Diabetes Mellitus

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes Mellitus is a disease of the pancreas. Just like humans, dogs and cats can suffer from this disease, but more commonly it can be seen in older pets. In the pancreas there are beta cells that are responsible for the excretion of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels by utilising glucose for energy. When the beta cells are damaged they fail to produce insulin for the utilisation of glucose. The body then begins to use other energy sources, which causes a negative build up of glucose in the blood.

Types of Diabetes Mellitus

There are two types of Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 Insulin Dependent Diabetes and Type 2 Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes. Both are very similar as they fail to regulate blood sugar. Type 1 is where there is a complete destruction of the beta cells that produce insulin. This is the most common type see in pets. Type 2 is where some beta cells remain but there is not enough to break down insulin. This type is most commonly seen in obese dogs and cats.

So why do our pets need insulin and why is it so important?

When your pets digest food some of its nutrients is broken down and converted to energy. Glucose comes from carbohydrates and is a major source of energy for the body’s cells. In order to break down glucose you need insulin! Without insulin glucose cannot be broken down and transferred to the blood stream for energy. You may have noticed in humans when someone has low glucose levels they feel faint or dizzy? This is because the body’s cells are not getting enough energy. Because of this the body begins to break down other energy sources such as fats and proteins. As glucose accumulates, the body excretes it into the urine along with water. This can result in dehydration and increased drinking.

Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus

  • Increased water consumption due to increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

If you notice any of these symptoms regularly it is a good idea to keep a diary so your Veterinarian can establish a good history.

How is Diabetes Mellitus diagnosed?

Diabetes is diagnosed through a blood test or urine test. If diabetes is present there will be elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine. Sometimes both tests will be required as stress associated with visiting your Veterinarian can alter the levels of glucose levels in the blood.


Treating diabetes mellitus involves dietary changes, insulin injections and commitment. Insulin injections will usually be required twice daily along with a strict dietary schedule. It is important to not leave food out all day as this will affect glucose levels and interrupt your pets insulin plan.

With effective treatment and consistency your pet can live a long and normal life with very few symptoms. Your Veterinarian will help you with a suitable treatment plan.

Our recommendations

If you have noticed some of the symptoms discussed we highly recommend you bring your pet in for a check up. If diabetes is left untreated other medical issues can arise that could potentially lead to a more dangerous diagnosis.

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