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Help find a cure for

Canine Diabetes
If your dog has diabetes enroll them in our new research study, to help understand the causes of canine diabetes
What's Involved
Disease Education
Clinical Team
Diabetes mellitus is an important health problem in both dogs and people. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) in people is caused by an attack of the body’s own immune system on cells in the pancreas. Diabetes in dogs is thought to be similar in some ways to T1D in people, but there is still much more to learn about the causes of diabetes in dogs as well as better ways to prevent and treat the disease. The purpose of this study is to learn more about metabolism and immune function in diabetic dogs.
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Inclusion Criteria
Your dog has been recently diagnosed with canine diabetes
  • A diagnosis of Canine Diabetes within the last 4 weeks
  • Adult age (Older than 1 year)
  • Body weight greater than 6.5 lbs (3 kg)
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Exclusion Criteria
Your dog has other endocrine related disease or is a non-spayed female
  • Non-spayed females
  • Current diagnosis of destrus diabetes or hyperadrenocorticism(Cushing's Disease)
  • Weight under 6.5 pounds
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You're willing and able to visit the Gainesville area clinic
Map of clinic where trial is to take place.
What's Involved?
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12 month study
3 Clinic Visits
90 Minute Session
The study consists of 3 visits: a baseline visit, a visit 6 months later, and a visit 12 months later. Your dog will need to be fasted overnight before the study visits. At each visit, we will collect a brief medical history, conduct a brief physical exam, and collect a small sample of blood. Your dog will also have a mixed meal tolerance test, which involves feeding a tasty liquid meal (Ensure Plus) and then drawing several blood samples for 90 minutes after the meal. The blood will be used to test pancreatic function and look for other blood metabolic markers. Blood will also be frozen and banked for future testing. Additionally, we will perform baseline bloodwork (CBC, biochemistry) and collect a urine sample. You will receive the results of the basic bloodwork and urine testing at no charge to you.
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1 local Veterinarian
1 Trial Manager
  • Dr. Allison O’Kell, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Small Animal Internal Medicine)
  • Lana Fagman, MS, Clinical Research Coordinator
For additional questions, please contact
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Free participation
Enrolled pets receive free:
Urine Sample
Repeated Vet Checkups
We will perform baseline bloodwork (CBC, biochemistry) and collect a urine sample, you will receive the results of the basic bloodwork and urine testing at no charge to you. If your dog has a concurrent clinical appointment at the UF Small Animal Hospital, any costs related to that appointment will be the responsibility of the client.
Disease Education
Type: Endocrine/Metabolic

Diabetes mellitus is the most common disorder of the endocrine pancreas in dogs and cats. The incidence in dogs is between 0.3% and 1%, and the incidence in cats is between 0.5% and 1.2%, depending on the study population, and is influenced by geographical location and type of veterinary practice (referral or primary accession).

Diabetes mellitus is a disease of middle aged to older companion animals, with peak prevalence of 7-12 years of age in dogs, and 10 – 13 years in cats. Intact female dogs, and male cats, are predisposed. Various breeds of cat and dog are overrepresented, and predisposed breeds vary with geographic area. For example, in the USA, dog breeds at increased risk include miniature Schnauzer, Samoyed, and miniature poodle, whereas in the UK, in addition to Miniature Schnauzer and Samoyed, breeds more commonly seen include Tibetan, Cairn, Border and Yorkshire Terriers and Labrador retrievers. In cats, Burmese are overrepresented in Australia, New Zealand and UK, and in USA, Maine coon, domestic longhair, Russian Blue and Siamese. Norwegian forest cats are at increased risk in Scandinavia.


In people, the most common forms of diabetes are type 1 (resulting from immune mediated β-cell destruction causing absolute insulin deficiency) and type 2 (characterized by insulin resistance with concomitant β–cell dysfunction). The majority of neutered diabetic dogs have an absolute insulin deficiency that is in some ways similar to type 1 diabetes in people, but this form appears to be very rare in cats. The etiology of diabetes in dogs is multifactorial, and likely involves genetic factors, poorly understood environmental factors, and/or diseases of the exocrine pancreas (eg. pancreatitis), which trigger β-cell injury and inflammation. As in humans, there is a seasonal influence with the incidence peaking in winter. Other factors such as chronic insulin resistance secondary to glucocorticoid administration or obesity, and diseases which antagonize insulin's actions would be expected to hasten onset of clinical signs when superimposed on a reduced capacity to secrete insulin as a result of immune-mediated β-cell destruction.

Diabetes in cats is similar to Type 2 diabetes in people. Insulin resistance is multifactorial and associated with genetic factors, obesity, physical inactivity, male gender, and glucocorticoid steroids.

Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus is based on demonstration of persistently increased blood glucose concentration, and is typically associated with classical clinical signs of excessive drinking and urination. The presence of elevated plasma fructosamine (approximately > 400 umol/L; reference range varies by laboratory) or glycated hemoglobin (A1c) (reference range depends on assay used), in symptomatic pets with hyperglycemia and glucosuria help confirm the diagnosis of diabetes mellitus.
Avoiding pet obesity (especially in cats) and avoiding or limiting exposure to medications that may predispose to diabetes are important preventative factors. Nearly all veterinary patients with diabetes mellitus are managed with a combination of insulin therapy, diet, and weight management. In dogs and cats, insulin therapy is generally administered twice daily for the life of the pet.
Clinical Team
Allison O'Kell

Dr. O’Kell graduated from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 2008. Between 2009 and 2012, she complete a small animal rotating internship followed by a residency in Small Animal Internal Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia at Virginia Tech. She also completed a Master’s degree in Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences during the residency period. In 2012, Dr. O’Kell became board certified as a diplomate in Small Animal Internal Medicine through the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Dr. O’Kell worked as a clinician in both private specialty practice and academic medicine following her residency. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Her research is focused on canine diabetes pathogenesis, with the goal of finding better ways to treat and prevent the disease. She also collaborates with the University of Florida Diabetes Institute to study parallels between diabetes in dogs and people.

Dr. O’Kell has been the primary author on numerous published scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. She is also a reviewer for several journals and is Associate Editor for the journal Topics in Companion Animal Medicine.

Allison O'Kell
What is a clinical trial?

Doctors and scientists take part in many kinds of research studies. Clinical research helps researchers understand how best to treat patients or helps them learn more about a particular condition or disease. There are many different forms of clinical research. One common form is a clinical trial. In a clinical trial, researchers test new drugs, medical devices or treatments.

Clinical trials may seek to discover new drugs, new ways of giving patients approved drugs, new combinations of approved drugs, new surgical techniques, devices, or biological products. Clinical trials are also conducted to test cutting-edge and novel therapies, like studies that involve gene therapy or gene transfer.

What is informed consent?

Informed consent is a process that helps you learn about the research study. After learning about the study, you will be able to ask the researcher or his/her staff questions. You should only agree to take part after you clearly understand the study and feel comfortable. You should take time to talk over your decision with your doctors, family, and friends. If you agree to take part, you will be asked to sign an "informed consent form."

What are my rights as a research participant?
  • You have the right to not take part in a research study.
  • You have the right to drop out at anytime.
  • You have the right to be given new information about the study.
  • You have the right to ask questions at any time and have them answered as soon as possible.
  • You also have the responsibility to stay informed during your participation in a study. You should ask questions about anything you do not understand or simply want to know.
What should I consider before agreeing to have my pet participate?

You may consider having your pet participate in a study because:

  • They may benefit from the best possible treatment or an experimental treatment that would otherwise not be available.
  • The veterinarians and technicians will closely monitor your pet’s progress throughout the trial.
  • You would be helping researchers to improve the treatments for future patients.

You might consider not taking part in a study because:

  • The experimental treatment may not work for your pet, or it could make your condition worse.
  • The experimental treatment may cause side effects that no one anticipated.
  • If the trial is randomized and includes a placebo (an inactive, dummy pill), your pet may not be given the experimental treatment.
  • The amount of testing for efficacy and safety purposes may involve too many trips to the research office and take too much time.

There is no guarantee that a clinical trial will help your pet’s condition, but the results will contribute to knowledge that may make a difference in the future care of patients.

What questions should I ask before signing up for a clinical trial?
  • If my pet is ill, will this research help them?
  • What are the risks?
  • What is involved? What will I have to do?
  • Will I be charged anything or compensated for my participation?
  • How can I end my participation if I change my mind?
  • What will happen when the study is over? Will I be told the results?
  • Is the study controversial?
  • Whom do I contact to express concerns or obtain information?
Will it cost me anything to take part in a research study?

Clinical trials test new drugs, devices, or treatments. In some cases, taking part will not cost you anything. In other studies, the research team may bill you for drugs, devices, and services they provide. The study informed consent form will describe any costs to you in detail. If the information in the consent form is not clear, you should ask the research team to explain any costs before you sign the consent form.

How is my pet protected from injury in a study or a trial?

Your pet is protected first and foremost by being told honestly and without bias what the known and potential risks are for participating in the trial. This information will be submitted to you in a language you will be able to understand. There is an Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirement that every participant in a clinical trial be informed about the possible risks, benefits and available alternatives. All of the information necessary to assist you in determining whether or not your pet should participate in a clinical trial is provided in a document called the "informed consent document." This document informs you of how to let the investigator know if you think your pet is experiencing a problem with the research and what resources are available to help you. You should ask any questions you may have about a clinical trial before signing the informed consent document. Even after you have signed the informed consent document to have your pet participate in a clinical trial, you should always speak to the investigator if you have questions or problems.

How are research subjects protected?

The Institutional Review Board (IRB) protects people and animals in research studies. The IRB includes scientists, non-scientists, and community members. The IRB reviews, approves, and monitors all in which pets take part. This oversight keeps risks to research participants as low as possible. The IRB also keeps track of ongoing studies to make sure they are being done in the right way.

Do research participants get paid?

This varies by study and will be covered in your Informed Consent Document.

After the study is over can I continue to receive the study medication?

Generally, participation ends when the study ends because it might not be safe or effective to continue treatment based on what is known at the time. Sometimes patients can remain on the study drug if they are responding to the new treatment; however, this is the exception rather than the rule.

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