These days, in veterinary medicine we are seeing more and more cases of diabetes in pets.
Diabetes mellitus is a condition that occurs due to insulin deficiency within the body.
Just like the human form of the disease, Type 1 is insulin-dependent and is more common in both humans and companion animals.
Type 2 diabetes is the non-insulin dependent form of the disease and it is rarely seen in dogs and only occasionally in cats.
The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing insulin.
There are special cells within the pancreas that release the insulin and if they are damaged then diabetes can result.
The damage can be the result of genetic influences, environmental factors, inflammation or even the body's own immune system.
The signs and symptoms to look out for in our pets are an increase in water consumption and an increase in urination.
Also, diabetic animals tend to lose weight despite a good appetite.
If left undiagnosed and untreated for too long, symptoms may progress to vomiting, diarrhoea and an eventual decrease in appetite.
Unfortunately, cataracts and eventual blindness can develop in dogs even with appropriate treatment, but surgical correction for blindness is a potential option for some dogs.
Diabetes mellitus is relatively easy to diagnose as it requires the detection of elevated blood sugars (glucose) as well as the presence of those sugars in the urine.
Treatment is described as multi-factorial as it often involves diet change, insulin injections and gentle exercise to help with weight management.
For dogs, insulin therapy usually becomes part of a lifelong daily routine, however in some cats, remission is possible, so insulin therapy is sometimes only required transiently, and it may be that at some point it would no longer be needed.
While requiring dedicated owner commitment, most diabetic animals live a full and healthy life with appropriate veterinary care along the way.
If you are suspicious of diabetes in your pet, please speak to your vet as soon as possible.