Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

No one wants to think about their pet getting sick with a chronic illness, but diabetes is a medical condition that also affects dogs. It's vital to know the signs and symptoms of canine diabetes. Although there's no cure, your dog can lead a happy and healthy life with the proper care.

What Is Canine Diabetes?

Diabetes in dogs is the same as it is for people. There are two types. Veterinarians use the terms insulin deficiency and insulin-resistant diabetes. The first is the most common and occurs when the body isn't producing enough insulin. It can happen from a damaged or malfunctioning pancreas.

Insulin-resistance diabetes is when the body's not managing insulin properly. The American Kennel Club describes it as cells not responding to the message sent by the insulin, which results in glucose not being pulled out of the blood and put into the cells. Insulin-resistant diabetes is caused by obesity in dogs. 

Conditions and situations that increase your dog's risk for diabetes include,

  • Obesity
  • Gender (Unspayed female canines have a higher risk)
  • Age
  • Chronic pancreatitis 
  • Cushing's disease
  • Steroid medications
  • Genetics

Early Signs of Diabetes in Dogs

The signs and symptoms of canine diabetes are straightforward. Pet owners often notice excessive thirst, increased urination, including more demands to go outside, and accidents around the house. These early signs of diabetes in dogs occur because the body is expelling excess sugar through the urine.

Another sign owners notice is unexpected weight loss. When your dog isn't converting nutrients from their food, they can lose weight. Also, despite eating the same amount of food daily, they'll have an increased appetite to go with the excessive thirst. 

Advanced signs are more noticeable and are a threat to your dog's health and quality of life. These can include,

  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Depressed attitude

If you notice any of these abnormal signs, schedule an appointment with their veterinarian as soon as possible.

Complications of Diabetes in Dogs

Complications occur most often with uncontrolled diabetes. These can cause permanent damage and severely impact life quality and reduce longevity. The most typical complications are

  • Enlarged liver
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Cataracts (Leads to blindness)
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures

Another issue that can be life-threatening is ketoacidosis. Signs of the acute condition include,

  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting

Several possible causes of ketoacidosis are stress, infections, and other health conditions combined with low insulin levels. 

Diabetes in Puppy Symptoms 

Diabetes is uncommon in puppies. It's diagnosed more often in middle-aged and older dogs that are less active. Most canines develop insulin deficiency diabetes. However, Insulin-resistant diabetes is increasing as more pups are obese.

Keep your puppy at a healthy weight with nutritious meals and plenty of exercise to reduce the chances of developing diabetes.

Treating Dog Diabetes

Treating the signs and symptoms of canine diabetes requires a change in diet, lifestyle, and daily insulin injections for some dogs. If your pup has an insulin deficiency, they will need an insulin shot every day to maintain healthy levels. Dogs with insulin resistance don't need daily injections. Instead, the most important treatment is diet and exercise.

Your vet will help you learn the best way to give the injections to your dog. They might provide a daily glucose-monitoring system and teach you how to take readings. Additionally, the vet will explain the different warning signs that require you to seek immediate medical care.

Dogs with both types of diabetes need to eat a nutritious diet and maintain a healthy weight. Your pet's veterinarian will prescribe a hard and soft food specially formulated for dogs with diabetes. It's essential to measure out the exact serving daily. Sticking with the right food portions can help manage your pet's weight.

No matter what your pup's age, exercising every day is a vital part of their treatment. Consider taking daily walks when the weather's good. This final step is an excellent wellness idea for you and your diabetic dog. 


Pets with diabetes can lead a long and healthy life with lifestyle changes and the proper care. Diabetes is no different than other chronic conditions. It requires meticulous management, regular vet visits, nutritious meals, and daily exercise.

These steps may sound complicated. However, once you get into the habit of serving healthy meals and snacks and including more fitness in your dog's routine, you'll find it's not as challenging to follow.

How can you tell if a dog is diabetic?

Pet owners need to know the early signs of diabetes in dogs. If you notice your dog is drinking or urinating more than usual or has lost weight unexpectedly, schedule an appointment with their vet as soon as possible. You may also notice they're hungrier than expected, despite no changes in their diet or fitness level. Watching for these symptoms can help get your pup's diabetes under control and reduce the chances of complications and permanent damages.

What to do if dog has diabetes?

If you notice the signs and symptoms of canine diabetes, you need to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. The key to a positive outcome is early detection and treatment. Your veterinarian will complete a physical exam and take blood and urine samples to check for diabetes. Don't panic if they're diagnosed with diabetes. The veterinary office will provide the support you need and help you manage your dog's diabetes. With the right plan, which can include insulin injections, regular blood-sugar level monitoring, nutritious meals, and daily exercise, your pup will live a long, happy, and healthy life.

Can dogs get diabetes?

Yes. Dogs and cats are as susceptible to diabetes as humans. It's more common in middle-aged and older canines. Diabetes is also typical in obese pets. It's also a treatable condition for dogs. After a diagnosis, your pup's vet will go over all the information you need to know to manage diabetes in dogs, including nutrition tips, prescription foods, and monitoring equipment. To monitor their glucose levels effectively.

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Written by Leo Roux


there is also an A1C diabetes test for dogs now from Baycom

gustav ray on May 25, 2021

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