CHICAGO (CBS) – Diabetes has become a common diagnosis amongst pets. CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports spotting the early signs is the key to their survival.

Ashes is a 14-year-old cat. His owner, Christie Castellano, became concerned when she noticed subtle behavior changes.

“What I noticed is that Ashes started to drink a lot of water from every place: his bowl, the sink, the tub, the puddles outside,” said Castellano. “The other thing that comes with drinking a lot of water is then he had to go to the bathroom a lot.”

Castellano took her cat to the vet and learned the unexpected.

“He did some blood tests and found out that he was diabetic,” she said.

Diabetes can also affect dogs. Common symptoms include excessive thirst, increase in urination, hair loss, weight loss and severe hunger.

Like in humans, there are different types of diabetes in pets.

“Type 1 diabetes is where it’s just a problem where they don’t have enough insulin in their systems, or the cells are not responsive to it so you need more insulin,” said Veterinarian Alison Flynn Lurie. “And Type 2 is more related to exercise and diet.”

Type 1 typically affects dogs. Type 2 is more common in cats.

“It seems to be more and more of a problem, especially Type 2 in indoor cats, because they don’t get out very much and their lifestyles are much more sedentary than outdoor cats,” said Lurie.

For treating Type 2 in cats, diet is the first line of defense. But that didn’t work for Ashes.

“Then we tried an oral medication and that didn’t do well enough,” said Castellano. “And then ultimately we went to insulin and that did the trick.”

Castellano gives Ashes insulin injections two times a day, which can be costly.

“It is absolutely worth it,” she said. “This is a wonderful cat. He is a wonderful companion for me.”

Diabetes most commonly occurs in middle-age to older dogs and cats. It can be managed successfully with insulin therapy and attention to diet and exercise.

Be sure to contact your veterinarian if you notice changes in your pet.

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