Diabetes has been a common and increasing phenomenon among dogs. Every one out of 300 canines is diagnosed with diabetes mellitus annually. Moreover, the rate of this disease has risen as much as three times since the 1970s in the United States.

Diabetes mellitus is an illness in dogs that deals with the deficiency of insulin in the body. It may also be caused by the mutated response of the body cells to insulin production. As a result, the muscles and organs fail to convert glucose into energy, leading to a condition called hyperglycemia.

Types of Diabetes in Dogs

There are typically two forms of diabetes that occur in dogs:

Type 1

This is also commonly referred to as the insulin-deficiency diabetic condition. If the dog suffers from Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas has stopped producing the insulin needed by the body. In order to make up for the much-needed insulin, dogs are given daily shots to maintain the blood sugar level in the body. It is also the most common disease in canines, especially domestic animals.

Type 2

The other type of diabetes is known as insulin-resistance diabetes, where the pancreas produces some amount of insulin, but the body fails to utilize it to yield glucose for energy. In this particular condition, the cells become unresponsive to the production of insulin in the body. Type 2 is commonly found in older dogs that tend to be obese

dog on pink

What Causes Diabetes in Dogs?

The following factors play an equally important role in putting the dog at the risk of diabetes:

1. Pancreatitis

Inflammation of the pancreas may lead to extensive damage to the pancreas and its ability to produce insulin. This condition may be chronic to eventually lead to diabetes. This inflammation may be caused by injury, infection, body fat, stress, and foods such as sugar and gelatin.

2. Obesity

This is yet another major source of diabetes in dogs. Weight loss and management is vital for canines to ensure adequate functioning of organs such as the pancreas. Obesity is considered as a chronic pro-inflammatory disease that eventually leads to pancreatitis and diabetes. Thus, your chubby dog is at risk unless you make the necessary changes to its diet plan.

3. Cushing’s Disease

Here’s another cause of diabetes in dogs. Cushing’s disease is a condition in which the adrenal glands produce excessive cortisol. This disease may be caused by the pituitary gland tumor, adrenal gland tumor or excessive use of corticosteroid medications. As a result of the disease, the dog can become prone to diabetes.

4. Age & Gender

A dog’s age and gender also play a crucial role in determining diabetes. Although diabetes may occur at any age, middle-aged and senior dogs are relatively more prone to diabetes. The condition is usually diagnosed in dogs aged 5 years or higher. Moreover, female canines have twice as much probability of getting diabetes than males.

5. Genetics

This is yet another source of diabetes in dogs. Genetics can determine many other diseases, not just diabetes.

According to a study conducted in 2003, purebreds are slightly less immune to diabetes than mixed breeds. Below is a short list of breeds that are susceptible to this disease:

  • Boxer
  • Beagle
  • Chow Chow
  • Poodle
  • Golden Retriever
  • German Shepherd Dog
  • Springer Spaniel
  • Tibetan Terrier

There are many other causes of diabetes in addition to these such as GMOs, metabolic syndrome, toxins, vaccination, and diet.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?

The symptoms of diabetes in dogs may be divided into early signs and advanced signs, where the later may be more definitive.

Early Signs

The following few symptoms count as the initial signs of hyperglycemia in dogs:

  • If your dog is thirsty more often on a daily basis and you have recently encountered this change, it may signal diabetes. Count the number of times you refill its water bowl regularly.
  • The dog may feel hungry more than necessary too. Since the body cells are not provided with sufficient glucose, the dog may be consuming more food, looking for the deficient glucose.
  • Unexplainable signs of weight loss may also indicate diabetes. If it is being fed adequately, this unusual weight loss may be explained by the body’s inability to get nutrients from food.
  • Excessive urination is another apparent indication of diabetes. The body sends out excess sugar through urine.

Advanced Signs

As for the more advanced signs, you may come across a few of the following:

  • Appetite may be lost entirely.
  • The dog may demonstrate fatigue and inactivity during the active hours of the day owing to a lack of energy.
  • A depressed attitude is also concerning and may indicate diabetes mellitus.
  • If the dog throws up often, you must get it checked for this condition.

A few other signs may include cataract formation, chronic skin infection, urinary tract infection and fruity breath.

How to Treat Canine Diabetes?

If diabetes has been diagnosed in your dog, the treatment entails the following:


A diabetic dog will require changes to its daily diet to ensure high-quality protein, fiber, and carbs. A low-fat diet may also be prescribed by the doctor. Stick to what the doctor recommends.


In the case of Type 1 diabetes, most dogs receive daily insulin shots to make up for the deficiency. This may be practiced either at a vet facility or by the owner.


Exercise is recommended for diabetic dogs as it helps keep the glucose levels in moderation. You may be required to exercise the dog more often to keep some kind of activity going.

With the help of these methods, you may be able to treat diabetes or at the very least prevent it from becoming fatal.

Final Thoughts

It is worth mentioning that diabetes is a manageable disease in dogs. It just needs to be diagnosed in time so that you can take precautions and medications. A timely and continuous treatment may lead to a healthy and happy dog!