November is Pet Diabetes Awareness Month, and while diabetes in pets is not uncommon, many pet parents are surprised to learn that a disease so prevalent in humans can affect their pets as well. For reasons veterinary researchers do not fully understand, diabetes tends to be more common in female dogs than in males. Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed as well, including, but not limited to, dachschunds, schnauzers, poodles, and pugs. Cats are far more likely to develop diabetes than dogs. According to official numbers, 1 in 400 cats is diabetic, but since cats are experts at hiding signs of illness, the actual number is probably much higher.
Diabetes in both cats and dogs generally develops between six and nine years of age. Clinical signs include increased thirst, increased or inappropriate urination, recurring urinary tract infections, change in appetite, change in gait, and lethargy. Treatment can be as simple as a change in diet, but many pets require medication or insulin injections for life. A new type of insulin has been shown to put diabetic cats into remission after several months - or even weeks - of treatment! Just like their human counterparts, cats and dogs are far more prone to diabetes if they are overweight or obese. For this reason, (and many others) it is wise to ensure your pets maintain a healthy weight and active lifestyle.