(for veterinary information only)
BRAND NAME: GLUCOTROL
Diabetes mellitus is an enormous problem in human medicine. There are hundreds of thousands of human diabetics who require treatment and there are research labs all over the world seeking ways to make life easier for the diabetic patient. This research spills over into veterinary medicine and can be helpful to our animal patients.
Human diabetic patients are classified as Type I (completely unable to produce any insulin) and Type II (unable to produce enough insulin). Type I patients do not respond to oral treatments to reduce blood sugar; they require insulin injections whereas Type II patients may be able to respond to oral medications provided their pancreas has some remaining insulin-producing capacity. While it is not difficult to classify human patients, this is not so straightforward for animals. Diabetic dogs, for example are completely insulin dependent (analogous to Type I) and have no response to treatments other than insulin injections. Some cats, but not most, appear to fit into a feline version of the Type II category, meaning some diabetic cats (perhaps as many as 30%) can actually make do with oral medications.
These oral medications work by causing the pancreas to release insulin more effectively (obviously if there is no insulin to release, this does not help). They also help increase tissue sensitivity so that smaller doses of insulin may have a greater effect. Some cats will respond adequately to this treatment and thus avoid the use of insulin injections at home. There is no way to predict whether an individual cat will be one of these cats without trying the medication and seeing what happens
HOW THIS MEDICATION IS USED
Glipizide is an oral medication commonly scripted out to a human pharmacy. It is given twice a day. Since it will not be known if a cat will respond, monitoring for the first month or so is very important. We recommend weekly blood sugar levels which will help us determine the dose of glipizide. Some cats will be partial responders and this partial response may or may not be adequate to control their diabetes. Some cats will respond at first but ultimately require insulin later on.
During treatment with glipizide, it is important for the cat to eat a low carbohydrate diet. This kind of dietary management is also helpful in treating diabetes mellitus and will help maximize the medication's effect.
Glipizide is not effective for diabetic dogs.
INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER DRUGS
CONCERNS AND CAUTIONS
Pre-existing liver or kidney disease will predispose the patient to hypoglycemic reactions.
If ketones are discovered in the patient’s urine, this is an indication that oral hypoglycemic treatments will not be useful. Only insulin can stop ketonuria.
To Return to the Diabetes Information Center appropriate for your pet, click the appropriate link below.
Page last updated: 2/2/2022