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Dog Care | Diabetes in Dogs

What is Diabetes in Dogs?

Diabetes in dogs, just like in humans, is on the rise. In Canada, an average of 4 of every 500 dogs will develop diabetes. This number may be higher due to undiagnosed cases.

Diabetes Mellitus or “sugar diabetes” is caused by a lack of available insulin in the body. This means the pancreas is not producing enough or body cells are failing to respond to insulin, or possibly both.

In most healthy dogs, food is broken down during digestion into nutrients that are used by the body. Carbs, or starches, are converted into sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed into the blood and provides energy. The job of insulin is to transfer glucose from the bloodstream to the body cells – but this can only occur if enough is present. If the dog does not have enough insulin, the result excess glucose which is excreted through urine, causing the dog to eat and drink more. Because their energy source is being lost, the dog may eat more, but still lose weight.

Symptoms of Canine Diabetes

  • Frequent Urination
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Hunger, With Weight Loss
  • Weakness, Lack of Energy
  • Increased Infections, Especially Urinary
  • Cloudy Eyes and Vision Loss
  • Rough or Coarse Coat

Although diabetes most typically happens to middle to old age dogs, a pet that is overweight has a higher chance of becoming diabetic. Middle-aged females are the most likely to develop the condition, 2-3 more times than male dogs.

Pet owners are encouraged to spay their female dogs to lower their chances of developing diabetes. Also, certain other drugs, including cortisone-type medications may trigger diabetes in dogs. Pet owners should always ask their vet about possible side effects to medication.

Risk factors such as obesity, whether they are spayed, age, breed and medications can all affect diabetes.

Prevention Through Early Diagnosis

  • Australian Terrier
  • Schnauzer
  • Bichon Frise
  • Spitz
  • Fox Terrier
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Samoyed
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Keeshound
  • Maltese
  • Toy Poodle
  • Lhaso Apso
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Pug
  • Poodle
  • Daschund
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chow Chow
  • Eagle
  • Doberman
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Hungarian Pulli
  • Golden Retriever
  • Miniature Pinscher
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Springer Spaniel
  • Schipperke
  • Finnish Spitz
  • West Highland White Terrier


If you suspect your dog might be suffering from, or may have the chance of developing diabetes, take your dog to Dewinton for a general examination. Symptoms of diabetes can also be seen in other conditions and infections, and some diseases can be obstacles to treatment. Early screening and a confirmed diagnosis are essential to providing the proper care.

Your vet will check your dog’s general health to rule out the presence of other diseases or illnesses. They will also do urine tests and blood samples.


Long-term complications of diabetes are a result of prolonged high blood glucose.

The most common complication if left untreated is diabetic cataracts. A cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes milky and opaque, which results in blindness. If a cataract is present, the lens of the eye can be removed to restore vision. Control of high blood glucose can help prevent, and even delay the onset of diabetic cataracts.

If left untreated, canine diabetes can result in kidney damage, recurring infections and even death.

Sometimes canine diabetes progresses so slowly that symptoms can be missed. If left undetected, your dog can become very sick, very suddenly, which is why this disease is sometimes referred to as “the silent killer.”

The diagnosis sounds frightening, but many dogs live comfortably with diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment is critical for preventing further complications for developing.


You can successfully manage your diabetic dog’s health with insulin injections, proper diet and exercise.

The majority of dogs with diabetes mellitus, like humans, will need insulin injections once or twice daily. Your vet will determine the dose that’s right for your dog and teach you how to administer the injection properly. Based on blood and urine glucose levels, your vet will adjust the dose until the correct dose is established. This can take 1-2 months.

  • Gently mix the insulin by inverting the bottle a couple times
  • Fill the syringe slightly past the recommended dose
  • Remove any air bubbles by tapping on the syringe with your finger
  • Depress the plunger to the correct dose of insulin
  • Draw your dog’s skin gently upwards and make a small hallow with your index finger
  • Place the needle in the hallow and push it gently through the skin
  • After inserting the needle, release the skin and depress the plunger slowly
Tip: Rotate the injection site on each side of and along the spine. This will prevent fibrosis and reduced insulin absorption.

Living With Your Diabetic Dog

You may be asked by the vet to check up on your dog’s clinical signs as well as to regularly checking the glucose concentrations in urine and/or blood samples. Based on your findings, your vet will be able to make the right decision about the insulin dose your dog will be receiving. It may help to decide one insulin caregiver per household and to mark on a calendar when to give the injection and whether it has been given or not.

Your pet will need insulin for the rest of their life, but this does not mean that you both will not be able to enjoy a happy life.

Nutrition And Diet

As well as a strict regimen of insulin therapy, your diabetic dog will also require a consistent feeding schedule. Your vet can recommend a diet that is high in fiber and complex carbs. Always ask your vet for advice before changing their diet.


Regular exercise is important for diabetic dogs, as it utilizes energy and helps to avoid hyperglycemia In addition, exercise may help improve insulin absorption.

Work together with your vet to come up with a healthy exercise routine for your dog – that also suits your lifestyle too.