Call Now 318-686-5945


Download & Print Me

So your pet has Diabetes…

Diabetes in cats and dogs is a growing problem, with some estimates saying that one in three dogs will develop the disease. Diabetes is a condition in which the body cannot produce or use insulin properly, leading to high blood glucose levels. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to get into the cells in your pet’s body, so when your pet has diabetes, glucose builds up in the blood instead of getting into the cells.

A diabetic pet’s BG (blood glucose) may rise to as high as 700-800mg/dl but most will fall in the 400-600 mg/dl range. The goal of treatment is to maintain as close to a normal glucose level as possible. Normal blood glucose range Is 80-120 mg/dl.

Types of Diabetes

There are two types of diabetes in pets: type 1 and type 2. Both are characterized by high blood sugar levels due to an inability to produce enough insulin. Type 1 diabetes occurs when there is an autoimmune attack on the pancreas, causing it to stop producing insulin. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin and stops responding to it effectively. Both types can occur in pets, though type 2 is more common.

Testing & Treatment

Treatment for diabetes in pets may include diet changes and insulin injections. At home management includes monitoring food intake and exercise levels, as well as blood glucose levels on a regular basis. Your pet’s blood glucose level should be tested regularly. The normal range is 70-120 mg/dl in dogs and 80-150 mg/dl in cats. If their levels are higher than this, it means they’re experiencing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and may need treatment for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).


First, it’s important that you feed your pet before giving insulin. This allows youmake sure your pet is feeling and eating normally before the insulin dose is given. It is important that you create a strict schedule of feeding and insulin administration. Call the vet for instructions if your pet is not eating, or if you suspect their BG is too high or too low. Getting your pet’s blood glucose regulated can take up to a month, and the clinical signs of successful diabeticmanagement include frequent monitoring with no recurrence of clinical signs.

If you’ve never given injections before, don’t worry: these injections are given subcutaneously—under the skin—and not in a vein. You should find this process fairly easy to master after the first few.

There are several different forms of insulin. When getting a new insulin prescription it is very important to make sure that you are giving the same insulin specifically for pets. Double check that it is the same one that you have been prescribed by your vet and that you are using the correct dosages. Most insulin uses unit syringes (U40 vs U100). Insulin should be kept in the refrigerator. Read the instructions for specific medication. Vetsulin should be gently shaken, while NPH should be gently rolled in the hands. Insulin should be regularly checked for any changes in color or evidence of any precipitants floating in the vial. You can find more tips and information about administering insulin at vetsulin.com and veterinarypartner.com


Making small changes can help! Your Southern Hills Animal Hospital veterinarian can instruct you on making lifestyle changes than may make managing diabetes easier for you and your pet. Feeding a specific veterinarian recommended diet is helpful in regulating diabetes because they tend to limit post eating spikes in blood glucose. Diabetic dog diets are typically higher in fiber and lower in fat.


The signs of diabetes in pets can be very subtle at first, but they can progress quickly. Signs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Hunger

Nervous about staying on top of your pet’s diabetes? There are some great apps available for keeping track of your pet’s BG levels, and some of these apps can share your data directly with your Vet! Try the “RVC Pet Diabetes App”. Remember, the doctors and staff at Southern Hills are happy to help and answer any questions you may have about managing your pet’s disease and your pet’s health in general. Don’t hesitate to call us if you need assistance—we’re here to make sure your animal companion has as many happy, healthy years as possible. Call us at (318) 686-5945.