New Diabetes Mellitus Treatment for Cats

Previously, if your cat was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus (DM), the only treatment option was diet change and insulin injections. Insulin can only be given if your cat is eating well, and we need to monitor your cat’s blood sugar closely to adjust dosages and make sure they are receiving the right amount of insulin. If insulin treatment seems overwhelming, or you would like to discuss options with your veterinarian, we now have oral mediations, SGLT2 inhibitors, that can treat your cat’s diabetes!

What is an SGLT2 Inhibitor?

A sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor, is a class of drug that can treat diabetes without injections and reduce the amount of monitoring your cat needs long term. There is no need to change your cat’s diet when using this medication as treatment for diabetes.

How Does it Work?

SGLT2 inhibitors are used to lower the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood of otherwise healthy cats with diabetes mellitus not previously treated with insulin. It causes sugar to be passed into the urine by preventing the kidneys from pulling sugar back into the blood.

How is it Given?

The is an oral liquid and an oral tablet available for cats. Both medications are given once daily by mouth or in food.

How Does the Medication Affect My Cat?

You will likely see a decrease or resolution of the clinical signs associated with diabetes. You may see a decrease in the amount of thirst, urine and hunger in your cat, and your cat may gain weight.

What are possible Side Effects?

The most common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea or runny stools, less interest in food or not eating, lack of energy and dehydration. Regular checkups by your veterinarian are needed to monitor for side effects and to tell if your cat’s blood sugar is responding to the medication as expected.

Serious side effects have occurred, with or without warning, and have sometimes led to death in cats treated with these medications. Serious side effects may require your cat to be hospitalized and to be given specific treatments, including insulin.

Stop using the medication immediately and contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the following changes or side effects in your cat:

  • Less interest in food or not eating
  • Lack of energy or change in normal activity (for example, hiding or decreased grooming)
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Weakness, difficulty walking or standing

If My Cat is Currently on Insulin, Can I Switch?

No. Cats who are insulin dependent should not be treated with SGLT2 inhibitors because it may cause serious, sometimes fatal, side effects. Although it is not possible to determine if a cat is insulin dependent at the time of diagnosis, cats that have been treated previously may be at a higher risk of having insulin-dependent diabetes.

Cats need to be screened by your veterinarian to see if they are eligible to receive this medication as a treatment. Your cat needs to be a newly diabetic not receiving insulin. They need to be generally healthy, without liver disease, progressed kidney disease, or pancreatitis.

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