How Do Pets Get Diabetes? Diabetes Prevention Tips For Cats And Dogs

Diabetes in pets has been on the rise in the past decade, with millions of pets diagnosed each year. Though the disease is manageable, it can be dangerous, and your pet will need major lifestyle changes to stay healthy after diagnosis.

Learn how pets get diabetes and how you may be able to prevent your pet from becoming diabetic.

Type I vs Type II Diabetes In Pets… What’s The Difference?

 Like humans, pets can get either type I or type II diabetes.

Type I Diabetes means your pet’s pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Virtually all dogs with diabetes get type I. Type I diabetes is managed with insulin injections.

Type II Diabetes means your pet’s body produces insulin, but their cells are not able to use it properly to convert glucose (sugar derived from food) into energy. This type of diabetes is typically seen in cats. Type II diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise, and not all diabetic cats will need insulin.

In both types, glucose remains in the bloodstream, causing hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar. Since the body is unable to use glucose for fuel, it burns fat and protein instead. As a result, a diabetic pet may be eating more, but they will actually lose weight.

Why Do Pets Get Diabetes?

Type I diabetes, typically seen in dogs, is not directly related to diet and exercise. It’s similar to what we refer to as juvenile diabetes in humans, though it’s usually diagnosed in dogs between 7 and 10 years of age.

Some dog breeds are genetically predisposed to diabetes. The Bichon Frise, Poodle, Keeshond, Beagle, Cairn Terrier, Pug, and Fox Terrier are more likely to get it, though dogs of any breed, age, and gender may develop diabetes.

Certain conditions can make your dog more susceptible to diabetes. Cushing’s disease, heart disease, kidney disease, and pancreatitis have all been linked to it. If your dog takes steroid medications, they are also at an increased risk of becoming diabetic. Since some diseases, such as pancreatitis, are caused by a poor diet, obesity can be indirectly linked to diabetes.

Type II diabetes, seen in cats, is typically caused by obesity. An overabundance of glucose in the blood can lead to insulin resistance. Cats may not need insulin in some cases, and their diabetes can sometimes be managed with diet and exercise.

Diabetes Prevention And Management Through Diet

Whether your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes, or you feel they are at risk for developing it, you should keep their weight in check by feeding a high-quality diet and encouraging them to exercise.

For dogs, this means a diet that is high in quality animal protein and restricted carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are converted to glucose, which can help fuel the body, but too much will raise their blood sugar.

A high fiber diet is sometimes recommended to help manage blood sugar fluctuations in dogs with diabetes and encourage weight loss. However, excessive fiber can wreak havoc on the digestive system and hasn’t been shown to be especially beneficial for most diabetic dogs.

Cats also need a diet rich in protein, and they’re better off with little to no carbs. If you feed a dry diet, consider switching your cat to canned food.

It can be tricky to increase your pet’s physical activity, especially if they’re older and have mobility issues. Start with just ten minutes per day of playtime, walking, or even swimming. Ask your vet for help with creating an exercise regime that’s realistic for your pet.

When To See Your Vet

Symptoms of diabetes can be similar to those of other diseases. You cannot diagnose or treat your pet on your own. See your vet for advice on improving your pet’s diet, testing for diabetes if you notice symptoms, and starting treatment early so your pet can live a full, happy life.

Test your pet at home with the At Home Wellness Test for Dogs or Cats

With the At Home Wellness Test for Dogs or Cats, you can easily check to see if your pet has a common health issue. In just 60 seconds, you can test your pet’s urine for high glucose levels, urinary tract infection, kidney failure, and blood in the urine. The At Home Wellness Test for Dogs or Cats includes everything you need to cleanly collect and test your pet’s urine in a non-invasive and stress-free manner.

The At Home Wellness Test for Dogs includes a urine cup with a reusable telescopic pole for easy urine collection and the At Home Wellness Test for Cats includes a special hydrophobic litter that causes the urine to puddle atop the litter for easy collection. Both testing kits include 2 testing strips, one sample collection vial, one sample collection pipette, and a results card that quickly indicated positive or negative results

Win a FREE CheckUp At Home Wellness Test for your dog or cat!

Detect the most common health issues in your pet in 60 seconds with an easy-to-use test at home. Just leave a comment below letting us know whether you have a cat or dog, and you could win  a FREE Checkup At Home Wellness Test for your dog or cat from 1800PetMeds! Two winners (one cat and one dog) will be chosen at random Monday, November 11, 2019, so everyone who participates has a chance to win! There will be a total of two (2) winners. (Limited to residents of the U.S.) Good luck! 

Congrats to the drawing winners: Julie L (dog kit) and Linda P (kit for cats). Look for an email from us!

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  1. Catherine McNamaraNovember 5, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    I have four cats and would love to win the test.

  2. I have a almost 13 year old pug that has had pancreatitis x2.I have been very careful with her food intake and exercise. I try to walk her twice a day.Her weight has been fairly constant at 16 lbs. The only symptom I have noticed is a definite increase in her water intake. I have mentioned this to her vet but no testing has been suggested. Having the ability to be able to home test for diabetes would be a way of keeping an eye on her.

  3. My husband constantly over feeds our dog. We already had one that had diabetes. This test might help him realize he needs to stop overfeeding our baby.

  4. Love my over weight chocolate lab would love to test her

  5. I would love to test my chubby kitty Orion.

  6. I have a Yorkie which I had taken to the doctors twice regarding urine issues. I don’t know if she was checked for diabetes but she goes quite often and sometimes have accidents in the house. She seems fine health wise but very thin even thou I am feeding her more food. She drinks a lot of water. Don’t know if it’s because she’s a very nerves dog. Help!

  7. Chase is our Border collie mix doggie. He’s 12 this yr. We put in 1 to 3 walks nowadays and he enjoys playing fetch in the backyard. We try not to give too many treats of course. But, would like to give him the diabete test to check.

  8. We have one cat who is special needs and 5 senior beagles (10-13 yrs old) that we have rescued. My husband and I have such a love for senior dogs and hate it when they get thrown away because of health problems. It does get costly but they are so worth if.

  9. Dog

  10. I have 3 cats and a dog. We just recently lost a cat to Kidney disease and didn’t realize she was in kidney failure until it was too late for her, so understand how important early detection of any ailment is for your pets.

  11. Our little guy, Bullitt, had diabetes for six and a half years before he passed away at age 12. It certainly was a challenge, but we would not give back one minute with him. It surely is a lifestyle change, especially when you have a dog who does not eat his meals regularly – Bullitt was what the vet called a grazer. Bullitt had to have cataract surgery and had to have drops every day for over 4 years. I am constantly watching our new fellow, Casey, who will be 4 this month. I find myself watching how much he drinks. Even though the vet told us we could not have prevented Bullitt’s diabetes, I am still worried about Casey getting this challenging condition.

  12. I have a cat. I would love to have this!!

  13. Darlene RichardsonNovember 6, 2019 at 6:48 am

    We have a dog! A springer spaniel that is 14 1/2 years old.

  14. Juliann DavidowskiNovember 6, 2019 at 7:19 am

    elderly cats need follow-up monitoring. the test kit would be a great help

  15. Elderly dog ….. Thank you!

  16. I have a dog – she is now 10 and could use a senior check-up. Thanks for the contest

  17. I have two cats and two dogs. I would like a test for the cats. Thanks for the chance.

  18. I have 3 cats. Gilbert 9, Oliver 5 and Garry 3. Sweetest babies ever!

  19. I have a dog, Bailey, and 5 cats, Sammy, Alize, Star, Midnight, and Midnight. They are all my babies. Bailey is a senior and this would be a great test for him.

  20. I have ten kitties with questionable histories (8 feral rescues and 2 abandoned).

  21. We just found out our dog might have Cushings disease and his diabetis could be secondary to that. He is going to be tested. This test would be awesome for us to keep him healthy. Having Pet Med to count on is great.

  22. I have a cat. He’s a 6 year old Snowshoe named Yo-Yo. 🙂

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