Dogs And Diabetes | Signs To Look For

We all know about diabetes in humans what it is and what it looks like.  What about dogs and diabetes?   Is it the same or does it look different.  How do you know if your dog is at risk for diabetes?

There are key things to watch for in your dog. Indicators that you can keep an eye out for.  Certain dogs are also more at risk than other dogs.

dogs with diabetes
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What is Diabetes

Glucose is what cells use as their primary source of energy.   Our dogs pancreas controls the glucose in the body by hormones that are produced from the pancreas itself.

Beta cells make up 5% of the pancreas and create insulin.  The energy that is created is what our body needs for fuel.

The problem is that glucose can’t actually get into those cells without insulin s help. Insulin is the key to letting the glucose in.

If the glucose can’t get into the body it starts to back up in the blood, too much sugar in the blood will cause something called hypoglycemia.  Let’s break down hypoglycemia = hypo (too much) glyc (sugar) emia (in the blood).

Sometimes your dogs body doesn’t make enough insulin or just doesn’t handle the insulin properly, and this causes diabetes.

Who’s at risk

The research estimates are that 1 in every 200 dogs will develop diabetes.  Just like the growing epidemic we are seeing with human diabetes, dog’s diabetes is also on the rise.

In 2003 Veterinary Journal published a study on thousands of Americans dogs to see if one breed of dog was more likely to become diabetic than another.  The study found that mixed breed dogs are more prone to diabetes than purebred dogs.

When it comes to determining if a dogs age plays a role in diabetes, the answer is yes.  Dogs that are middle-aged and senior dogs are far more likely to be at risk.

Other risk factors that can severely impact your dog’s chances of developing this disease are:

  • Over weight dogs
  • Chronic inflammation of the bowels
  • Cushings Disease
  • Dogs that take steroids long term
  • Virus infections

Female dogs and Male dogs that have been neutered, are also more likely to develop diabetes.  If your dog suffers from pancreatitis, this can also become a contributing factor in your dog becoming diabetic.

Autoimmunity is something that happens in your dog’s body that causes it to attack itself.   When this happens the cells that are responsible for producing insulin in the body’s pancreas get damaged and then causes your dog to
be diabetic.

This autoimmunity can be caused by things like: an infection, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, drugs like
antibiotics, and toxins like heavy metals.

Dogs that have autoimmunity make up half of all dogs that are diabetic.

Types of diabetes

There are 2 different types of diabetes. Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 – Diabetes is caused when you pancreas can’t produce insulin properly.   No glucose can get into the bodies cells to be used for energy.  Dogs generally get Type 1 diabetes.

When this happens it can be very dangerous for your dog and usually requires that they take life long insulin shots to maintain it.

dogs and insulin

Type 2 – In this type of diabetes, the body is producing the right amount of insulin but due to issues like obesity, cushings disease, inflammatory disease.  These are some issues that block the insulin from taking glucose out of the blood.  When this action happens, the pancreas gets exhausted and then stop making any insulin at all.

Dogs are most likely to get Type 1 diabetes, but can develop symptoms like urinary tract infection or a dental infection.

Gestational – Dogs that are pregnant can also develop gestational diabetes, just like women who are pregnant.

Signs to look for and diagnosing

The tough thing with diabetes, is it can be the silent disease and can be easily missed.   A Vet can detect diabetes through a routine blood test.

Signs that you can watch for are in your dog are:

  • weight loss
  • excessive thirst
  • frequent urination
  • hunger
  • vomiting
  • weakness
  • fatigue

If you notice that your dog has some of these signs, you should definitely take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.

They will run the blood glucose test and if it comes back high, then your vet would run additional tests to ensure it is actually diabetes.

Your vet will look at the clinical signs that your dog has been exhibiting, the glucose level in their urine and bloodstream are the 3 criteria s that your vet will be checking for.

A high glucose level in the blood stream doesn’t always mean diabetes, running the test a few more times over many hours to continue to check your dogs glucose level will be necessary.  The reason for continuing to run these test is also to help your vet assess what level of insulin your dog will need and how often they will need to be given it.

dog vet

What does this mean for your dog

When it comes to the treatment for your dog that has just had a diagnosis of diabetes, is getting the right treatment plan in order.  Treating diabetes can be more of a science than anything. It is important to maintain your dogs glucose level to a normal range.

A regular daily routine for your dog is important.  Your dogs dietary needs may need to be changed in order to help with your dogs diabetes.  Giving your dog a high fiber, high protein diet is required as this type of food is lower in sugar and is also much slower to digest.

Feeding your dog twice a day is the recommended food regiment for a dog with diabetes.  You would give your dog their insulin shot before each of these two meals.

To regulate your dogs insulin it will require that you administer an inject of insulin by a needle 2 times per day.  These injections do not cause your dog pain and are injected just under the skin of your dog.  Your dog will hardly feel the needle.

dog happy healthy

There are complications that can arise from diabetes in your dog.  One of the most common complications that your dog can develop is cataracts.  This is when your dog eyes become cloudy and can affect their vision.  Some others issues are kidney disease, hardening of your dogs arteries, and even skin or other infections.

It is difficult when you find out that your dog has any type of disease but your dog can still be a happy dog with a normal life.  With the way modern medicine is today, you can very easily treat your dog from home under your Vet’s supervision.

We all want our dogs to be healthy and happy, but we don’t always get both.  Keeping an accurate record of your dogs symptoms and treatment can go a long way in ensuring that your dog stays healthy.  A dog that is diabetic can certainly have challenges that go with this diagnosis, but overall your dog can still be that dog that lives life to the fullest.

Dogs as we know always look forward and not backwards, unlike humans.  Take a lesson from your dog and continue to move forward with their treatment while still treating them exactly how you treated them before.  You don’t need to act like your dog is glass and will shatter at any moment.   Dogs are not easily broken whether they are diabetic or not.


10 thoughts on “Dogs And Diabetes | Signs To Look For”

  1. It’s interesting how dogs are capable of contracting the same diseases and disorders as people, in this case, diabetes. What’s even more interesting is that risk factors, signs, and symptoms all appear to be somewhat related to people as well, such as being overweight and its relationship to Type II diabetes, as well as excessive thirst and weakness. There’s definitely a close relation here when it comes to both people and dogs contracting diabetes. 

    • Hi Todd,

      Thank you for your comments on my post.  It is very interesting how closely humans and animal diseases are.  I agree they certainly seem to be very similar to us. 

      Whether its the symptoms or the cause, diabetes is just as easy for a dog to get as for a human.  Awareness is the key to trying to protect your dog from diabetes.  Just like humans.


  2. This saddens me that a member of our family gets a diabetes just like us humans. I know that my Shiro loves sweet but I make sure not to give it to him because I do not want to kill him. But that look though, it is so hard to resist. Thank you for sharing the signs. I do not know that if the dog is neutered or spayed, they are more likely to have diabetes, wow. From what you are saying it is just like us we have to watch what we eat. I just want to know what was the cause of type 1 diabetes in dogs though, maybe it’s ganetic like us? Will be sure to look out for the signs. Thank you again for such an informative post.

    • Hi Nuttanee,

      I love that you share your stories about your dog Shiro.  It is good that you try to keep the sweets to a minimum.  The look is the worst! LOL! They sure know how to pull at our heart strings.

      You really seem to understand what being a responsible dog owner consists of.  I am glad that you will be watching for any signs of diabetes in Shiro.

      Thank you for comments on my post.


  3. As pet owners I wonder if this is something that a lot of us don’t even consider looking into.  This never crossed my mind until today.  Now that I think about it, one of my dogs is really overweight.  My wife got her when I was overseas and she said that the dog has actually lost weight since then.  I can’t imagine how big she was at the time!

    I’m going to start regulating my dogs diet more often to make sure they are getting the proper nutrition, it’s so interesting when you realize animals can get the same diseases as humans

    • Hi Ibrahim,

      I really appreciate your comments on my post.  I am glad that you have found new information about dogs and diabetes.  Most people don’t think about their overweight pet. 

      It is a great idea to try to trim down your new dog. Diabetes is something you want to really try to avoid for you and your dog.  Let’s not forget that we as the parents have to administer the shots or pills. NOT much fun.

      Thank your for sharing.


  4. Hi thanks for this informative post.

    Kristin has been diagnosed with Pancreatitis. He was in the hospital for 11 days. 24 hour IV’s. Did not eat for a couple of days. 2 blood and urine samples were taken and they were sent in, then after the 2nd set of tests, I was told that he does not have diabetes. Then he had a 2nd test and they told me he has diabetes. That day, without knowing about the blood and urine test, he was eating some apples. So I don’t know, is it possible it caused his high sugar level?

    • Hello Jordan,

      So sorry to hear about Kristin. Sounds like you have had some tough times health wise with your dog. I don’t really think that eating one apple would cause it to spike that much.  My dog Boo has had pancreatitis a few times in his 15 years.  We were lucky both times to get it calmed down with Metacam and switching to a soft dog food for him.  Since that we have not had an incident since.

      Best of luck to you. Thank your for commenting on my post. I really appreciate it.


  5. Thanks for this post it opened my eyes on one of the facts in human life and in animals. It is only this time that I learned dogs can be prone to diabetes. The signs and symptoms, I have to bear in mind for it is the thing that tells me if my dog has this illness.

    • Hello Abagatan,

      I really appreciate your comments on my post.  I am glad that you found some information in my post that you didn’t know.  That is my goal with this website, to make sure that people are aware of anything that can affect dogs.

      Thank you



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