Holly – April Pet of the Month – Diabetes Awareness

Meet 12 year old Holly, our newly diagnosed diabetic patient and our very brave pet of the month…



What is Diabetes Mellitus?

This month, with the help of Holly’s story, we would like to raise awareness about diabetes mellitus, a common endocrine disorder in our fury friends. Diabetes occurs when there is insufficient insulin production by the pancreas. This is type 1 diabetes and is most common in dogs. Insulin is required for the absorption of glucose. This insulin deficiency results in the inability to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells leading to a high blood glucose. It is treated by injecting the patient with insulin on a daily basis.

Pet diabetes occurs in both dogs and cats, however it is more common in dogs. Holly’s story will focus on canine diabetes though symptoms are very much the same in both species.



Holly first presented to the clinic after her owners were concerned she was drinking and urinating more than often. Common symptoms of diabetes mellitus include:

  • Increased drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite and often weight loss despite this
  • Lethargy
  • Poor coat condition

Diabetes can occur at any stage but, most commonly it occurs from the age of 7 onward. Given Holly’s age and her excessive drinking and urination, these factors led our vet to believe she was a diabetic. A simple blood test during her visit revealed she had a blood glucose of 20mmol/L. The normal range for a dog is 3.0 to 5.0mmol/L. This value however can increase during either times of stress or after having a big meal so, to rule out these factors, Holly came for a second visit the next day. During this time her owner was able to obtain a urine sample. Our nurses ran a urinalysis test which revealed that Holly had an excessive amount of glucose in her urine. This, along with a second blood test with a reading of 28.1mmol/L confirmed that Holly was a diabetic.



Unfortunately, diabetes cannot be cured but it can be treated so the patient can live a normal healthy life. The aim of treatment is to manage the clinical signs or symptoms. Treatment involves injecting the patient with insulin on a daily basis. A strict daily routine must be followed in regards to diet and exercise as these affect insulin requirements. The times at which insulin is injected must be at the same time each day also. For example, Holly needs to be injected twice daily with insulin. Her first injection of insulin is given just after her breakfast at approximately 7am. These set meal times are to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). She cannot be fed between these meal times as treats etc will cause her blood glucose to fluctuate. She is fed a special veterinary prescription diet specifically for diabetics. This diet is high in fibre and low in fat and ensures a slow release of glucose. Her daily exercise must be regular also as this too affects insulin requirements. Her second injection is given at 7pm just after her evening meal.  Although Holly’s daily routine is quite strict her owners adapted these times to suit their schedule too. It is important to find a plan that works for both you and your pet and our nurses were able to offer advise of a daily routine during nursing clinics. Understandably, the idea of having a diabetic pet cab be quite daunting at first. Once diagnosed, our nurses work together with the client and the patient to help them gain better understanding about the disease through diabetic nursing clinics.




A Regular Patient

These days Holly is a regular visitor to the hospital. She comes for her blood glucose curve, a series of blood tests carried out throughout the day to check if her insulin dose is correct for her. Both our vets and nurses love to make a fuss of her and enjoy seeing her wagging tail greet us as she comes to the door. Her brother Tyson also comes along for the day to keep her company. We look fordward to seeing them both very soon at Holly’s next visit!



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