Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas that results in decreased insulin production.  Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to move from the blood into the cells.  The body cannot function without glucose getting into the cells.  If an animal does not produce enough insulin (is diabetic) his or her blood glucose level will be very high, yet there will be no glucose in the cells.  High blood glucose causes animals to drink a lot and urinate a lot, predisposes animals to cataracts and changes the way fat is broken down.  Low glucose in the cells makes animals tired, weak and prone to seizures or passing out.  This can be fatal.

Treatment of diabetes in animals involves a combination of diet changes & injections of insulin.  The oral diabetes pills that people take are not effective with most pets.  Insulin is generally best given twice daily.  This is because insulin does not last a long time after it is injected, and once an injection wears off, the blood glucose level starts to climb again.  Usually we start patients on a given dose of insulin twice a day and then monitor blood glucose levels, general well-being and water intake to help us adjust the dose.  We may find that we have to slowly increase the dose per injection or even change types of insulin.  It is critical that owners follow directions for insulin use explicitly, communicate well with the doctor, and never change insulin dose or frequency without contacting the veterinarian first.

Insulin dose requirements are dependent upon the severity of the diabetes, the size of a patient, exercise level and most importantly – diet.  There are special diets that we use just for diabetics.  These can only be used in animals that do not have other disease problems at the same time.  It is important that diabetics who are getting insulin injections eat regularly.  If your pet has been put on a special diet and refuses to eat it, call us before giving insulin.

Insulin is a very fragile molecule that needs to be handled carefully.  Follow the attached instructions.  Failure to be careful with insulin can inactivate it, which means your injections will be ineffective and your pet will continue to be diabetic.  This is a common cause of frustration in getting an animal controlled.  Insulin is too expensive and your pet’s life and comfort are too important to take this lightly!

Diabetes & Insulin.pdf