Dogs and cats are much loved in the United States and worldwide. In the United States in 2012, it was estimated that as many as 62 percent of households had at least one pet. (1) 

do dogs and cats develop diabetesPets are a welcome addition to many families. They give companionship and love. When someone has a dog, they’re encouraged to take their pet for multiple walks throughout the week. This helps not only exercise the dog, but the human on the other end of the lead. 

As a diabetes educator, it is natural to get many questions about diabetes. Some people ask me questions about the possibility of diabetes in their dog or cat.  They also want to know about care for their beloved animal. This article is all about diabetes in dogs and cats.

Statistics show that approximately one in every 200 cats and one in 400-500 dogs are diagnosed with diabetes. (2)

Diabetes in Dogs
In dogs, diabetes usually develops between the ages of 7-10 years but can occur at a much younger age. Seventy percent of dogs with diabetes are female and 30 percent male. The following breeds are at higher risk than others:
•    Dachshunds
•    Poodles
•    Miniature and Standard Schnauzers
•    Cairn and Australian Terriers
•    Springer Spaniels 
•    Keeshonds
•    Samoyeds
•    Golden Retrievers (3, 4)

It is interesting to note that in Keeshonds, diabetes is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. (5) 
The following breeds of dogs are at a lower risk of diabetes:
•    Cocker Spaniels
•    Shepherds
•    Collies
•    Boxers (3)

Do dogs typically have type 1 or type 2 diabetes?
Dogs usually have type 1 diabetes. Any animal with type 1 diabetes require insulin injections. (4) 

Cats and Diabetes
Cornell University Feline Health Center has information on cats and diabetes. They enlighten us on many facts pertaining to cats. It is seen that of cats with diabetes, up to three quarters of them have type one diabetes and need insulin upon diagnosis. Other cats will eventually need insulin for treatment. Some cats are treated with the oral medication glipizide. Male cats and older cats are more prone to diabetes. (6)

In the United Kingdom and Australia, Burmese cats have been reported to have a higher risk of diabetes than other cats. (7)
What symptoms might my dog or cat display that may indicate diabetes? According to the University of Prince Edward Island, symptoms displayed in dogs are the same as those in humans. They include increased hunger and thirst, increased urination and weight loss. Dogs with diabetes are also prone to develop cataracts, liver disease and pancreatitis. They may have an increased susceptibility to bacterial infections. If the diabetes continues and is untreated, dogs may develop ketoacidosis. (8)  This will lead to death if untreated. 

In cats the symptoms are the same as in dogs. In addition a flat footed stance may indicate diabetes which may be caused by neuropathy. (9) For more information on cats and diabetes visit the Vet Info website.
Call your pet’s veterinarian immediately if you suspect diabetes. It is typical for your pet to undergo a physical exam, blood work and urinalysis to diagnose diabetes.   

What can I expect if my pet has diabetes?
Giving your dog proper medication, food and monitoring blood glucose levels are important. As with humans, exercise is also important.  Ask your veterinarian for guidance. (4)

What tools are available to help you with your pet’s diabetes?
1.    Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s brochure on feline diabetes provides a link to a wonderful website on home glucose testing in dogs and cats. (6) 

2.    The Food and Drug Administration approved the VetPen in March of 2014. The VetPen is the first insulin pen approved for use in dogs and cats with diabetes. For cats and dogs needing insulin, the use of this pen may make dosing more precise and giving insulin easier for pet owners. Dogs and cats receiving proper treatment for their diabetes have the same expected lifespan as those dogs without diabetes. 

3.    For nutritional information about your cat or dog with diabetes, the University of California Davis provides excellent information. 

This article was written to provide you with current information on diabetes in dogs and cats. For information specific to your pet, consult your animal’s veterinarian.