Diabetes mellitus, often just shortened to diabetes, affects humans as well as dogs and cats. Each year, more and more cats and dogs are being diagnosed with diabetes than ever before.
In dogs and cats, there is an insulin-dependent form of diabetes, where the body is unable to produce insulin as well as an insulin-resistant form of diabetes, in which the dog’s or cat’s body is less responsive to the presence of insulin.
- Chronically elevated blood sugar levels
- increased thirst
- increased uriation
- increased appetite
- weight changes
- dull hair coat
- muscle weakness
Dogs may develop cataracts and cats may develop “dropped hocks,” walking on their hocks (heels) in stead of their toes due to muscle weakness.
Genetics and environment both influence the development of diabetes. Aging and obesity increase the risk of diabetes, so that most diabetic dogs and cats developed the disease in middle-age or older. The high rate of dog and cat obesity in the U.S. is a huge factor in diabetes, so weight loss is an important part of managing the disease.