November is widely recognized as National Pet Diabetes Month, a time when the general public can become more educated about this common endocrine disease.  While it was initially established with a focus on human diabetes, National Pet Diabetes Month is also a time when pet owners can learn more about diabetes mellitus, a disease that can affect dogs and cats and, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Is Your Pet at Risk of Diabetes?

There are two basic types of pet diabetes–Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.  Type 1, which is most commonly seen in dogs, is where the pet’s body fails to make sufficient amounts of insulin.  It cannot be conclusively resolved and requires lifelong insulin therapy.  Type 2, which is most commonly seen in cats, is where the pancreas makes insulin that is either inadequate or is stopped from being correctly used in the pet’s body.  It may not be a permanent condition, and may only require insulin therapy for a few months.

Both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus can be successfully managed if they are diagnosed early and treated appropriately.  So how do you know if you should have your pet checked out by their vet?  Following are some of the more common signs of diabetes in dogs and cats:

  • Excessive thirst. If your pet seems unusually and excessively thirsty, you should watch them closely for any other signs of diabetes.
  • Excessive urination. While it may seem natural that excessive urination goes hand-in-hand with excessive thirst, this is also a sign of diabetes.
  • Inappropriate urination. A side effect of excessive urination is an inability to “hold it” until one can eliminate in the appropriate area.  If your house-trained pet starts having accidents, they may have diabetes.
  • Weight loss. This is most noticeable in pets that have a general issue with being overweight, but that suddenly seem to be suffering from weight loss, especially over their back.
  • Increased hunger. A pet who is suffering from insulin production problems will be hungrier more often.
  • Whiteness in the lens of the eye. This whiteness is often due to cataracts, a side effect of diabetes.
  • Diabetes can lead to blindness.
  • Weakness and lethargy. Pet diabetes can sap a pet’s physical energy and strength, leading to weakness and lethargy.
  • Undesirable skin conditions. If you notice excessive dandruff or oiliness in your pet’s coat, you may want to have them checked for diabetes.