How Do Dogs and Cats Get Diabetes?

By veterinarian Dr. Fiona for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats

Hi, I’m Doctor Fiona Caldwell. I’m a veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital, and I’m answering questions from pet owners today for Pets Best, and this question is, “Are dogs and cats born with diabetes, or can they develop it at any age?” The classic diabetes that you’re probably referring to, diabetes mellitus, well, they’re not born with it.

There are basically two different types of diabetes, and the same holds true in pets and your Type I diabetes typically happen in children. There’s nothing that they did to predispose themselves to it. Nobody really knows why it happens, but for whatever reason their bodies stop producing insulin.  These children need to have insulin in order to survive. The type II diabetes is your classic, generalizing here, overweight person, and sometimes changing their lifestyle, losing weight, becoming more active, and changing their diet, they can actually influence how their diabetes acts, and they don’t always have to rely on insulin.

There’s Type I and Type II diabetes in pets as well.  If a dog develops diabetes, they will always have Type I. Cats are a little trickier. Sometimes they can be influenced by diet changes, weight loss, that type of thing, more like Type II diabetes. We do find that they can develop diabetes at any age, however, it’s a lot more common in middle age to older pets, and it tends to be more common in overweight pets as well. Your veterinarian is going to be the best judge to help you determine whether or not your diabetic animal needs to have insulin in order to survive.

If you guys have questions or concerns, feel free to post below on Pets Best Facebook page.


  • evelyn

    my 4 year old neutered male sometimes marks in the house. I’ve never caught him in the act. What to do?

  • Lori

    I have a 13 yr old chihuahua that developed diabetes 3 yrs. ago. We are in different areas for months working, Her sugar is perfect. But what I am having trouble with is when we come home. We were on 3 1/2 units n all was good for 7mnths, now we are up to 5 units??? She is running in 30000. Haven’tchanged anything. Her daily meal twice a day. She gets 1/4 cup of dry Eukuabun1/2 tray of ceasers wet. I have looked for what’s the best food but not knowing its scary. Any ideas on something that is better from pet stores? Tried the science diet for diabetes, stubborn wouldn’t eat. She is very much spoiled. Thanks!!!

  • Lori

    On original comment her sugar levels is perfect. But now at home its in 300 – 400’s. We have been on strict schedule since she was diagnosed.


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