The glucose–insulin connection

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Diabetes is a chronic disease that can affect dogs and cats and other animals (including apes, pigs, and horses) as well as humans. Although diabetes can’t be cured, it can be managed very successfully.

Diabetes mellitus, or “sugar diabetes,” is the type of diabetes seen most often in dogs. It is a metabolism disorder. Metabolism refers to how the body converts food to energy.

To understand what diabetes is, it helps to understand some of this process.

The glucose–insulin connection

The conversion of food nutrients into energy to power the body’s cells involves an ongoing interplay of two things:

• Glucose: essential fuel for the body’s cells. When food is digested, the body breaks down some of the nutrients into glucose, a type of sugar that is a vital source of energy for certain body cells and organs. The glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, which then transports the glucose throughout the body.

• Insulin: in charge of fuel delivery. Meanwhile, an important organ next to the stomach called the pancreas releases the hormone insulin into the body. Insulin acts as a “gatekeeper” that tells cells to grab glucose and other nutrients out of the bloodstream and use them as fuel.

Learn more at Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment