What is diabetes mellitus and what causes it?
Diabetes mellitus is caused by an absolute or relative deficiency of insulin. Animals with an absolute or relative deficiency of insulin are called diabetics.

>Insulin deficiency can develop for different reasons:

I have heard about diabetes insipidus, is that the same as diabetes mellitus?
No. Diabetes insipidus, also known as “water diabetes” is caused when large amounts of dilute urine are produced. It is a far less common condition than diabetes mellitus. Diabetes insipidus is caused by problems in part of the brain or in the kidneys. There is no glucose present in the urine of animals with diabetes insipidus.

What signs do dogs with diabetes typically show?
The most common symptoms of diabetes mellitus are:

What do the terms polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia mean?

How is diabetes diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will measure your dog’s blood glucose and test your dog’s urine for the presence of glucose and ketones.

Persistently high blood glucose levels along with glucose in the urine usually mean that your dog has diabetes mellitus.

Are all dogs susceptible to diabetes?
Dogs and of all ages can get diabetes. Diabetes most typically occurs in middle aged to older dogs.

What other problems can be associated with diabetes?
Problems associated with diabetes are generally seen in long standing cases, these include cataracts in dogs.

What other diseases have the same signs as diabetes?
Dogs with diabetes mellitus drink and urinate a lot. They may also have a good or increased appetite but usually lose rather than gain weight. Other common diseases where some or all or some of these are also seen include:

To reach a definitive diagnosis of diabetes mellitus your veterinarian will test your dog’s blood glucose concentrations and for the presence of urine glucose and ketones.

What is the expected life span of a diabetic dog?
With dedication, the correct treatment, lifestyle and adequate monitoring a diabetic dog should have the same expected life span as a non-diabetic dog.

Can I still use a vial of insulin if it freezes?
No. freezing will damage the insulin molecules and reduce the efficacy of the product. If a vial of insulin accidentally freezes in the fridge, it should be discarded and a new vial should be used.

What should insulin look like?
Insulin is a mixture of two different types of insulin. Normally, after gentle mixing (invert (upend) the bottle several times), Insulin will appear uniformly clear to slightly cloudy and should not have lumps or flakes floating in it. If you see clumps or flakes floating in the vial after you have resuspended the product, do not use it.

A small white ring of sediment may be seen in the neck of some vials of insulin. The ring of sediment forms when the product has not been kept stored continuously in an upright position. A small ring of dried out insulin does not affect the quality of the product. Insulin should be stored refrigerated and in an upright position.

Always check on the appearance of the insulin before using it!

How long can I keep and use a bottle of insulin after the first dose has been withdrawn?

Insulin should be stored in a refrigerator and not frozen. It is usually advised that any pharmaceutical product should be disposed of around one month after opening.

What must I do if I know that I missed part of an injection?
Do not try to top up the insulin dose. It is best to leave your pet until the next insulin dose is required and then continue as normal. A brief period of high blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) due to too low an insulin dose is not as serious or as dangerous as the possibility of causing low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) by topping up with too much insulin.

What should I do if I have or think I have given too much insulin?
Contact your veterinarian and explain the situation.

Monitor your dog carefully for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia):

If you see any of these signs try to encourage your dog to eat a small meal or if this fails rub some glucose solution or honey on your pet’s gums.
Read more under emergencies.

What should I do if I think that my pet has very low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia)?
The following signs may indicate hypoglycaemia:

If you see any of these signs try to encourage your dog to eat a small meal or if this fails rub some glucose solution or honey on your pet’s gums.
Read more under emergencies.

Should my diabetic dog still receive annual vaccinations?
It is perfectly safe for your diabetic pet to receive their annual vaccinations. In fact, this annual check up also gives your veterinarian a good opportunity to give your pet a complete check up. By keeping your diabetic pet healthy, there will be fewer fluctuations in its insulin requirements.

Is it safe for a dog with diabetes mellitus to receive a general anaesthetic?
Normally animals need to have an empty stomach before they are anaesthetized. A diabetic pet that has not been fed needs far less insulin. Your veteriinarian will advise you how much insulin to give your pet before it is admitted or may wish to administer a reduced dose of insulin for you. Usually a diabetic pet is administered intravenous fluid therapy during an anaesthesia. This is a means of giving fluid to the animal when it cannot drink itself. Apart from needing a reduced amount of insulin and fluid therapy (which is also given to some non-diabetic animals undergoing anesthesia), your diabetic dog is not at any additional risk from anaesthesia than a normal dog of the same age.