Understanding Pet Diabetes

Pet diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a metabolic condition that happens when the pancreas does not create sufficient amounts of insulin for the body to use sugars, proteins, and fats for fuel. It’s a condition found in pets that are overweight, older, or on a medication known to cause diabetes. Our team at Juniata Veterinary Clinic can help your pet manage his or her diabetes at our clinic.

How Pets Develop Diabetes

There are a few ways in which cats and dogs can develop diabetes. Age and genetics are a factor, but obesity is a strong contributor to pet diabetes. Obesity creates insulin-resistant cells that prevent the pancreas from working correctly, resulting in Type II diabetes. Type II diabetes is reversible with diet, exercise, and weight loss. Sometimes, a pet develops diabetes with no discernable cause. Various problems, such as pancreatitis damage, can cause the pancreas to stop producing insulin cells. This condition results in Type I diabetes and cannot be reversed once it begins. Dogs are more prone to developing Type I diabetes, while cats are more prone to Type II. Both cats and dogs can develop either type of diabetic conditions.


Obesity can heighten the risk of your pet developing diabetes. The older a pet gets, the higher his or her chances are of developing other diseases that can result in diabetes. These other diseases may also affect the pet’s response to treatment for diabetes. Pet owners should also be aware that long-term use of medications that contain corticosteroids can put their pets at risk for developing diabetes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

While your pet may be clearly showing signs of being diabetic, it still needs to be confirmed by our veterinarians. We may run a series of blood tests to rule out medical conditions commonly found in older pets. Checking for diabetes consists of testing for glucosuria and hyperglycemia. If your pet is diagnosed with diabetes, they will be prescribed insulin that can only be given by injection. We will demonstrate how to give your cat or dog insulin injections. It is also essential to modify your pet’s diet to coincide with treatment.

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