Diabetes can affect anyone in your family. That includes your pets. November is National Pet Diabetes Month, and the goal is to increase awareness of this disease.

Several blogs and websites that I read seem to agree that diabetes affects approx. 1 in every 300 dogs and 1 in 230 cats annually. Doesn’t sound like a lot? In the United States, more than 42.5 million households own either one or more dogs. And 42.7 million US households have at least one cat.

Now that is a lot.

So what is Pet Diabetes?

It is a metabolic disorder. There is a problem with the body converting food to energy. 

You will find Diabetes Mellitus (DM) in a pet that has inadequate levels of insulin. DM is also known as sugar diabetes. 

How does this happen?

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Its job is to lower blood sugar levels. It does this by moving sugar from the bloodstream into cells where it needs to go. 

And adequate blood sugar levels are important to the body. They determine the amount of glucose your pet’s cells receive. Glucose is a major source of energy for the body.

Having a high sugar level in the bloodstream damages many organs.

Diabetes Mellitus (DM) can develop from disorders of the pancreas, other diseases, or other hormones.

Symptoms of Pet Diabetes

The American Kennel Club lists these as warning signs:

  • Excessive thirst. Your dog or cat may drink more than usual and empty the water bowl more often than usual.
  • Increased urination. The dog may ask to go outside more often and even start having “accidents” in the house. Increased urination (and increased thirst) happens because the body needs to get rid of excess sugar. It does this by sending the sugar out through urine, along with water that binds to the sugar.
  • Weight loss. Your dog or cat can lose weight despite eating normal portions. This situation happens because the body is not efficiently converting nutrients from its food.
  • Increased appetite. Your pet also can be very hungry all the time because body cells aren’t getting all the glucose they need. This is despite it eating its regular amount.

The AKC adds that in more advanced cases of pets diabetes, symptoms can become more pronounced and can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Depressed attitude
  • Vomiting


The Pet Health network website offers a breakdown of which pets are more likely to get DM.  

The disease appears twice as frequently in females than in male dogs. But, in cats, it is the male that suffers more than the female.

DM is active in older pets. The range is from 7-9 years of age in dogs and 8-13 years of age in cats. 

What Can You Do?

Exercise is something you can focus on. With diabetic dogs, keep to a moderate but consistent exercise routine.

Diet is critical. Your pet veterinarian will recommend the best type of diet. Usually, this will include high-quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, fiber, and fats to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. And these will help to slow the absorption of glucose. 

And then there are injections. Most diabetic pets will need daily shots of insulin under the skin. You might be a bit nervous about this at first. But you will have to learn to do it. In time, you should get to the point where it becomes a quick daily routine that isn’t traumatic for your pet or you.

Pet diabetes is not something you can cure. But you can manage it. Here is an informal quiz you can take right now to check the condition of your pet.

(What type of content should your business website blog offer? Advice rather than product promotion. Be a valuable info resource rather than an irritating source of sales pitches. For example, if you own a pet shop or veterinary practice, then you might share this type of content. Contact me if interested.)