Dog Diabetes – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

by Reena Bakir
dog diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease suffered by many animals including dogs and cats, and is mainly characterised by the lack of the hormone insulin or an insufficient response to insulin. Dog diabetes, which occurs in two types, cannot be entirely cured. However, it can be treated in a manner to make it easily manageable.

It’s important to be aware of the nature of dog diabetes, it’s symptoms and causes in order to keep your dog healthy and give them the appropriate treatment and care.

What is Dog Diabetes

Canine diabetes often occurs in two different forms in dogs:

  • Insulin-Deficiency Diabetes:  This is the most common type of canine diabetes, and occurs when a dog’s body cannot produce enough insulin due to a damaged pancreas.
  • Insulin-Resistant Diabetes:  This type of diabetes often occurs in obese or older dogs. This disease happens when a dog’s pancreas is producing insulin, yet it is not being utilized by the body as it should.

Any type of dog is prone to being affected by this disease, yet certain breeds can have an increased risk such as: Dachshunds, Poodles, Springer Spaniels and Cairn Terriers. It is also thought that female dogs and obese dogs can also be more at risk of getting this disease, with 70% of the dogs with diabetes being female.

dog diabetes


Whether a dog has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, the negative effects on the health are often the same. Diabetes deprives the body’s cells of the vital fuels it needs to function. Muscle cells and organ cells are deprived of the glucose required to produce energy, therefore the body begins to break down its own fats to use as an alternative source for this energy. Moreover, without the presence of insulin to break down the glucose into energy, the high percentage of glucose builds up in the bloodstream and causes damage to many organs.

Diabetes can also have other threatening effects on the body, most of which last on a long-term basis. This can include cataracts in the eyes, which leads to blindness, as well as the increased occurrence of seizures. It also affects the body organs and can lead to kidney failure and enlarged liver.


While there is no direct cause leading to the development of diabetes, it is often as a result of many different factors. Including:

  • Age: Most cases of diabetes occur in middle-aged dogs to senior dogs.
  • Gender: Unspayed females are believed to be more prone to developing diabetes
  • Weight: Obesity in dogs contributes to insulin resistance and can lead to diabetes
  • Chronic or Repeated Pancreatitis: This condition which entails inflammation of the pancreas can eventually cause extensive damage to the pancreas, resulting in diabetes
  • Other health conditions/diseases: Other viral or autoimmune diseases can also result in diabetes.


The symptoms of dog diabetes may include:

  • Change in appetite
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Urinary Tract Infection
  • Vomiting
  • Blindness due to cataract formation on eyes
  • Lethargy
  • Weight Loss


dog diabetes

While diabetes cannot be entirely cured, there is an array of treatments to help make the process of living with diabetes much easier and ease your dog into coping with it.

The most common type of treatment for dogs with Diabetes is injections, as more diabetic dogs need a daily injection of insulin to make up for their body’s lack of production. The injection is usually given under the skin.

Another treatment is a change in diet, as a diabetic dog cannot have the same diet as a healthy one. This often includes a high amount of protein and fibres, as well as complex carbohydrates to allow for the body’s absorption of glucose.


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