Canine Diabetes

Canine diabetes is one of the most common hormonal diseases in dogs and can appear in animals as young as 18 months of age. However, the majority of dogs are diagnosed between the ages of around seven and ten. Female dogs are more prone to the disease than male dogs. This Holidays4Dogs article will cover signs to watch out for, as well as treatments available.

We have many carers in our network who are experienced in caring for dogs with conditions such as diabetes.

There are two types of diabetes in dogs;

Type 1 DM (Diabetes Mellitus) happens when the body does not provide adequate insulin which can then result in the destruction of pancreatic cells which normally produce insulin. This form requires the dog to have regular insulin injections to control the condition. It is more common for dogs to have this type of diabetes.

Type 11 DM is when the dog is able to produce enough insulin, but cannot utilise it within the body.

Symptoms to watch for:

Dogs with diabetes will often present with an obvious increase in thirst, accompanied by the need to urinate more frequently.

It is also common for dogs to show an increase in appetite, but without weight gain. There will often be evidence of poor condition.

The sudden appearance of cataracts is also a sign that diabetes could be present.

Exhaustion and fatigue. 

Causes of diabetes:

The reason why dogs develop diabetes is unclear, but there are some factors which may explain why the condition occurs;

The dog’s breed and genetic make-up – some breeds are more susceptible to the disease than others.

High fat diets and obesity are also said to contribute to the possible development of diabetes. However, there is also evidence to suggest that the most common form of diabetes in dogs; Type 1 is similar to Type 1 diabetes in humans – which is not caused by obesity. 

Pregnancy can also increase the risk of dogs developing diabetes. Sometimes, although not always, symptoms will disappear once the pregnancy comes to an end.  

Pancreatitis is also said to be associated with the development of diabetes in dogs. 

Diagnoses of canine diabetes:

Thankfully, diagnosis of the disease is relatively simple and involves testing the urine for signs of glucose and indications of any infection. The dog will undergo blood tests and a complete blood count to establish the concentration of blood glucose and to rule out other diseases which have similar symptoms. If complications are suspected, the vet may suggest abdominal X-rays, or an ultrasound scan.

Treatment of canine diabetes:

Treating dogs for this condition is very similar to the treatment in humans using insulin supplements and dietary adjustments.

Dogs diagnosed with diabetes are still able to live normal and active lives. At first, injecting your dog on a regular basis may seem a difficult proposition. However, your vet will show you how to do this and the majority of owners are able to cope with the management of the condition.

The needles are very small and the dog will feel little discomfort. You will need to make sure that you can inject your dog at the same time each day, normally twelve hours apart.

It is also important to stick to a weight management programme and feed your dog at regular intervals.

There may be an initial period of adjustment to establish the correct dose of insulin which is likely to involve further blood tests to find out when the glucose peaks and troughs.

The results of these tests can help the vet to fine tune the dose and the timing of the injections. Most dogs can be managed easily without complications arising, but your vet will advise you of what to look out for in case problems should arise.

It is possible for the dog to become hypoglycaemic – where there are low levels of glucose; or hyperglycaemic – where there are high levels of glucose.


With early diagnoses and effective monitoring, the diabetic dog can enjoy the same life expectancy as any dog. Management of the condition does require some commitment and effort, but most owners find that it creates a much stronger bond with their pet. Many canine patients regain a new lease of life after treatment.

Down load PDF handout on Diabetes in Dogs here