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Pet Diabetes

Like humans, pets can get diabetes. Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas and simply put, is caused by the failure of the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. Diabetes is more common in middle-aged to older pets, however, younger and pregnant animals can also develop this condition. Female dogs are more likely to develop diabetes than male dogs. Certain breeds may be predisposed to diabetes, for example Golden Retrievers, Miniature Pinschers, Dobermans and Beagles. In cats, diabetes is most common after the age of six. Obesity may also predispose a pet to diabetes. Our veterinarians at Village Veterinary Clinic in Burke are experienced in diagnosing diabetes and developing a treatment plan including proper medication, dietary, and exercise recommendations.

Puppies sitting on counter at Vet's office

What are the

symptoms of diabetes?

The most common symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Excessive thirst and urination

  • Increased appetite

  • Weight loss, despite increased appetite

  • Persistently high blood glucose levels

  • Presence of glucose in the urine

  • Urinary tract infections, chronics or recurring skin infections

If your pet exhibits these symptoms, it is important that your pet see one of our Burke veterinarians for treatment as soon as possible. Proper management of diabetes will help ensure your pet lives a longer and healthier life.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Generally, our veterinarians will perform a complete blood count (CBC), a serium biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis. They will check for, amongst other things, consistent hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose levels) and glucosuria (presence of glucose in the urine).

How is diabetes treated?

Diabetic pets require significant care in terms of regular administration of medication, attention to diet and exercise, and follow-up visits to make sure your pet is properly regulated. Consistency in treatment is important to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), both of which are extremely serious and could be life-threatening.


Your pet will need regular insulin injections to keep his or her blood sugar levels under control. Typically pets require insulin administered twice a day. Our staff will teach you how to administer the injections and monitor your pet’s blood sugar levels. We can order you a glucose monitoring kit for home use. Initially, your pet will be hospitalized for a day or more so that we can run a “glucose curve”. Glucose readings are taken throughout the day(s) so our veterinarians can determine how your pet reacts to the insulin and to determine the proper dosing. After that, your pet will need to return periodically for testing so that we can ensure he or she is still well regulated.


Your pet will require a special diet. We carry Royal Canin and Hills diets. Both companies manufacture canned and dry diets specifically formulated for diabetic pets. For dogs, this generally involves a high-fiber diet. For cats, the diet is generally one higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. Feeding is recommended twice daily just before each insulin injection.


Daily exercise is important for your pet. Our veterinarians can help you create a realistic exercise plan to manage the diabetes.

Regular Check-Ups

Regular check-ups are important to manage your pet’s diabetes.

If you notice any significant change in your pet’s appetite, weight, water consumption, or urine output, this may indicate your pet’s diabetes is not well controlled. Schedule an appointment with Village Veterinary Clinic in Burke at 703-978-8655. Diabetes is a serious condition and immediate treatment is essential.

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