Even with the advances in diabetic care, diabetes in pets has remained a particular point of interest and discussion among
veterinary professionals. This report is the result of input from animal health associations, sources from the animal health
industry, and practitioners of veterinary medicine, who each contributed information and their unique points of view about
diabetes in pets. The "State of Diabetes" is intended to provide not only appropriate background on diabetes in cats and dogs,
but also practical strategies on how veterinarians and veterinary technicians can address risk factors and provide effective
management by using the latest blood glucose monitors calibrated for veterinary use, veterinary insulin products, and special
diets that address the individual needs of a diabetic cat or dog.
Every time veterinarians use the knowledge gained from human diabetes management to control the disease in dogs and cats,
they honor the canines that played a key role in the medical advancement and understanding of human diabetes. In 1890, Drs.
Joseph Von Mering and Oskar Minkowski inadvertently created an animal model of diabetes when they discovered dogs displayed
signs of polyuria and polydipsia associated with glucosuria when the pancreas was removed. And in 1921, Dr. Frederick Banting
and his Toronto team isolated insulin from the pancreas of dogs. They spent the next year testing the new hormone in diabetic
dogs, forever changing the way human diabetes is treated.
The goal of diabetes management for dogs and cats is the same as for people: good glycemic control. And the cornerstones of
this management are insulin, diet, monitoring—including home monitoring—and exercise, according to recent American Animal
Hospital Association recommendations.
Successful insulin therapy and diabetes control require consistent timing, accurate dosing, and careful monitoring, which
rely heavily on pet owner participation. Owners should check their pets' blood glucose, give insulin on a regular schedule,
and feed their pets a regimented diet.
Additional information on canine and feline diabetes
Pet owners are essential to producing accurate glucose measurements and implementing recommended treatment changes, but they
cannot be successful unless they know how to establish and follow a routine schedule, properly administer insulin, and measure
blood glucose. In addition, owners must know how to recognize what is and isn't normal so they will know when something is
wrong with their pets.
Routine blood glucose monitoring offers great benefits to pet owners. For example, knowing that the blood glucose concentration
is normal reassures owners when they have to leave the house. And a glucose concentration above or below normal tells the
owner that the pet should see the veterinarian. Home glucose monitoring also provides valuable information to the veterinarian,
who must decide whether or not to change the animal's treatment regimen.
Today veterinarians and pet owners can manage diabetes mellitus with the help of veterinary calibrated blood glucose monitors,
diets that address their special nutritional needs, and insulin products indicated for veterinary use. This was not always
the case, says Sara Ford, DVM, DACVIM, chief of internal medicine at the VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center
in San Diego.
In the past, management was based primarily on clinical signs, largely because blood glucose curves could only be performed
in the hospital, and many animals were euthanized because of complications stemming from poor glucose control. "They would
just crash and burn," says Jack Stephens, DVM, founder and president of Pets Best Insurance.
Standard glucose curve Acceptable ranges
Now we have good research to support current diabetes management recommendations, and owners can expect their pets to live
a fairly normal lifespan if they partner with their pets' healthcare team to manage their pets' disease, says David S. Bruyette,
DVM, DACVIM, medical director at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital in Los Angeles.
"While diabetes is a chronic disease, it is something that clients are capable of managing," he says. "We always try to reassure
the owner that this is something they can do, and it will not interfere with their life."