Can Dogs Get Diabetes? Yes, Here Are 6 Major Risk Factors, Symptoms, And Treatment for Canine Diabetes

can dogs get diabetes

Did you know that one out of every 300 dogs is diagnosed with diabetes? In the United States, diabetes has become alarmingly common in canines with a rise of nearly 80% cases over the decade. Luckily, science has made huge advancements with medication, and dogs with diabetes are living healthier and longer lives today. This little piece of information is probably enough to answer your question “Can dogs get diabetes?”

So, Can Dogs Get Diabetes?

Yes, dogs can get diabetes. Canine diabetes is caused when a dog’s body cannot produce enough insulin, or the insulin produced isn’t consumed properly.

The article will go through the signs of canine diabetes and what you can do for your dog if they are diabetic. But first, if you have no idea what diabetes is, here’s a brief introduction.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes (clinical name: Diabetes mellitus) is a chronic disease that occurs when the body cannot use glucose normally.

Glucose is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells. Think of it this way: glucose for the body is like fuel for cars. Now, to control the level of glucose in the blood, the pancreas produces a hormone called Insulin.

When we eat food, the sugar content is transported to the intestine and is converted into glucose. With the help of insulin, the glucose is then circulated and delivered from the bloodstream to the cells. If the body doesn’t contain enough insulin or cannot use the insulin produced, glucose starts building up in the blood. This causes the sugar level in the blood to rise and the result is Diabetes.

Diabetes in Dogs: Canine Diabetes

Canine diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the pancreas of dogs. It is caused by the overproduction of sugar and an inability to regulate blood sugar levels in the dog.

Insulin production begins at the pancreatic beta cells, but instead, they fire off their insulin throughout the body too quickly, causing blood sugars levels to rise and then forcing them back down with adrenaline or alcohol into cells via hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL). If this doesn’t happen, these excess blood sugars will remain in the bloodstream and cause diabetes in dogs.

In simple words, when insulin isn’t produced by the pancreas or when the dog’s body is unable to use the existing insulin properly, the glucose isn’t circulated either. The sugar level rises in the dog’s bloodstream, making them ‘diabetic’.

Type Of Diabetes in Dogs

You may have heard that the human body is subject to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In the case of dogs, however, there is no such thing as type 1 or type 2 diabetes. The United Kingdom’s Royal Veterinary College recognizes the following two types of diabetes in dogs:

  1. Insulin-Deficiency Diabetes (IDD)

Insulin-deficiency diabetes (IDD) is when the dog’s body is not capable of producing the insulin required for the body. This can happen if the dog’s pancreas isn’t functioning properly or otherwise, damaged. If your dog is diagnosed with IDD, they are going to need a daily shot of insulin.

  1. Insulin-Resistance Diabetes (IRD)

Insulin-resistance diabetes (IRD) is when the dog’s body is not making use of the insulin produced by the pancreas. As a result, the glucose is not circulated and the sugar level keeps rising in the blood. IRD can be seen most commonly in obese and older dogs.

The Likelihood of Diabetes in Dogs

The key to preventing diabetes is understanding the risk factors that can increase the likelihood of diabetes in dogs.

So, what are the risk factors for diabetes in dogs? Let’s find out!

1. Age

While there is no fixed age, diabetes is most commonly seen in middle-aged to senior dogs. Most dogs are 5 years or older when diagnosed.

2. Gender

Reports suggest that neutered female dogs are twice as likely to get diabetes as male dogs.

3. Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic Pancreatitis or repetitive cases of inflammation of the pancreas in dogs can cause serious damage to the pancreas, resulting in diabetes in the long run.

4. Obesity

Obesity in dogs is a risk for damage to the pancreas and can also cause insulin resistance, both of which can lead to diabetes.

5. Excessive use of steroids

You might have used steroids as medication for your dog for various health issues such as itching, allergies, inflammation, immune system irregularities, and other skin problems. The use of these steroids can cause diabetes when used for a long time.

6. Genetics

Genetics can play a major role in either increased or decreased risk of diabetes in dogs.

According to “A 2003 study found that overall; mixed-breeds are no less prone to diabetes than the purebreds. Some breeds that may be at higher risk include Australian Terriers, miniature Poodles, Puli, Bichon Frises,  Miniature Schnauzers, Samoyeds, Keeshonds, Pugs, Dachshunds, Fox Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles.”

Symptoms Of Diabetes in Dogs

There are many similarities in the symptoms of diabetes as seen in humans and dogs. It is common for a diabetic dog to urinate frequently, as well as strain. They may also drink frequently or eat more than usual. In dogs with diabetes, those symptoms can be the first sign that there is a problem.

If your dog is diabetic, the following symptoms can be noticed:

  1. Increased thirst: You may notice that your dog is emptying the water can more often.
  2. Excessive urination: Your dog can be seen going outside to pee frequently or even having a “little accident” inside the house.
  3. Weight loss: Your pooch might be eating a normal amount of food, but you may notice them losing significant weight.
  4. Increase in appetite: Your dog may feel hungry all the time, even if they are eating normal portions of food at regular intervals.
  5. Lack of energy: You may see your dog looking fragile and tired all the time.
  6. Sweet-smelling breath: A sweet, fruity odor in the breath can be a sign of diabetes in dogs.
  7. Cloudy eyes: If diabetes goes undiagnosed in a dog for a long time, cataracts, a condition that forms a dense, cloudy area in the lens of the eye, can be found. This can eventually lead to blindness.

Effects Of Diabetes in Dogs

Chronic high blood sugar can lead to eye damage and potential blindness in dogs. The progressive worsening of diabetes can also eventually lead to kidney or heart failure for some animals. This exacerbates the earlier symptoms and often leads to death.

Diabetes in Dogs can exhibit the following effects:

In dogs, when vital cell organs get deprived of insulin, their body starts breaking down protein and fat as an alternative energy source. Unfortunately, this odd system doesn’t go well with other organs and ultimately causes multi-organ failure. Damage can be seen in organs like the heart, kidneys, blood vessels, nerves, or eyes.

Diagnosis Of Diabetes in Dogs

If you find any or all of the above symptoms in your furry friend, take them to your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will do simple tests to measure the blood glucose level in your dog’s system and determine if there is an abnormality. This includes a blood test and urine test to find out the excessive glucose content in the body.

With early diagnosis and treatment, your dog can live a long and healthy life. So, it’s really important that you recognize the symptoms and take action as soon as possible.

Also, check out Can Dogs Get Dementia?

What Can Be Done to Remove the Risk Factors of Diabetes in Dogs?

Here are some points that can help you mitigate the elements of risk.

  1. Avoid feeding processed and canned food on a regular basis.
  2. Feed a balanced diet with a moderate amount of protein, fat, fiber, and low carbohydrate content.
  3. Keep your dog active by providing them with necessary exercise.
  4. Keep your dog’s weight in check. Do not let them over-eat. Instead of leaving food out all the time, make sure to feed them twice a day.

Cure For Diabetes in Dogs

Unfortunately, no cure is available for diabetes in dogs. Just like with humans, diabetic dogs will have to live with this disease throughout their life. But, don’t be disheartened. Canine diabetes is completely manageable and with the right treatment, any diabetic dog will be able to live a long and blissful life.

Treatment For Diabetes in Dogs

Your veterinarian will determine the best treatment plan after your dog is diagnosed with diabetes. Initially, you might have to visit the clinic frequently for tests and adjustments. Hopefully, with the right medication, diet, and lots of love from your side, your lovely pet will be up and running in no time.

Your vet will most likely help you in the following ways:

Other Health Conditions That Your Diabetic Dog Is Prone To

With the right medication and a healthy lifestyle, a diabetic dog can live a full and happy life. However, if, your dog is diabetic you have to watch out for a few other health issues. Diabetic dogs are susceptible to the following conditions:

  1. Cataracts: A common health complication in a diabetic dog is cataracts. Reports show that 75% of dogs get cataracts in both eyes within 9 months of being diagnosed with diabetes. This can lead to blindness, if not treated in time. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice a dense layer or cloudiness in your dog’s eyes. This illness can be removed with the help of surgery.
  2. Urinary Tract Infection: The risk of Urinary Tract Infection is high in a diabetic dog because of excess sugar content in the urine. Make sure to watch out for any discomfort when your dog is urinating. If you feel so, contact your vet for advice.

Life With Your Diabetic Dog

If your dog gets diagnosed with diabetes, there is a little adjustment that you have to make to your daily routine.

As a responsible dog owner, you have to monitor your diabetic dog’s health progress regularly. Every day, make sure you check your dog’s blood sugar level and record the results. You should also record any ketone test result, fluctuation in your dog’s weight, energy level, appetite, frequency of water intake, and urination. Keep tabs on all medications and note down the reaction or side effects of the medicines if you see any. You can update your veterinarian with the progress and ask for advice if needed.

Watch out for hyperglycemia, a condition where glucose level rises above the normal level (your vet will tell you what the normal level is. Generally, they try to keep the blood glucose level below 200 mg/dl), and hypoglycemia, a condition where glucose level drops to 60 mg/dl.

You can either make a separate logbook to record this, or a computer excel sheet will do just fine. If you want to buy a notebook, here’s a link to buy one of the cutest medical record books for your dog.

This might feel like a daunting task for the first few days, but you will get used to it. Once it becomes a part of your day, you’ll feel just like how you feel about taking your dog out for a walk – a routine job.

If you’re having a hard time dealing with your dog with diabetes, here is a great book that is well-written and informative about dog diabetes. It also contains additional information about insulin and diet.


To cut a long story short, yes, dogs can get diabetes. Diabetes in dogs can cause a lot of unpleasant effects. It can be a challenge, but remember, this is a challenge you can successfully win. With the right medication and lots of love and care, you can ensure a healthy and happy companionship together.

Thank you for reading the article.

Explore more diabetes-related dog articles in canine diabetes. 

Did you already know that dogs can get diabetes? Were you familiar with the risk factors of diabetes in dogs? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!

Exit mobile version