Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

By Deborah Carlson, DVM, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. Did you know that dogs and cats are also susceptible to developing diabetes?


Middle-aged female dogs and middle-aged male cats are most at risk for developing diabetes. The risk is even greater if they are overweight.

Here are the top five symptoms of diabetes in dogs and cats:

  1. Increased thirst. Drinking more water than usual is the most common early warning sign of diabetes in both dogs and cats.
  2. Increased urination. Your pet may ask to go out more frequently to urinate or may start to have accidents in the house. You may notice larger urine clumps in your cat’s litter box.
  3. Increased hunger. Your pet may seem hungry all the time and may start to show abnormal behaviors such as stealing food off the counter or getting into the garbage.
  4. Sudden weight loss. Despite eating well, your pet will lose weight because diabetes will prevent absorption of nutrients and will alter your pet’s metabolism.
  5. Vomiting, weakness or severe lethargy. With prolonged, untreated diabetes, a dog or cat will develop a syndrome known as ketoacidosis. This is a life-threatening complication of diabetes and requires aggressive treatment in the veterinary hospital.

Diabetic dogs and cats can still lead normal lives, but will require insulin injections and special diets to control their diabetes.

The earlier the disease is diagnosed, the more favorable the long-term prognosis will be. Please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog or cat.

PVH offers comprehensive and 24/7 emergency care. Call 360.568.3113 for appointments (available seven days a week). Located in Snohomish.

Article added 11.11.14