Diabetes in Pets


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Diabetes refers to either wikipedia:Diabetes mellitus or wikipedia:Diabetes insipidus, and on this site mostly the first. Diabetes insipidus is a chronic condition of insufficient Antidiuretic hormone or resistance to this hormone. Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition of insufficient insulin or resistance to it, and high blood glucose levels.

Diabetes insipidusEdit




See wikipedia:Diabetes insipidus for further information.

Diabetes mellitusEdit

Diabetes mellitus is commonly divided into two types[1], depending on the origin of the condition:

Type 1Edit

Type 1 diabetes, sometimes called "juvenile diabetes", is caused by destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas due to an autoimmune disorder.

Type 2Edit

Type 2 diabetes is caused by either insulin resistance or insufficient insulin production, which can be triggered by any number of causes. Type 2, if not well-treated, deteriorates[2] as it destroys beta cells of the pancreas, eventually leading to complete insulin dependence. If well-treated early, some proportion of cats experience remission.

Fast FactsEdit

  • The typical canine diabetes patient is middle-aged, female[3] and overweight at diagnosis.
  • The typical feline diabetes patient is middle-aged, male, and overweight at diagnosis[4].
  • Cats are one of the few species capable of developing a form of diabetes which is very much like that of Type 2 in humans. Both can develop amyloid deposits which inhibit the endocrine pancreas from working properly[5].
  • Type 2 diabetes is rare in dogs, but between 80-95% of cats with diabetes suffer from the Type 2 form[6].
  • The number of dogs diagnosed with diabetes mellitus has increased three-fold in thirty years. Looking back on survival rates from almost the same time period, only 50% survived the first 60 days after diagnosis and went on to be successfully treated at home. With treatment, diabetic dogs are able to survive as long as non-diabetic dogs of the same age and gender[7].
  • The number of cats diagnosed with diabetes mellitus has increased at least twofold in the last 15 years[8], and now ranges from 1 in 400 to about 1 in 50 cats.[9] With early appropriate diet change and treatment, it is now possible for 20 to 90 percent of Type-2 cats to expect diabetic remission.[10]

Similarities and Differences of Diabetes Mellitus in Canines and Felines[11]

Contributing Factors in Diabetes Mellitus

Felines Canines

Common endocrine disorder

Yes Yes

Primary diabetes is most similar to human Type II, NIDDM

Yes No[12]

Primary diabetes is most similar to human Type I, NIDDM

No Yes

Peak occurrence in middle-aged to older animals


Breed predispositions

No Yes

Initially presents as NIDDM and progresses to IDDM

No Yes

Can experience transient diabetes

Yes Yes

Obesity is a common factor

Yes Yes

Higher incidence in males versus females

Yes No

Higher incidence in females versus males

No Yes

Further ReadingEdit





  1. World Health Organization definitions and diagnosis of diabetes
  2. Dr. Richard Nelson on deteriorating type-2 diabetes in cats
  3. VIN-Canine Diabetes
  4. Feline Diabetes
  5. Similarities of Type 2 Diabetes in Cats & Humans
  6. Understanding Feline Diabetes Mellitus, J. Rand, R. Marshall, 2005
  7. Beyond Insulin Therapy: Achieving Optimal Control in Diabetic Dogs Drs. Fleeman & Rand-U-Queensland 2005
  8. Vet tech blog, 2006
  9. Canine and Feline Diabetes Mellitus: Nature or Nurture, J. Rand et al.
  10. Rand & Marshall, ibid
  11. US Pharmacist Diabetes Mellitus in Canines and Felines-2002
  12. Insulin Resistance Not Associated with Glucose Intolerance in Dogs Obese Due to Overfeeding-ACVIM 2006-Page 78, Abstract #224
  13. Diabetes
  14. Transient Canine Diabetes Mellitus-Journal of Small Animal Practice, 2003
  15. Intervet-Caninsulin-Page 3
  16. Veterinary Partner-Steroid Use
  17. Veterinary Information Network-Canine Diabetes

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