Pet Parenting

Canine Diabetes

Know the risks, signs, and management protocols of canine diabetes.

tired beagle

Article Highlights

  • Type 1 diabetes, which is an insulin deficiency, is more common in dogs than type 2.

  • Dogs with diabetes are at risk for many health complications such as cataracts, kidney failure, seizures, and ketoacidosis.

  • Insulin therapy and healthy weight loss can help manage canine diabetes.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are too high due to an insulin deficiency or resistance. Type 1 diabetes is an insulin deficiency, meaning the body does not properly produce insulin, and type 2 is an insulin resistance. Type 1 diabetes is much more common in dogs than type 2. Obesity plays a large role in the development of type 2 diabetes, but type 1, unfortunately, has fewer preventable risk factors.

The exact cause of diabetes is difficult to pinpoint because researchers believe it to be a multifactorial disease. There are certain characteristics, such as genetics, gender, breed, and current health issues that may increase a dog’s risk for diabetes.

Breeds that are more commonly diagnosed with diabetes are Australian terriers, Beagles, Bichon Frises, Cairn terriers, Daschunds, Fox terriers, German shepherds, Golden retrievers, Poodles, Pugs, Samoyeds, and Schnauzers. Female dogs are also more likely to be diabetic than male dogs. Existing health conditions such as obesity, steroids, pancreatitis, and Cushing’s disease may also increase a dog’s risk of developing diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes

Common symptoms of canine diabetes are excessive drinking, hunger, and urinating. More subtle signs may include weakness or a reduction of energy levels and recurring infections. If you notice these signs in your dog, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian soon. When diabetes is undiagnosed and no treatment plans are made, it can lead to many health complications for your dog including cataracts, enlarged liver, neurological problems, recurring infections, seizures, kidney failure, and ketoacidosis.

Treatment of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is a relatively permanent disease, but there are remedies to manage it. Once your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian may recommend a combination of insulin treatment, diet, and exercise. Your veterinarian will teach you how to inject the insulin. This will become a part of your dog’s daily routine, and they will hardly be able to feel it. Time the daily, or sometimes twice daily, injections at a consistent time every day, and reward your dog afterward with playtime or a belly rub. Your veterinarian may also recommend changes to your dog’s diet and exercise routine to help them maintain a healthy weight.

If you notice your dog showing any signs of diabetes, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to have their blood and urine tested. With the advice and guidance of your veterinarian, your pet’s diabetes, in many instances, can be managed.