If your dog or cat suddenly seems to be drinking more water than usual, and is having accidents around the house it doesn't necessary mean he needs a housetraining refresher course-he may, in fact, be suffering from one of a few metabolic diseases which can cause these exact symptoms, notably diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is a fairly common condition in pets and people. Dogs have a type of diabetes that is more similar to that seen in children, type 1; they lack sufficient insulin. Cats tend to mimic human adult onset diabetes, type 2, which can often be controlled with dietary changes or oral medications.
The hallmark of diabetes mellitus is too much sugar in the blood stream. Sugar, in the form of glucose, is unable to get into cells where it is used as an energy source. This can be due to a failure of insulin production by a gland called the pancreas (type 1 diabetes) or the inability of the cells to respond properly to the insulin that is present (type 2 diabetes). The body believes that it's in a state of starvation. In an attempt to find alternate sources of energy, the body starts to breakdown its reserves of protein and fat, which then leads to a loss of body condition.
Under normal circumstances, sugar is not lost in the urine. With diabetes, sugar is voided along with large quantities of water. This excessive urination leads to increased thirst and increased water intake.
The main signs that you may see in an uncontrolled diabetic dog or cat are increased thirst, increased urination and an increased appetite.
Why does the pancreas fail to produce adequate insulin or the cells not respond properly? This is still an area of active investigation. If your veterinarian diagnoses your pet with diabetes mellitus, don't panic. Working as a team, you and your veterinarian can typically regulate this condition with modifications in feeding, insulin injections and/or oral medications, and the monitoring of blood sugar. Some pets are easier to regulate than others but it can be done.
What can happen to your pet if you don't address this disease? Potential complications of diabetes are cataracts, urinary tract infections, seizures, organ failure, and even death.