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Diabetes Mellitus in Cats and Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

This is an endocrine disease that occurs due to an absolute or relative deficiency in insulin from the pancreas resulting in high levels of glucose in the body.

What are the clinical signs of Diabetes Mellitus?

There are four main symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus:

  • Weight loss

  • increased appetite

  • Increased thirst

  • Increased urination

Three types of DM have been identified.

Type I: This type is insulin-dependent and results from a complete lack of insulin production in the body and dependence on insulin injections. It is most commonly found in dogs and can result from the destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells inside the pancreas.

Type II: This type is noninsulin-dependent and results in impaired insulin production in the body. While the body produces some insulin, it is not enough to prevent hyperglycemia. It occurs in both cats and dogs but is most commonly found in cats. Patients with type II Diabetes Mellitus can sometimes go into remission, with the effects of the condition being reversed.

Type III: This type develops during pregnancy and is associated with high concentrations of progesterone or other related hormones. it is found in both cats and dogs.

How is Diabetes Mellitus diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on clinical signs being displayed by your pet ( Weight loss, increased thirst, increased urination, increased appetite) combined with blood and urine tests to check for excess glucose in the body.

How is Diabetes Mellitus treated in dogs?

Most dogs have type I diabetes mellitus caused by the destruction of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Treatment includes daily insulin injections and diet management with regular glucose monitoring to lower the level of glucose body without causing hypoglycemia (low glucose levels). The goal is to reduce or eliminate the clinical signs (excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive hunger, and weight loss). Treatment is lifelong and clients need to be educated on this to ensure success.

How is Diabetes Mellitus treated in cats?

Type II diabetes mellitus is the most common form in cats accounting for over 80 % of cases. Insulin therapy is also the treatment of choice in cats. However, type II diabetes is sometimes reversible with the disease going into remission. Dietary management is also helpful when treating diabetic cats.

All patients on insulin therapy should be monitored closely for signs of hypoglycemia( Low blood glucose)


Once a patient's diabetes mellitus is properly regulated, they can live a long fulfilling life as long as their treatment and monitoring are consistent. If you believe that your dog has diabetes mellitus or would like to learn more about it, call us at 559-434-5470



  1. VCA Animal Hospitals. Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs - Overview.

  2. American Veterinary Medical Association. Diabetes in Pets.

  3. American Kennel Club. Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment.

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