Diabetes In Dogs

Early Symptoms Of Diabetes In Dogs; Things You Need To Know Leave a comment

Dogs are loyal creatures. Every dog owner wants to see his/her dog enjoying good health and staying active. There are many health-related conditions that affect the overall performance of your beloved canine friend.

Diabetes is one of the potentially dangerous medical conditions that badly interfere with the normal lifestyle and well-being of your dog. Many pet owners ask about the “early symptoms of diabetes in dogs” and all other related facts.

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In this article, we are going to discuss diabetes in dogs under the light of scientific literature and general field experience.

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What Is Canine Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that arises due to the dysfunction of the pancreas. Broadly, there are two types of diabetes i-e diabetes type 1 and diabetes type 2.  In simple words, diabetes occurs when the body can’t process the glucose due to the absence of a sufficient amount of insulin (A protein hormone that helps in the effective utilization of glucose by the body cells) as in type-1 diabetes.

Or the body doesn’t respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas (type-2 diabetes). In both cases, a higher concentration of glucose accumulates in the dog’s body that causes hyperglycemia.  

This is important to keep in mind that insulin-dependent (type-1 diabetes) is more common in dogs.

Can Diabetes Occur In Dogs Of Any Age?

Yes, diabetes can occur in dogs of any age. But the older dogs are at higher risk to get diabetes as compared to young ones. In addition, female dogs are more prone to develop diabetes as compared to male dogs.  Generally, diabetes can occur in dogs between the ages of 4-14 years.


What Are Early Symptoms Of Diabetes In Dogs?

This is important to note that early diagnosis of diabetes guarantees early and better management and prevents your dog from severe complications. Here, we have summarized a few important key early symptoms of diabetes:

  1. Abrupt weight loss with increased or decreased appetite.
  2. Increased urination frequency
  3. Increased thirst
  4. Cloudy eyes can be observed with diabetic dog
  5. Dullness
  6. Recurring skin infections can be observed in dogs too

Note: In advanced cases, vomiting and depression can also be observed in dogs. These symptoms may vary from dog to dog. Also keep in mind that, female dogs can usually develop temporary insulin resistance diabetes during heat or pregnancy (gestational diabetes).

How Diabetes Affects Your Dog’s Health?

Uncontrolled diabetes or poor management of diabetes in dogs can lead to the worst health-associated complications in dogs such as

  1. Kidney failure
  2. Liver enlargement
  3. Seizure
  4. Ketoacidosis
  5. Cataracts
  6. Liver enlargement

Note: There are two basic forms of diabetes, complicated or uncomplicated. Complicated diabetes occurs with the severe symptoms of Ketoacidosis and can make become life-threatening for your dog.

What Are Important Factors Which Cause Diabetes In Dogs?

Diabetes in dogs is associated with multiple factors; here we have summarized a few important key factors which predispose to diabetes in dogs.

  1. Gender – diabetes occurs more frequently in unspayed female dogs as compared to make dogs
  2. Long term use of steroid medications- These medications can also cause diabetes in dogs.
  3. Obesity- This is a major factor that predisposes dog to diabetes. Remember, obesity causes insulin resistance in the dog’s body and also lead to pancreatitis.
  4. Genetics- some breeds of dogs are at higher risk to get diabetes. For instance, Pugs, Puli, Poodles, Fox Terriers, Golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, German shepherd, Beagles, Keeshonds and Cairn terriers.
  5. The other important factors include autoimmune diseases, viral infections, metabolic syndrome –Cushing diseases etc.

How Diabetes Can Be Diagnosed In Dogs?

As mentioned earlier, early diagnosis of diabetes is essential for the overall health of your dog.

  1. Diagnosis can be made based upon the clinical signs and symptoms
  2. Blood glucose test
  3. Ketone body test
  4. Urine test (to detect the presence of glucose in the urine)
  5. Overall fitness test of your dog (As recommended by your vet).

How Diabetes Can Be Managed In Dogs?

There are many ways to manage diabetes in dogs. Diet plays an important role in the management of diabetes in dogs.

  1. Always check the glycemic index of the diet/pet food before giving it to your dog. Choose diets of low glycemic index for your dog.
  2. Try avoiding sugary treats for your dog.
  3. Exercise is also crucial to managing diabetes. Schedule an exercise plan for your dog.
  4. This is better to include high fiber foods in your dog’s diet plan.
  5. Spaying should be considered in female dogs.
  6. Maintain proper feeding and insulin schedule as per the suggestion of your vet.
  7. Regularly monitor the blood/urine glucose levels.
  8. Divide the diet of your dog into well-defined portions. You can take help from a registered pet nutritionist in this regard.

How Can You Differentiate Between Diabetes Mellitus And Diabetes Insipidus In Dogs?

Generally, we call diabetes mellitus diabetes in dogs. This is very common diabetes in dogs. However, diabetes insipidus is a rare condition that is not associated with the pancreas/blood glucose levels.

Diabetes insipidus occurs due to the under secretion of Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) that is involved in the absorption of water from the collecting ducts of kidneys. The lack of this hormone causes the production of diluted urine in a larger volume.

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Diabetes is a life-threatening medical condition in dogs.  This can occur in dogs of any age, however, senior/older dogs are at higher risk to develop diabetes. The early signs of diabetes include excessive thirst, Polyuria (excessive urination), weight loss, increased/decreased pattern of appetite along recurring skin infections.

With better management and care, diabetes can be managed in dogs and they can enjoy a healthy and longer life. This is important to keep eye on the diet of your dog along with other signs and symptoms. In case of any complications, contact your vet immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can diabetes lower immunity in dogs?

Yes, diabetes causes immunity suppression in dogs. This is why; dogs can be easily targeted by many other diseases.

Is diabetes a genetic disease?

Yes, diabetes can occur due to genetic reasons. It runs from generation to generation.

Can diabetes occur in young pups?

Yes, diabetes can occur in young pups. However, older dogs are at higher risk.

Can diabetes cause blindness in dogs?

Yes, diabetes can lead to permanent blindness in dogs.

Can diabetes lead to overweight dog?

Yes, diabetes can make your dog overweight as well.


Nelson, R.W. and Reusch, C.E., 2014. Animal models of disease: classification and etiology of diabetes in dogs and cats. Journal of Endocrinology222(3), pp.T1-T9.

Soon-Shiong, P., Feldman, E., Nelson, R., Komtebedde, J., Smidsrod, O., Skjak-Braek, G., Espevik, T., Heintz, R. and Lee, M., 1992. Successful reversal of spontaneous diabetes in dogs by intraperitoneal microencapsulated islets. Transplantation54(5), pp.769-774.

Catchpole, B., Ristic, J.M., Fleeman, L.M. and Davison, L.J., 2005. Canine diabetes mellitus: can old dogs teach us new tricks?. Diabetologia48(10), pp.1948-1956.

Gonder-Frederick, L.A., Grabman, J.H. and Shepard, J.A., 2017. Diabetes Alert Dogs (DADs): An assessment of accuracy and implications. Diabetes research and clinical practice134, pp.121-130.

Gabr, M.M., Zakaria, M.M., Refaie, A.F., Ismail, A.M., Khater, S.M., Ashamallah, S.A., Azzam, M.M. and Ghoneim, M.A., 2018. Insulin-producing cells from adult human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells could control chemically induced diabetes in dogs: a preliminary study. Cell transplantation27(6), pp.937-947.

Alejandro, R., Cutfield, R., Shienvold, F.L., Latif, Z. and Mintz, D.H., 1985. Successful long-term survival of pancreatic islet allografts in spontaneous or pancreatectomy-induced diabetes in dogs: cyclosporine-induced immune unresponsiveness. Diabetes34(8), pp.825-828.

Siegel, A.P., Daneshkhah, A., Hardin, D.S., Shrestha, S., Varahramyan, K. and Agarwal, M., 2017. Analyzing breath samples of hypoglycemic events in type 1 diabetes patients: towards developing an alternative to diabetes alert dogs. Journal of breath research11(2), p.026007.

Hess, R.S., Saunders, H.M., Winkle, T.J.V. and Ward, C.R., 2000. Concurrent disorders in dogs with diabetes mellitus: 221 cases (1993–1998). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association217(8), pp.1166-1173.

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