Canine Diabetes

by Dr. Francesca Matthews


What is it?


There are two types, one where your dog is not producing enough insulin in the pancreas (type 1) or one where your dog produces enough insulin, but their body does not use it properly. The first type is more common in dogs and the second type in cats.

What signs might my dog show?


  • Eating more – seeming to be very hungry but still losing weight
  • Increased drinking
  • increased urinating – may even start having accidents in the house
  • Lethargy – your pet is doing less than usual
  • Thinning or dry/dull coat


Are any particular breeds or situations that put my pet at higher risk?


  • Increased age = increased risk
  • Male more at risk than females
  • Interestingly, unlike cats, obesity is not a huge risk factor for dogs.  Normal weight dogs are more commonly presented with diabetes. 
  • Physical inactivity
  • Indoor animals
  • Excess of certain medications including steriods and oestrogen compounds.
  • There is a possible breed predisposition in Miniature Schnauzers



How do you test for it?


veterinarians will listen to the signs you explain to them, they will complete a clinical examination and then take urine and/or blood tests. The main thing that is seen on a urine or blood test is high levels of glucose. This is because your dog's body is not regulating the blood sugar levels by producing enough insulin.

A single high glucose result may not necessarily be a definite diagnosis of diabetes. Continuous high glucose needs to be demonstrated on more than one blood test. A once off, high blood glucose can be seen in times of stress for example.

How is it treated?


Unfortunately diabetes cannot be cured in dogs, however it can be managed successfully with daily injections of insulin.

A diet change is also important in making the body more responsive to insulin. There are prescription diets that are specifically designed as suitable for the diabetic pet, such as Hills W/D.

What are some of the problems associated with diabetes?


In the dog, blindness, due to cataract formation are common even when the diabetes is well controlled. Cataracts can be successfully removed in many dogs to allow the return of eye sight.

Ongoing followup


In the first few weeks, while a suitable dose rate is being evaulated, it is likely we will need your dog in several times to ascertain we have good control of the diabetes. After this 3-6 monthly visits for glucose curves may be advised. You veterinarian will advise on the specific situation for your pet.

What are the potential complications of treating a diabetic pet?


If your pet gets too much insulin, there is a potential for hypo-glycaemia. Signs of this can include weakness, lethargy, lack of coordination, convulsions and eventually coma. If it is left untreated it can result in death. If this is suspected thought, it can be rectified relatively simply with either food, or if the dog is past being able to eat, sugar syrup rubbed on its gums.

If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, you will be educated on this problem and how to rectifiy it by our veterinarians and veterinary nurses attending your dogs case.


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