Dog Health

Diabetes in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Management

Diabetes in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Management

Diabetes in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Management


Diabetes in dogs is a very serious condition; however, it’s also one that can be managed very successfully. Much like in humans, dog diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin in the body, which causes an issue with their metabolism, preventing them from turning food into energy. 

Here, Pedigree explores the causes and symptoms of this disorder, as well as giving some guidance on management. 


Glucose and Insulin


Glucose is a sugar used for fuelling the cells in your dog’s body. As their body breaks down food, it converts some of the nutrients into glucose. This is carried in your dog’s blood to power each of their cells. 


Insulin is the hormone produced by your dog’s body to help their cells take the glucose in. Diabetes in dogs is the result of this process not working correctly. 


Type 1 Diabetes in Dogs


The most common cause of diabetes in dogs, type 1 diabetes is the result of insulin deficiency. This generally occurs due to a dog’s pancreas not functioning properly, which prevents them from producing enough insulin to allow their cells to absorb enough glucose. 


Type 2 Diabetes in Dogs


Less common in dogs, type 2 diabetes is often found in older and obese dogs. Rather than being caused by not enough insulin being produced, type 2 diabetes results from insulin-resistance in a dog’s cells. This insulin-resistance means that the insulin produced by your dog’s body is unable to help their cells to absorb the glucose from their blood.


Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs


If your dog is suffering with either type 1 or 2 diabetes, it is likely that they will present with one or all the following symptoms:


  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss despite normal or increased food consumption

If the diabetes is more advanced and hasn’t been treated, the following symptoms may also be seen:


  • Lack of appetite
  • Low energy
  • Low mood
  • Vomiting
  • Development of cataracts and blindness

If your dog is showing some of these symptoms and you are worried they might be diabetic, consult a vet for advice. They will be able to determine if your dog is diabetic with a simple urine test, a diagnose should be confirmed by a blood test.. If your dog is diabetic, this test will show glucose is present in their urine.  


Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs – Injections

Dogs with diabetes can live long and happy lives, if they are cared for properly. Diabetic dogs, particularly those suffering with type 1 diabetes, will often require daily injections of insulin. This is to help their cells absorb the glucose in their blood. This is not a procedure you should carry out without consulting a vet first.

This process can be difficult for both dog and owner, as it may take time for your pet to become used to the injections. Your vet will be able to provide advice on the best way to administer injections and minimise distress for your dog.

Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs – Exercise


Moderate exercise is crucial for maintaining the health of dogs with diabetes. Light walks and play are important, to moderate spikes and dips in a diabetic dog’s glucose levels. 


The level of activity required will vary depending on their age, however a vet will be able to help you decide on a suitable training regime. 

Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs – Diet


Essential for all dogs suffering with diabetes, a good diet can help them to lead a healthy and normal life. It is vital that you moderate the amount of sugar ingested by your dog. 


A vet will help you to create a suitable nutritional plan for your pet. This diet will often primarily consist of good-quality protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates. This combination will promote a slow release of glucose and make absorption by their cells easier.


Diabetic Dog Treats


The need to avoid sugar can make rewarding your dog seem difficult, however there are many recommended diabetic dog treats. These can include:


  • Green beans
  • Carrot sticks
  • Tuna
  • Freeze-dried liver
  • Low carb dog treats