Diabetes mellitus occurs when the pancreas no longer produces an appropriate amount of insulin, causing continual or prolonged hyperglycemia. This condition occurs most commonly in middle aged animals and is reported more in female dogs and male cats.
The most common clinical signs of diabetes mellitus include increased water intake, increased urination, weight loss despite normal or increased food intake, cataract development, and in more severe or progressed cases vomiting, weakness, and depression.
Diabetes mellitus is diagnosed by bloodwork which will show a significantly increased blood sugar level and a urinalysis which will show glucose in the urine. It is also important to check for ketones in the urine to rule-out diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition that occurs when diabetes mellitus is left untreated for too long.
Diabetes mellitus is managed long term with injectable insulin, typically given by the owner twice daily for life. Occasionally in cats with diabetes they can become transient diabetics, meaning that at some point they may no longer require insulin and the diabetes will either permanently or temporarily resolve. Insulin needs are closely related to food intake and the weight of the pet and you should discuss, and follow, dietary and exercise recommendations made by your veterinarian. It is important with any pet that you are working closely with your veterinarian to monitor glucose levels, fructosamine levels, and other organ function tests, as well as monitor for any changes in clinical signs. It is common that throughout your pet’s life that insulin dosages or types may need to be adjusted or changed based on your pet’s needs.
Always monitor your pet closely for any signs of hypoglycemia, such as ataxia (stumbling or abnormal gait), lethargy, and/or unresponsiveness. In the event of any of these signs feed if able or apply karo syrup to the gum line and seek immediate medical attention.