Animal models of disease: classification and etiology of diabetes in dogs and cats

J Endocrinol. 2014 Sep;222(3):T1-9. doi: 10.1530/JOE-14-0202. Epub 2014 Jun 30.


Diabetes mellitus is a common disease in dogs and cats. The most common form of diabetes in dogs resembles type 1 diabetes in humans. Studies suggest that genetics, an immune-mediated component, and environmental factors are involved in the development of diabetes in dogs. A variant of gestational diabetes also occurs in dogs. The most common form of diabetes in cats resembles type 2 diabetes in humans. A major risk factor in cats is obesity. Obese cats have altered expression of several insulin signaling genes and glucose transporters and are leptin resistant. Cats also form amyloid deposits within the islets of the pancreas and develop glucotoxicity when exposed to prolonged hyperglycemia. This review will briefly summarize our current knowledge about the etiology of diabetes in dogs and cats and illustrate the similarities among dogs, cats, and humans.

Keywords: autoimmune; diabetes; insulin resistance; islet cells; obesity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / classification*
  • Cat Diseases / etiology
  • Cats
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / classification
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / veterinary*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / classification
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / veterinary*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / etiology
  • Diabetes, Gestational / veterinary
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dog Diseases / classification*
  • Dog Diseases / etiology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / veterinary
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Species Specificity