Insulin resistance, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes. These are all words and phrases that have become mainstream in conversations as the human Diabetes epidemic has spread across the United States. With our increased sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits, this disease has crept its way into our pets’ lives as well.
Types of Diabetes Found in Dogs and Cats
Type-1 Diabetes (T1DM)
Absolute insulin deficiency
Loss of beta cells of the pancreas so body doesn’t product insulin
Commonly referred to as Insulin-dependent diabetes
Type-2 Diabetes (T2DM)
Relative insulin deficiency
Producing insulin but body cannot respond correctly
Same as Type 2 Diabetes found in Humans
Type 3 Diabetes (T3DM) or Secondary DM
Diabetes in Dogs
The most common type of diabetes in dogs is Type-1 diabetes which is caused by rapid and progressive beta cell loss in the pancreas, which affects 1 in 570 dogs in the United States. Certain breeds of dogs have shown a genetic predisposition for diabetes, and the common risk factors can include infection, medications, obesity, older age, pancreatitis, hypothyroidism and female gender. The clinical signs of diabetes are similar to signs in humans such as increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss and possible vision loss. The most common medications used for diabetes in dogs are an injectable insulin or a combination of different insulin products to stabilize blood sugar levels.
Diabetes in Cats
The most common type of diabetes affecting cats is Type-2 Diabetes which occurs in ~80% of diabetic cats. If your cat has the following factors, he/she could be at an increased risk of developing diabetes: Older age, male gender, physical inactivity, on medications that may cause diabetes, and obesity. 95% of diabetic cats are older than 5 years old, 70 to 80% are male and 50 to 60% are overweight. Unlike diabetes in dogs, there is no breed differences in the prevalence of diabetes in cats. Common signs and symptoms of diabetes in cats can include increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, lethargy, and a dry, lusterless coat. Although not curable, the main treatment goals of diabetes in cats is remission and elimination of clinical signs. Oral anti diabetic medications, which are commonly used in humans with Type-2 Diabetes have not showed much promise in cats. Treatment options include, weight loss with a high protein, low carbohydrate diet and increased activity, long-acting insulin's, and eliminating or minimizing medications that may cause or worsen diabetes.
References: Aaron Stuztman- RP HVS Pharmacy, Oh Sugar! Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats, Davidson, Gigi BSPharm, DICVP, FSVHP, FACVP, NC State University College of Veterinary Medicine Retired. ACVP 2019 conference presentation June 2019