Diet and diabetes mellitus - are we killing them with kindness?


Head, Animal Diabetes Australia, Australia


Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common endocrine diseases of dogs and cats. The disease can be fatal if not treated, but affected animals can lead long, healthy lives if the condition is managed. A close rapport between the pet owner and their veterinarian is required for successful outcomes because much of the treatment and monitoring is performed by the owner at home under veterinary guidance. Therefore understanding of the individual companion animal-human bond is required in addition to knowledge of glucose homeostasis, nutrition, disease pathophysiology, and insulin treatment. This means that management of diabetes can be one of the most challenging and also one of the most rewarding aspects of small animal clinical practice. 


Learning objectives: 


Part 1: Insulin 

  • Outline what insulin does and why it is important 

  • Identify the major factors influencing glucose homeostasis 

  • Recognise scenarios when insulin resistance might occur 


Part 2: Diabetes mellitus 

  • List the common reasons why beta cells fail 

  • Outline the consequences of insulin deficiency 

  • Recognise how animals compensate for insulin deficiency 

  • Recognise why compensatory mechanisms might fail 

  • Identify the common complications of diabetes mellitus 


Part 3: Management of diabetes mellitus 

  • Recognise the important issues and limitations experienced by owners of diabetic pets 

  • Identify commonly recommended insulin products 

  • Identify the key nutritional factors that influence diabetic management 

  • Outline the differences in management strategy between dogs and cats 

  • Plan ongoing monitoring and reassessment of diabetic pets 

  • Recognise scenarios when remission of diabetes might occur

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