Diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis--cause or effect?

J Small Anim Pract. 2015 Jan;56(1):50-9. doi: 10.1111/jsap.12295.


Diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis are two distinct diseases encountered commonly in small animal practice. Whilst the clinical signs of diabetes mellitus are usually unmistakeable, a firm diagnosis of pancreatitis can prove more elusive, as clinical signs are often variable. Over the past 10 to 15 years, despite the fact that the clinical signs of diabetes mellitus are remarkably consistent, it has become more apparent that the underlying pathology of diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats is heterogeneous, with exocrine pancreatic inflammation accompanying diabetes mellitus in a number of cases. However, the question remains as to whether the diabetes mellitus causes the pancreatitis or whether, conversely, the pancreatitis leads to diabetes mellitus--as there is evidence to support both scenarios. The concurrence of diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis has clinical implications for case management as such cases may follow a more difficult clinical course, with their glycaemic control being "brittle" as a result of variation in the degree of pancreatic inflammation. Problems may also arise if abdominal pain or vomiting lead to anorexia. In addition, diabetic cases with pancreatitis are at risk of developing exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in the following months to years, which can complicate their management further.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases / etiology*
  • Cat Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cats
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diabetes Complications / etiology
  • Diabetes Complications / veterinary
  • Diabetes Mellitus / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / etiology*
  • Dog Diseases / physiopathology
  • Dogs
  • Pancreas / physiopathology