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Diabetes in Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Diabetes in Dogs

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Did you know that there are very few diseases that can be exclusively diagnosed in humans? In fact, dogs are susceptible to many diseases that are quite common among us.

Some of these diseases can affect any dog regardless of factors such as sex, age or breed, whereas others may be seen more frequently as our dog gets older. This is the case of diabetes, a disease that affects the metabolism and endocrine system and can require chronic treatment.

Because of the importance that this condition may have for the health of our pets, in this AnimalWised article we speak at length about diabetes in dogs and its symptoms, specific care and control.

You may also be interested in: Diabetes in Cats


  1. What is diabetes?
  2. Symptoms of diabetes in dogs
  3. Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in dogs
  4. Monitoring diabetes in dogs
  5. Warning signs in diabetic dogs

What is diabetes?

Dogs, like us, get the energy they need for vital functions from food: as an energy source they primarily use glucose, a nutrient that is obtained from metabolizing carbohydrates. For glucose to be used as energy it needs to pass from the bloodstream into the cells, which is achieved thanks to the action of a hormone called insulin, which is synthesized in the pancreas.

Diabetes melitus or DM is a condition in which glucose cannot be turned into energy. There are two types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 DM is when the pancreas is damaged and unable to synthesize enough insulin, and therefore turn glucose into energy. The exact cause of this type of diabetes is not known, but it is suspected to be an autoimmune disease.

  • Type 2 DM is related to advanced age, obesity and sedentary habits, and it is when the cells develop a resistance to insulin. Over time, type 2 DM can also result in the pancreas not producing enough insulin, as in type 1.

Faced with a deficiency of insulin, glucose cannot be used as an energy source by the cells. This translates into a deterioration of the organism and loss of vitality: it is clinically manifested by very high levels of blood sugar, a situation that if sustained over time can lead to serious risks for our pet.

Diabetes in Dogs - What is diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs

As is the case with many other diseases, observing our pet it is essential to detect as early as possible any sign that tells us that its health is suffering some damage. The symptoms of diabetes in dogs are those typical of hyperglycemia, a situation characterized by high levels of blood sugar:

  • Frequent urination
  • Frequent drinking
  • Greater appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy

These symptoms are typical of a dog with diabetes, and interestingly, of a person with type 1 diabetes. If you observe any of these signs in your pet, you must go to the vet urgently.

Diabetes in Dogs - Symptoms of diabetes in dogs

Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in dogs

To diagnose diabetes, the veterinarian will take into account the patient's complete medical history and the symptoms manifested. However, to verify the presence of this disease they will carry out a blood test and a urine test to determine glucose levels in both fluids.

If the diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed, the veterinarian will tell you how to perform the treatment. Caring for a diabetic dog involves pharmacological treatment, but also certain lifestyle changes and constant monitoring. Dogs with diabetes are treated as follows:

  • Insulin: The dog will need subcutaneous insulin injections to properly metabolize carbohydrates. The application of insulin is simple and done comfortably from home. Since we cannot predict how much food our dog will eat, the insulin is usually applied after your pet has eaten.
  • Diet: The veterinarian will tell you what food is best suited for treating a diabetic dog, but generally it will be fiber and complex carbohydrate rich foods, as they are absorbed gradually and do not abruptly alter glucose levels in the blood.
  • Physical exercise: A diabetic dog needs daily exercise to promote the passage of glucose from the bloodstream into the cells.
  • For female dogs, veterinarian may recommend sterilization in order to improve control of the disease.

It can be difficult at first to supply your dog with a full treatment for diabetes, but these measures must be used chronically - that is, for the rest of the dog's life. In a short time, both the owner and the dog will become accustomed to the new routine that living with this disease entails.

Diabetes in Dogs - Diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in dogs

Monitoring diabetes in dogs

The treatment of diabetes in dogs will allow your pet to enjoy a better quality of life, as it will help maintain stable blood sugar levels and control the symptoms derived from hyperglycemia.

Keeping glucose levels stable also helps prevent all the complications that can arise from diabetes, such as kidney failure, nerve impairment, blindness or diabetic ketoacidosis, a metabolic disorder that can endanger the life of the animal.

Your dog's insulin requirements may vary depending on its appetite, physical activity levels and even changes that may occur naturally in its physiology. Therefore, a diabetic dog should undergo periodic check ups. Your veterinarian will tell you how often your dog needs to go to the clinic to evaluate the treatment and control of diabetes.

Diabetes in Dogs - Monitoring diabetes in dogs

Warning signs in diabetic dogs

If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes and you observe some of the following signs, you should urgently go to the vet because they indicate a serious imbalance:

  • Excessive thirst for more than 3 days
  • Excessive urination for more than 3 days
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Muscle twitches
  • Decreased appetite
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Anxiety
  • Signs of pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Diabetes in Dogs - Warning signs in diabetic dogs

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Diabetes in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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Diabetes in Dogs