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Diabetes In Dogs [Warning Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention]

Updated by Sheryl on Oct 22, 2021

Diabetes mellitus is a common disease in humans, but did you know that it can also affect dogs? It is possible that your dog has diabetes too. The good news, however, is that if you've just found that your dog has diabetes, you'll be able to help them live a happy and healthy life.

  • What Is Diabetes in Dogs
  • Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
  • What Dog Is Prone to Diabetes
  • Diagnosis And Treatment
  • Prevention, Glucose Monitor for Dogs
  • You May Also Ask

In dogs, diabetes is an endocrine (hormonal) disease that mainly affects middle and older-years dogs. Insulin is required for glucose (sugar) to enter the circulation and be transported to cells throughout the body,  which helps cells to flourish and develop.

As a result, diabetic dogs have blood sugar levels out of control, referred to as hyperglycemia. Many dogs can manage this for a time, but they can get very ill if they become sick with anything else, such as a urinary infection. Furthermore, diabetic animals are far more likely to have additional health issues.


Diabetes affects dogs of all breeds and is a severe condition, it's essential to understand the signs of canine diabetes so you can be alert to them if your dog suffers it. When a dog has diabetes, they will often show the following signs:

  • An Increased Desire To Eat: Due to the lack of glucose energy in the canine body, the body must utilize alternative energy sources, including fat and protein. Additionally, their cells experience a "starvation" condition and increase their hunger.
  • Weakness or Sluggishness: Glucose is required for the correct operation of cells. Having diabetes means the body can't utilize sugar as an energy source. In the absence of such energy, dogs will be sluggish, lethargic, and need to sleep more than expected.
  • Increased Urination And Thirst: When your dog's blood sugar is too high, his kidneys have to work extra hard to release the extra glucose in his urine. Because of this, your dog will urinate and drink a lot more than usual.
  • Cataracts: Cataracts are common in dogs that have diabetes or are at risk of developing them. Whenever you look into your dog's eyes, you see a cloudy or hazy appearance due to a cataract in the lens of the eye. 80% of diabetic dogs will acquire cataracts within the first year after being diagnosed. Cataracts can impair eyesight and even trigger glaucoma.
a pug dog

The initial signs of diabetes in dogs can be so minor that you cannot notice anything wrong with them. But until ketoacidosis occurs, dogs may seem healthy while having more apparent symptoms. Ketoacidosis signs and symptoms include:

  • lethargy
  • anorexia
  • vomiting
  • dehydration

It's critical to catch problems early before ketoacidosis sets in since it's more difficult to cure, and some dogs will die even after treatment.

Even though all dogs are at risk, certain diseases and breeds are more prone to the development of diabetes than others.

  • 1. Breed: According to a 2003 Veterinary Journal research, mixed-breed dogs are more likely than purebreds to develop diabetes. There was considerable variation in the vulnerability of different breeds among purebred dogs. Some dog breeds are more prone to diabetes than others. Here are some examples:
    • Dachshunds
    • Pomeranians
    • Bichons Frises
    • Pugs
    • Poodles
    • Samoyeds
    • German Shepherds
    • Beagles
    • Terriers
    • Miniature Schnauzers
dog with detector
  • 2. Age: There is no specific age range for the onset of diabetes in canines. Diabetic dogs often range in age from 4 to 14 years, with the majority being diagnosed between the ages of 7 and 10.
  • 3. Gender: Female dogs are more prone than males to develop diabetes. However, men (especially neutered males) are also susceptible to diabetes.

Moreover, dogs with chronic or severe pancreatitis, typically caused by a high-fat diet, can get diabetes and obesity. Therefore, dogs must maintain a balanced diet and appropriate body weight for canines health. Besides, schedule frequent vet visits, stay away from table scraps and sugary treats, and ensure your dog receives the exercise he requires.

Diagnosing diabetes requires just a few basic diagnostic tests. Your vet will test your dog for electrolytes and liver enzymes. In addition to electrolyte abnormalities and elevated liver enzymes, a blood test can reveal diabetes. And a urine sample test is used to determine the amount of glucose in a dog's bloodstream and urine. Once your pet's diagnosis has been verified, your veterinarian will prescribe an initial dosage and type of insulin for them.

dog with glucose detector

Diabetic Dog Treatment

In most cases, treatment includes these elements and has the following objectives:

  • Insulin:

    In some instances, your dog may need insulin shots daily. Initial testing by a veterinarian, which enables them to monitor blood glucose levels throughout the day, will determine how often a dog needs injections.

    While your veterinarian may suggest a different time for the injection, it is generally advised that the dose be given immediately after meals. It helps to suggest the dosage depending on how much your dog ate that day.

  • Exercise:

    Diabetic dogs must keep up a regular yet modest activity schedule to prevent dangerous spikes and decreases in blood glucose levels.

  • Lose Weight:

    Provide weight loss assistance if required for your dog. Shedding a few pounds can help a dog's cells become more responsive to insulin, making glucose absorption more straightforward.

  • A Diabetes-Friendly Diet:

    To help stabilize blood sugar levels, consider the best food for diabetic dogs, rich in quality protein (not necessarily "high protein" diets), reduced fat content, and a combination of fiber and complex carbs. Finding the proper dog diabetes diet takes trial and error to observe how their bodies react to different options for insulin.

sad dog

What Human Food Can I Feed My Dog with diabetes?

Some people think it's okay for dogs to eat anything, even human food, but that's not always the case. Diabetic dogs can safely consume the following human foods without experiencing an increase in blood sugar levels.

  • Winter Squash
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Triticale
  • Beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Salad Greens
  • Pea Pods
  • Oatmeal or whole oats
  • Buckwheat

The best diabetes treatment is prevention. In reality, the most effective preventive methods are pretty similar to the therapy alternatives above.

  • Give your dog a balanced diet. Diabetes can be prevented in dogs with a well-balanced diet.
  • Keep an eye on how active your dog is to avoid him becoming overweight. The risk of diabetes increases in overweight dogs, so maintaining your pet at a healthy weight can help prevent this and other illnesses associated with obesity.
  • Take your dog to the vet regularly to ensure everything is in order. Your veterinarian is the best person to assist, educate you, and offer methods for maintaining your dog in the best possible health.
  • Regularly monitor your dog's glucose levels, which can be very helpful. You can detect ketones by using urine dipsticks. However, be aware that a diabetic dog's urine will almost definitely include some glucose at certain times of the day, but it is still an effective way to monitor your dog's health.
depressed dog
How Long Do Dogs Live after Being Diagnosed with Diabetes?
Dogs with diabetes that are treated and monitored regularly have an excellent prognosis. Most diabetic dogs have a long and healthy life with just a few side effects when their condition is well-controlled. Even yet, diabetes can be complex, and many underlying illnesses go undiagnosed or untreated in dogs with diabetes who may live a short life.
What Happens If Diabetes Is Left Untreated in Dogs?
"Diabetic ketoacidosis" is a far more dangerous disease that can develop if diabetes is not treated. Leaving the untreated illness increases the risk of cataracts, neuropathy (a weakening of the legs), starvation, ketoacidosis, dehydration, and mortality.
Can A Dog Recover from Diabetes?
Even while diabetes cannot be cured, it can be effectively controlled with medication, dietary changes, and regular exercise. Maintaining an appropriate blood glucose level while avoiding hypoglycemia and the symptoms it causes is the aim of diabetes management. Diabetes symptoms like increased thirst and urination can be reduced or even eliminated with proper treatment.
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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