All types of infection are dangerous to diabetics, because they usually cause hyperglycemia[1] and can also cause ketoacidosis. See the Booster page for information on how infections can raise blood glucose levels and why additional short-acting insulin may be needed.

Infections are also capable of causing hypoglycemia[2][3].

Illness also brings with it a need to monitor blood sugar levels more often and to possibly monitor for ketones.

Keep in mind that infections may be invisible without a blood test and urine cultures[4][5].

All with diabetes--pets and people--are more prone to all types of infections than their non-diabetic counterparts. Having diabetes affects your immune system, which is what helps fight off both infections and diseases, such as colds and flu, etc. When the immune system doesn't or can't do this properly, more problems with infections and/or illness can result.

As an instance, dogs with diabetes have been found to be more subject to skin infections than non-diabetics. This study concluded that diabetic dogs are prone to skin problems, particularly bacterial and yeast-induced dermatitis and otitis[6].

Diabetics of all species are more prone to Urinary tract infections than non-diabetics. The increased sugar content of the urine provides a more amenable environment for them[7]. Those with diabetes are more at risk for any type of infections because their immune system doesn't work properly[8]. Untreated bladder infections can easily become Kidney infections, which pose more problems for those with diabetes[9].

A 2004 ACVIM study[10] details the connection between humans with diabetes and pulmonary (of the respiratory system, including the lungs) conditions such as pneumonia. Pneumonia is a common cause of death in persons with diabetes. Until this study, nothing similar had been done regarding determining if this was also true for diabetic dogs and cats. In 15 cases, there were no clinical signs or symptoms of respiratory conditions, but abnormal findings were discovered in the lungs of 12 of the 15 cases. This was a small study and no statistically significant differences were discovered. However, it serves to add credence to the investigators' theory that there is also a higher incidence of pulmonary-related problems present in diabetic dogs and cats. The thought is that by monitoring the respiratory system for signs of problems, some may discovered and treated before they have serious consequences.

New information regarding cats with diabetes indicates that they warrant careful attention to the respiratory tract as there is a significant connection between diabetes and various respiratory disorders[11].

Further ReadingEdit


  1. Abbott Diabetes Care UK-Illness
  2. Hypoglycemia in
  3. Hypoglycemia in
  4. Detection of Occult Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus-Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association-2002
  5. Retrospective Evaluation of Urinary Tract Infection in 42 Dogs with Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's Disease)or Diabetes Mellitus or Both-Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine-1999
  6. JAVMA 2001-Dermatological Disorders in Dogs With Diabetes Mellitus: 45 Cases
  7. Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists-Diabetes Mellitus
  8. Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists-Diabetes Mellitus
  9. Incidence of Bacterial Cystitis in Diabetic Dogs and Cats at the Time of Diagnosis. Retrospective Study for the Period 1990-1996-Tierartzlische Praxis: Ausgabe K Kleintiere/Haustiere-1998--Abstract in English
  10. ACVIM Abstract#62-Diabetes & Respiratory System Disorders
  11. Pulmonary Lesions in Cats with Diabetes Mellitus-Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine-2006

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