Carolyn Matlock DVM
Cascade Heights Veterinary Center
(206) 403 – 1108

Diabetes Mellitus (DM): is a metabolic disorder that is caused when the pancreas does not make insulin, or when the body does not respond normally to insulin. Insulin’s job is to take up sugar from the blood and deliver it into the body’s tissues. Without normal insulin function, the result is high blood sugar (blood glucose).

Diabetic Predispositions & Risk Factors:

  • Breed Predisposition
  • Dogs: Terriers, Bichon frises, Keeshonds, Poodles, & Mini schnauzers
  • Cats: Tonkinese, Norwegian Forest, and Burmese (slightly overrepresented)
  • Obesity is a main risk factor for developing DM, especially in
  • Steroids cause insulin resistance resulting in increased risk of DM if used long

Clinical Signs:

  • Think more: water, urine, food
  • Weight loss
  • Poor hair coat & not grooming
  • Hind end weakness
  • Dog Cataracts (white cloudy pupils)

Treatment: The mainstay of treatment is insulin: injections given under the skin once – twice daily. There are many types of insulin and each one is slightly different. Some you have to handle gently while others (like Vetsulin) you must shake vigorously before using. Each insulin type also requires a specific syringe (either a U-40 or a U-100). Mistakes with insulin handling or using an incorrect syringe can lead to under-dosing or overdosing insulin, the latter of which can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and have serious and even life-threatening side effects.

It’s important for cats to be on a low-carb diet in order to regulate their DM. In dogs, a specific diet (low carb or otherwise) has not been shown to help with regulation of blood sugar and is not usually recommended. Both dogs and cats should be fed two meals daily, roughly 12 hours apart, at the same time that insulin is given.

Monitoring & Follow Up:

  • Diabetic patients need to have a blood glucose curve (full day of measuring blood glucose every 2 hours) performed 7-10 days after initial diagnosis, and then each time the insulin dose is adjusted.
  • An alternative to the traditional blood glucose curve is the Freestyle Libre, a continuous glucose monitoring device that is placed on the patient’s skin and takes thousands of readings over the course of 2 This is a non-invasive way to measure glucose until patients are well controlled on their insulin dose.
  • By monitoring glucose, we are looking to see if the insulin

has succeeded in lowering the blood sugar, and we are looking at how long the effects of the insulin last.

  • There are many types of insulin and no one type is perfect for every diabetic

Remission & Treatment Success:

  • Did you know that ~30% of cats with DM can go into remission? If you are able to get your cat to lose weight and eat an appropriate diet (low carb), then after some time on insulin therapy you may find you don’t need insulin anymore!
  • Unfortunately, diabetic remission is extremely rare in
  • In general, we are happy with our treatment when our diabetic pets are maintaining their weight, not showing excessive thirst/urination, and eating with a normal appetite.
  • Well managed diabetic patients can live a long, normal life with the help of dedicated owners like you!
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