Help! What does it all mean?

We understand that when your pet has been diagnosed with a lifelong condition, it can be very difficult to absorb all the information given to you.

There is a vast amount of information available on the internet.  We have found some websites and provided the links for you regarding some of the most common conditions. We trust the information the listed websites provide to you. 

The Veterinary Expert, there are lots of different articles on there which may be helpful.  All the articles are written by leading Veterinary Surgeons.  They are also developing videos to watch  so watch this space!

Diabetes -

Diabetes is the body's inability to control the normal level of glucose (blood sugar). Glucose provides the cells in the body with energy they need to live and function normally.

Cells can only absorb glucose from the blood in the presence of the hormone insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. Sometimes the pancreas becomes unable to produce enough insulin, or the cells in the body fail to respond normally to insulin. Therefore, the cells in the body cannot absorb enough glucose and too much remains in the blood.

When the blood contains a high level of glucose, some of it is able to leak through the kidneys and it begins to appear in the urine, causing increased urine production. To replace this fluid loss, the affected animal must then drink extra water. Also, because they are losing an important energy source, affected animals tend to lose weight. Because the body cells aren’t absorbing enough glucose for their needs, this sends a signal to the brain and the animal constantly feels hungry. There may also be other signs of low energy, such as lethargy and poor coat condition. The high level of sugar in the urine can cause intermittent or on-going urine infections.


Cats with hyperthyroidism have a thyroid gland that produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormones.

These hormones have several functions:

  • They are essential to proper growth of body cells
  • They help regulate metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrate by cells
  • They are involved in the regulation of heat production and oxygen consumption

This excessive amount of hormone causes a dramatic increase in the body’s metabolic rate – the speed at which the body uses up calories.

This means that a cat with hyperthyroidism burns calories very quickly and has to eat a lot of food to provide this energy. As the condition progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for a cat to eat enough to provide the huge amount of energy required, so they start to lose weight. This is why the most common clinical sign in cats with hyperthyroidism is weight loss - despite a ravenous appetite. A high metabolic rate also causes increased heart rate, high blood pressure and restlessness. Cats may also have an increased frequency of vomiting and diarrhoea, increased drinking and an unkempt coat.

Addison's Disease

Addison's Disease (or hypoadrenocorticism) is a disease in which the adrenal glands are destroyed, usually by the dog's own immune system, resulting in their loss of function. This means that the steroid hormones, which are normally produced by the adrenal glands, can no longer be produced.

Addison's Disease usually develops in young to middle-aged dogs (most commonly between 4-6 years of age) and is more often reported in female dogs

Cushing's Disease

Cushing's disease, or hyperadrenocorticism to give it its proper name, is a condition where the body overproduces the cortisol steroid hormone.  It's a fairly common condition in middle aged and older dogs. 

Dogs normally need some steroids for their bodies to function properly and they are produced by the adrenal gland, which sits next to the kidney. The adrenal gland is sent messages to produce cortisol by the pituitary gland, which sits at the base of the brain. If a dog gets a growth on either of these glands, this can send hormone production into overdrive which leads to a number of symptoms.

The majority of Cushing’s cases are caused by a benign tumour on the pituitary gland. Tumours on the adrenal gland also cause this disease, but are less common. High level use of steroids, used to treat immune disorders or allergies, can also cause Cushing’s disease.