Diabetes mellitus is a common condition in both cats and dogs. This disease involves a decrease or lack of production of insulin by the pancreas. When a pet ingests food sugar is absorbed from that food through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. Insulin is a hormone that is necessary for cells to be able to effectively absorb that sugar from the blood and utilize it properly. If they cannot utilize that sugar properly pets will experience an increase in water consumption, urination, and appetite. Despite the increase in appetite, these patients frequently lose weight until insulin therapy is started (because blood sugar cannot be used for energy and calories). Infections, such as urinary tract or skin infections, and cataract development in dogs are other common side effects in patients with untreated diabetes.
Most diabetics require treatment with a diet change and insulin therapy. Insulin must be administered by injection every 12 hours under the skin. Most patients with diabetes require blood glucose curves (serial measurements of blood sugars) throughout the day until the appropriate insulin dose is selected. Several blood glucose curves, performed several days apart, may be required to stabilize the diabetes. On average, it takes 4 to 6 weeks for the appropriate dose of insulin to be determined. Patients with diabetes require life-long therapy and monitoring.