Diabetes mellitus, or diabetes, is a condition that occurs when the body can not use glucose (a type of sugar) normally. Glucose is the main source of energy for the body’s cells. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, is required for the transfer of glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. In diabetics, glucose isn’t transported into the cells and there is not enough energy for the cells to function normally. In human patients, diabetes is classified as Type I or Type II. Type I occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin, and type II occurs when the body can not respond normally to the amount of insulin made by the pancreas. Although diabetes in pets is sometimes classified as Type I or II, the difference between the types is less clear in pets than it is in humans.
WHAT PETS ARE AT RISK?
Diabetes in dogs and cats can occur at any age. Most diabetic cats are older than 6 years of age, and the disease is more common in neutered males. Most diabetic dogs are diagnosed at roughly 7-10 years of age. Diabetes is twice as common in female dogs compared to male dogs. Certain breeds of dogs may be predisposed to diabetes. Obesity is a significant risk factor for development of diabetes. As dogs and cats age, they may also develop other diseases that could result in diabetes or could significantly affect their response to treatment for diabetes, including overactivity of the adrenal gland in dogs (hyperadrenocorticsm) or overactivity of the thyroid gland in cats (hyperthyroidism), pancreatitis, heart disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infections and skin infections. The long-term use of medications containing corticosteroids is also a risk factor for diabetes. Diabetes is more common in older pets, but it can also occur in younger or pregnant pets. Diabetic pets can lead long and happy lives thanks to early detection, proper monitoring, treatment, and appropriate diet and exercise.