The following notes have been prepared to help you cope with the after care required to maximise the quality and quantity of a diabetic pets life


The principle signs of diabetes in the cat and dog are

Weight loss

A period of excessive appetite with paradoxical weight loss

A great thirst

We often use these three signs to gain an idea how our patients are responding to treatment. In humans, diabetes is either type I or type II. Type II patients (the common form in humans) can get buy with dietary control, tablets etc. Type I suffers require daily insulin by injection. Dogs are all type I and require insulin (just about all require it twice daily). Cats on the other hand are a mixture of type I (60%) and type II (40%), but best results are obtained in both situations with daily insulin injections. Some cats can get by with once daily insulin, but the majority requires twice daily insulin injections

The problem of diabetes relates to the pancreas. Special cells (beta cells) fail to produce sufficient insulin for the animal’s requirement. Insulin allows blood sugars to get inside and feed cells. Without it, body cells are bathed in “food” but can’t eat! So the animal essentially starves to death despite eating a lot! During starvation, fats are metabolised. The waste products of this metabolism if in excess are toxic and make the animal feel ill and can even lead to death

The discharge appointment

When discharged the vet will show you

how we perform insulin injections

How to draw up the correct amount

Where to inject How to inject -the vet may demonstrate this using sterile water. They will then give you a go and check your technique

How often to inject – once daily or twice daily

It is a very easy technique to master. Before long you will find it all very easy


You will make weekly revisits until the patient is stable

Five to six hours after morning insulin injection-if twice daily dosing

Nine to ten hours after morning insulin injection -if once daily dosing

What to feed

Diabetic animals are best fed the following diets

Obese – Hill’s r/d diet NB m/d available for cats

Normal – Hill’s w/d diet

Under weight – just feed normal diets until weigh back to normal then feed w/d

The reasoning being that high fibre diets reduce insulin requirements, reduce post feeding blood glucose peaks

When to feed

Idea = Give insulin something to work upon


Feed a small amount of the daily ration before you inject the morning insulin. If eaten, then inject insulin and feed half of daily ration

Feed the other 1/2 of diet after the 2nd injection later in the day


In principle should feed cats as above. Do so if possible, however cats are often grazers, if this is the case just leaving sufficient food down all day long is OK

Water must be available ad lib at all times

Potential Complications of Diabetes

Don’t worry, we do not imply all the following will happen, but some could happen and it is best you are aware of it


This is where the blood glucose levels drop too low. This is easy to spot, as the signs are very distinctive

  • Very strange behaviour- as if spaced out
  • Collapse
  • Staggering

Cause – Insulin overdose.

Solution – Give concentrated glucose solution by mouth. Keep a saturated solution of glucose in your fridge with a syringe attached. You can purchase Glucodin powder from your local chemist. If you do not have that available then honey is a second best choice. The amount you give should give is not fixed. Don’t worry you cannot really overdo it. After this dosing it is best you bring your pet into the surgery for a blood glucose test and discuss why things may have gone wrong

Kidney Failure

Kidney failure can follow on from diabetes. So we might also want to occasionally monitor blood SDMA or Creatinine levels. Indicators of renal function


All dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts at some stage. Onset is usually quite rapid. Cataracts can occasionally go clear when they age, but there is no guarantee of this. A veterinary ophthalmologist can remove cataracts surgically and vision is restored

Chronic Skin infections

Especially seen in dogs. This is easily controlled with antiseptic shampoos and antibiotics when necessary


Cats and dogs with diabetes (esp. cats) are prone to bladder infections. Treatment is normally by antibiotics +/- analgesia

Further blood testing

Once stable, we will monitor blood glucose levels. Typically this occurs 1 month after reaching stability. If this result is OK then ever 2-3 months