Diabetes mellitus occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is required for the body to efficiently use sugars, fats and proteins.
Diabetes most commonly occurs in middle age to older dogs and cats, but occasionally occurs in young animals. When diabetes occurs in young animals, it is often genetic and may occur in related animals. Diabetes mellitus occurs more commonly in female dogs and in male cats.
Certain conditions predispose a dog or cat to developing diabetes. Animals that are overweight or those with inflammation of the pancreas are predisposed to developing diabetes. Some drugs can interfere with insulin, leading to diabetes. Glucocorticoids, which are cortisone-type drugs, and hormones used for heat control are drugs that are most likely to cause diabetes. These are commonly used drugs and only a small percentage of animals receiving these drugs develop diabetes after long term use.