Diabetes in dogs is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin, or an inadequate response to Insulin.

After a dog eats, his digestive system breaks food into various components including glucose, which is carried into his cells by Insulin,a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When a dog does not produce insulin or cannot utilise it properly,his blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which,when left untreated can cause many complicated health problems for a dog.

It is important to understand, however, that diabetes is considered a manageable disorder , and many dogs can lead a happy, healthy life.

what type of diabetes can a dog get ?

Diabetes  can be classified as either TYPE 1 ( lack of insulin production) or TYPE 2  (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone).

The most common form of the disease in dogs is type 1, insulin-dependent  diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas is incapable of produce or secreting adequate levels of insulin.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs ?

The following symptoms should be investigated as they could be indicators that your dog has diabetes 

* change in appetite

*excessive thirst/ increase in water consumption

*weight loss

*increased urination

*unusually sweet or fruity smelling breath



*urinary tract infections


*cataract formation, blindness

*chronic skin infections.

What causes diabetes in dogs?

The exact cause is unknown. However autoimmune disease, genetics, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can play a major role in the development of the disease. 

Which dogs are prone to the disease ?

It is thought that obese dogs and female dogs may run the risk of developing the disease later in life (6-9 years). Some breeds may also beat risk including Australian Terriers, standard and miniature Schnauzer's, Dachshund's, poodles, and Samoyed's. Juvenile diabetes can also be seen and be especially prevalent in Golden retriever's. 

How is diabetes diagnosed ?

In order to diagnose diabetes your vet will collect information about your dog's clinical signs, perform a physical examination and check blood work and urinalysis.

How is Diabetes treated ?

Diabetes treatment is based on how severe the symptoms and lab work are, and whether there are any other health issues that could complicate therapy. Each dog will respond a little bit differently to treatment , and therapy must be tailored to each individual dog throughout their life.

* some dogs may be seriously ill when first diagnosed and will require several days intensive hospital care to regulate the blood sugar level.

* dogs who are more stable when first diagnosed may respond to oral medication or a high-fibre diet that helps to normalise glucose levels in the blood.

* for most dog's, insulin injections are necessary for adequate regulation of blood glucose. Once your pet's individual insulin treatment is established , typically based on weight, you'll be shown how to give injections once at home. 

* spaying your dog is recommended, as female sex hormones can have an effect on blood sugar levels. 

Your vet may also show you how to perform glucose tests at home.

What should I know about treating my diabetic dog at home ?

As your vet will explain, it's important to always give your dog insulin at the same time every day and feed him/her regular meals in conjunction with it's medication. This allows increased nutrients in the blood to coincide with peak insulin levels, and will lessen the chance that his /her sugar levels will swing either too high or too low. You can work with your vet to create a feeding schedule around your pet's medication time. It is also important to NOT feed your dog treats high in glucose. Regular blood glucose checks are a critical part of monitoring and treating any diabetic patient, and your vet will help set a schedule for checking blood sugar levels. 

Please also consult your vet about a consistent daily exercise plan and proper nutrition for your dog to keep your dogs weight in check.

How can diabetes be prevented ?

Although a certain form of diabetes - the type found in dogs less than a year in age, is in inherited, proper diet and regular exercise can be very effective in helping to prevent onset of diabetes in older dogs. Aside from other negative health effects, obesity is known to contribute to to an ability to respond normally to insulin.

What should you do if you think your dog has diabetes ?

If your dog is showing signs of any of the listed above please consult your vet right away.

What can happen if diabetes goes untreated ?

If diabetes progresses with out treatment dogs can develop secondary health problems such as cataracts and severe urinary tract problems. Ultimately untreated diabetes can cause a coma and death. 

Notes are with thanks from pets.webmd.com


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