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Client perspectives on the support provided for the management of diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats

02 June 2024
16 mins read
Volume 15 · Issue 5
Figure 1. Bar chart displaying how participants found out about different management options for their pet's DM (n=93). CGM, continuous glucose monitoring; HBGM, home blood glucose monitoring.
Figure 1. Bar chart displaying how participants found out about different management options for their pet's DM (n=93). CGM, continuous glucose monitoring; HBGM, home blood glucose monitoring.



Literature suggests that owners of pets with diabetes mellitus are not adequately supported by veterinary professionals to manage their pet's condition. Quality of life assessments for diabetic pets in practice often focus on the animal's clinical signs and overlook owner feedback.


To investigate client perspectives on how having a dog or cat with diabetes mellitus affects pet and owner quality of life, the challenges faced and management options available, and how support could be improved.


A questionnaire was designed using the online tool ‘NoviSurvey’ and completed by UK-based owners.


Out of the 99 valid responses, 26% of participants disagreed that their veterinary practice supported them with their pet's diabetes mellitus. Results showed that diabetes mellitus is perceived to have a significant effect on quality of life of not only the pet with the disease but also the owner who is managing it.


The effects of having a pet with diabetes mellitus on quality of life are being overlooked by the veterinary profession. Online support groups are an important platform for these owners to connect but should not be their primary source of advice because of a lack of veterinary support. Registered veterinary nurses are well placed to carry out regular quality of life assessments and provide evidence-based advice during clinics.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is an increasingly common endocrine disease of companion animals. However, owners are still struggling with the management requirements of their diabetic pets (Hamlin, 2010). It is a vital role of the registered veterinary nurse to provide informed advice and effective support to clients with diabetic cats and dogs to maximise quality of life (QoL) of both owner and pet (Scudder et al, 2016).

Owners' feedback is crucial for gaining information on how a pet's DM is being managed at home and its effects on QoL (Reusch et al, 2006). Niessen et al (2012) found that the highest-rated negatively impacting factors of having a pet with DM were related to the owner's QoL rather than the pet's. Furthermore, Niessen et al (2012) found that negative comments regarding support from veterinary professionals came up frequently in the free comments section of their QoL questionnaire, highlighting that long-term support of owners is often being overlooked. In addition, a study by Rothlin-Zachrisson et al (2023) showed that approximately half of owners reported limitations to their daily life as a result of their cat's DM. Aptekmann and Schwartz (2011) found that 31% of owners reported an increase in attachment to their pet associated with the daily management requirements of their DM. This could be seen as a positive result of having a pet with DM, or perhaps these owners feel more attached to their pet as a result of feelings of guilt because they perceive their animal to be suffering.

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