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May 15, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Help! My Pet has been Diagnosed with Diabetes

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Diabetes is becoming increasingly more common in our pets as compared to past generations. Overfeeding and lack of exercise is now affecting our pet's healthy well-being just as it does us humans, with 1 in every 400 cats or dogs being diagnosed every year with Diabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is caused when the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin to help convert glucose (sugar) in the blood to energy, causing Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). If left untreated, our pets can suffer from neuropathy (weakness in the legs), malnutrition, ketoacidosis, dehydration, and death. Dogs can also suffer from cataracts.

What Are the Symptoms?

  • Sudden Weight Loss
  • Excessive Drinking of Water
  • Excessive Urination or Potty "Accidents" in the house
  • Increase or Decrease of Appetite
  • Wobbly back legs (weakness or trembling)
  • Cataracts in Dogs
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure

Preventing Diabetes

Proper Diet

Cat's and dog's diets are extremely different, but both should consist of balanced nutrition. Sadly, many commercial foods are not the best quality and contain lots of fillers and other unhealthy ingredients that can contribute negatively to our pets well-being.

  • Feed a high-grade, quality food
  • Read the labels and ingredients
  • If you wouldn't eat it, don't feed it to your pet
  • Don't be fooled by "weight-management" type foods for pets: dry kibble food can contain a high percentage of carbohydrates for cats, which is high in sugar
  • What you feed your pets plays a role in prevention of diabetes

Obesity can be a factor

Sadly, many people battle the belly bulge everyday. Our own poor eating-habits, tend to carry over to our family pets and regulating how much you feed your cat or dog is a must. You can do this by:

  • Having a regular set feeding schedule
  • Discussing with family members about NOT providing extra treats or giving them that extra feeding during the day because they are "meowing" or "barking" demanding to be fed
  • Unsure if your pet is overweight? Here are additional tips on what to look for:
    • You should be able to feel the rib cage
    • The abdomen should be tucked under the rib cage
    • You should be able to see a waist behind the ribs
    • Still unsure? Consult your vet and they can help determine if your pet is overweight


We already know how important exercise is for us, but what about our pets? Exercising your dog (depending on the breed, some require more then others) and cat is just as important for their health as it is for our own.

  • At least one daily walk for a minimum of 30-45 minutes
  • Running and Hiking are also great ways to exercise your dog, don't forget to add a backpack on your dog if they are an appropriate size to carry one (must be at least 1 years old)
  • Play fetch with your dog for 30 minutes a day
  • Take them swimming, if they enjoy water
  • Sign up for an agility sport (Earthdog, Dock Diving, and Flyball are just a few examples)
  • With any start up exercise program, please consult your pets vet first and start slowly

With a cat, we have to get a little creative, but don't worry, you can exercise your furry feline. Here are some tips on how to get your kitty active:

  • Use a fishing pole type toy with a toy dangling from the end of the line and have kitty chase the toy
  • Provide plenty of play toys, but don't expect your kitty to engage on their own
  • Put a toy in a paper bag, cardboard box or even the bathtub with a little cat nip and your kitty will get feisty and enjoy their time pouncing at the toy
  • Provide a climbing "tree" in your house so your cat can practice their climbing skills and sit perched up high (they LOVE this)
  • Feed your cat using a "feeding ball." Sold at many pet stores, you fill the ball with their food, and put it on the ground, then watch your kitty swat it around releasing their food slowly but getting exercise as they eat
  • Feed your cat on the top of their "tree." This makes kitty climb to the top in order to get their food
  • Daily walk outside. Yes, you can leash/harness train a cat, best to start at a young age, but can be done. Take your furry feline around the block to enjoy all the smells, sights, and sounds (make sure your kitty has a collar with tags and avoid high traffic areas and as well as areas with lots of dogs)

Genetics can play a role

Your pets gene pool can determine if their chances of getting diabetes are higher then other animals. Certain breeds of dogs have a higher chance of getting diabetes then others, and females are more likely to get the disease then males. Here is a list of those breeds:

My Pet is Diabetic, Now What?

Don't panic. This isn't the end for your beloved pet. Diabetes is very treatable and pets can live a healthy life with their diabetes. In some cases, many pets recover from being diabetic. Let's take a look at what pet-parents can do to help our pet manage this disease.

Insulin Shots

  • For cats, a single slow-acting dose, typically twice a day after each meal time (unless otherwise prescribed by your vet)
  • For dogs, typically twice a day after each meal time (unless otherwise prescribed by your vet)
  • With both pets, your vet will adjust and help supervise the dosage and how often it is given
    • Ketone Monitoring - testing your pets urine for insulin levels
    • Glucose and Ketone Strips are provided at Vetionx (needle free and easy to use)


  • Dia-IonX is a natural remedy that helps with the symptoms of diabetes
  • NOT to be used alone, but in conjunction with insulin shots under the supervision of your vet. Dia-IonX has helped many owners greatly decrease the amount of insulin used.
    • Stimulates the body to heal
    • Helps the body to better utilize the diet and supplements for a better synergistic effect and faster healing
    • Benefits the kidneys
    • Can be used with both cats and dogs
    • Visit Vetionx / Dia-IonX for more information

What to feed

  • Your Dog's Diet - Higher fiber content and low in fat (no less than 10% fat content) and high quality canned food is good. Avoid any grain filled foods and semi-moist food as they are high in sugar and carbs
  • Your Cat's Diet -Low-carbohydrate and high protein (with no added sugar), avoid ALL dry kibble (they have a high content of carbs which means a HIGH sugar content)
  • Supplements - Providing a supplement program for your cat or dog is a great way to help the body heal
    • Fish Oil
    • Probiotics
    • Digestive Enzymes
  • Feeding Schedule a Must - Feed your pets twice a day at a scheduled time each day (approximately 12 hours apart), absolutely no FREE feeding or giving their food all at once

Exercise is Still Important

An exercise regimen is still important, so providing your diabetic pet with a consistent schedule is necessary. Exercise helps move glucose from the blood stream into the muscles helping to regulate the blood sugar levels. A daily walk with your dog or playing with your cat is important.

Diabetes is a serious disease and should not be taken lightly. If you suspect your pet is showing symptoms of diabetes, please visit your vet immediately. If your pet has diabetes, there are treatments, but sadly no cure. If you choose to not seek treatment, your furry friend is in danger of dying from this terrible disease.

Many pets live a very healthy life with diabetes as long as their pet-parents provide them with the proper treatment, diet, and exercise program. I hope these tips help you prevent your pet from getting diabetes, and give you the knowledge and information you need to help treat your pet if they have diabetes.


eHow - Prevent Diabetes Animals

Every Day Health - Ten Cat Exercises

Wiki - Diabetes in Cats

Wiki - Diabetes in Dogs

More from Health Coach Victoria Swanson Others Are Reading


  • great information, very helpful, actually makes you feel better about your cat and having a diabetic one and how to deal with the problem, great job

  • Thank you so much Carol!

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