Background: Diabetes is common in dogs, with an estimated prevalence of 0.32% in the UK. Clinical signs, as in man, include polydipsia, polyuria and weight loss, associated with hyperglycaemia and glucosuria. Diabetes typically occurs in dogs between 5 and 12 years of age, and is uncommon under 3 years of age. Breeds predisposed to diabetes include the Samoyed, Tibetan Terrier and Cairn Terrier, while others such as the Boxer and German Shepherd Dog seem less susceptible. These breed differences suggest a genetic component, and at least one dog leucocyte antigen haplotype (DLA DRB1*009, DQA1*001, DQB1*008) appears to be associated with susceptibility to diabetes.
Methods: Canine diabetes can be classified into insulin deficiency diabetes (IDD), resulting from a congenital deficiency or acquired loss of pancreatic beta cells, or insulin resistance diabetes resulting mainly from hormonal antagonism of insulin function.
Results: There is no evidence for a canine equivalent of human type 2 diabetes. Adult-onset IDD, requiring insulin therapy, is the most common form, with pancreatitis and/or immune-mediated beta cell destruction considered to be the major underlying causes of the disease.
Discussion: Autoantibodies to insulin, recombinant canine GAD65 and/or canine islet antigen-2 have been identified in a proportion of newly diagnosed diabetic dogs, suggesting that autoimmunity is involved in the pathogenesis of disease in some patients.
Conclusion: The late onset and slow progression of beta cell dysfunction in canine diabetes resembles latent autoimmune diabetes of the adult in man.