Author(s): Bennett N
One of the keys to achieving glycemic control in animals with diabetes mellitus is the appropriate selection and interpretation of analytic monitoring tests. Diabetic animals are subject to many of the same problems described in human diabetics. Diabetics are more susceptible to infection, and wound healing is often impaired. Decreased insulin promotes lipolysis and moderate hyperlipidemia, which can lead to falsely lowered fructosamine levels, impaired renal circulation, and atherosclerosis. Hyperglycemic, hypoinsulinemic animals continue to lose weight despite an increased appetite and an increased intake because they are not able to use glucose. Many unregulated diabetic animals will present with vomiting and diarrhea that can exacerbate electrolyte abnormalities seen with the osmotic diuresis present in an uncontrolled state. Canine diabetics are prone to cataract formation secondary to sorbitol accumulation in the lens. Cats, on the other hand, can present with diabetic distal neuropathy, which may be reversible with appropriate treatment. With all of these potential complications, it is important to monitor these animals regularly; this is the only way that glycemic control can be properly maintained over time. This article reviews the monitoring parameters available to the modern practitioner and outlines the benefits of each test, as well as caveats, in their interpretation.