Living with diabetes blog

Pets with diabetes

By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N. and Peggy Moreland, R.N. February 25, 2012

This week I'd like to deviate from the human nature of diabetes and chat, instead, about our animal friends (pets) with diabetes. For the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to have a dog in my life, so I started looking at local websites for adoptable dogs. I'm looking for a medium to large adult female dog that's trained, laid back and likes children. A particular dog caught my eye. Her name is Carlie, and she's a golden retriever and Labrador mix. Carlie has diabetes and is in a foster home that's taking great care of her. Carlie was extremely overweight and has gone from 118 pounds to 75 pounds. Her foster parents have her on a special diet and exercise regimen, and she's given insulin injections twice a day. I started asking my patients about their pets. The first patient I saw today told me her dog has diabetes.

I recently did some research on pets with diabetes and found that:

  • Diabetes is on the rise in United States cats and dogs as they, and we, become more overweight.
  • Overweight cats are six times more likely to develop diabetes than are thinner cats.
  • Symptoms of diabetes in pets include excessive urination, increased thirst and weight loss.
  • Dogs often get type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes is more common in cats.
  • Like humans, dogs properly treated for diabetes typically live a long, full life.

Right now, I have a choice whether or not to take on the management of owning a pet with diabetes, unlike those of you who have diabetes and have no choice but to cope with the daily self-management of this chronic disease. As a first time dog owner, Carlie would be quite a commitment, and I don't know if I have the time or resources to manage her properly. I want to make the right decision for me and her. I'll keep you posted on my decision.

Please share stories about your pets with diabetes, including pros and cons.

Update: You may be wondering what I decided about adopting Carlie — the dog with diabetes. After some serious thought, I decided not to adopt her. Bringing any dog into your life is a big commitment. When you adopt a dog, you sign up for their lifetime of their care, which includes time and money. I work full time and am also in graduate school. Ultimately, I didn't feel like it would be fair to Carlie. Thanks to all of you for your insights and advice. I've appreciated learning from your experiences.

Have a great week.



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Feb. 25, 2012