Diabetes is a condition that affects pets as well as humans. The disease has very similar causes in pets to those in humans, but the predominance of genetic causes and environmental causes is strongly species specific in cases of feline and canine diabetes. Cats are far more prone to developing Type II diabetes while dogs tend more toward the equivalent of adult onset Type I diabetes.
Felines are more prone to develop the condition as a result of environmental features. This is because the type they tend to get is based on insulin resistance that builds up over time. It can be made much worse by loving owners who allow their pets to become obese due to inactivity. Their diet is also a major concern. Low fat, low carbohydrate, high protein meals are best for cats and lower the chance of them developing a diabetic condition.
Another environmental factor that can lead to a cat developing diabetes is having a male cat neutered. Males are genetically more predisposed to the condition than females in the first place, but neutering increases their chance of developing the condition to nearly 100 percent in late life.
Dogs, on the other hand, are genetically predisposed to develop Type I diabetes as a result of a marked reduction in the production of insulin by their pancreas. Unlike humans, this condition tends to develop later in life, though the causative factors remain much the same. Dogs are generally 7 years old or older before they develop the condition as a result of pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer that stops the production of insulin.
In either case, the result is the destruction of beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, leaving the animal completely dependent on insulin injections administered by the owner to survive.
Whether the condition is feline diabetes or canine diabetes, the diagnosis is usually not made until after symptoms begin to show up such as renal failure or diabetic neuropathy in the hind legs. The threshold for blood glucose is much higher in these animals than in humans before a diagnosis is made.
The primary differences between the two animals' forms of diabetes are that the vast majority of felines can have their condition controlled by changes in diet and exercise routines with or without the addition of non-insulin anti-diabetic medications. Canines, on the other hand, are almost always insulin dependent after the condition develops.
Genetics plays a large part in both species and their development of diabetes. However, environmental factors play a much stronger role in the development of the condition in cats than in dogs. Dogs are much more likely to develop it as a result of a genetic predisposition.
Beyond these primary differences, feline and canine diabetes follow much the same patterns of development as those seen in humans. Pets can suffer either Type I, Type II, or gestational diabetes, just as humans do. Dogs may not develop the condition while pregnant as often as when they are in a diestrus state.
One common factor that is seen in both cats and dogs is that the onset of the disease is not normally seen until the animal is well into its adult years. While dogs are more prone to becoming completely insulin dependent, cats are more likely to be able to have their condition controlled via other means.
Feline and canine diabetes are often not recognized until the disease has progressed to a point where it has caused permanent damage to the body of the pet suffering from this condition. Therefore, regardless of the type of diabetes they suffer from and the treatment options available, a great deal of care from the owner is required in order to keep the pet alive.