What Are the Signs of Canine Diabetes and What Are The Treatment Options? - STATVet Animal Urgent Care | Tulsa Emergency Veterinarian | Tulsa, OK
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What Are the Signs of Canine Diabetes and What Are The Treatment Options?


What Are the Signs of Canine Diabetes and What Are The Treatment Options?

Dogs Get Diabetes?

Signs of Canine Diabetes

Diabetes is not limited to humans. Yes, dogs can indeed develop diabetes. Canine diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic metabolic disorder that affects dogs in a manner similar to how it affects humans. It occurs when the dog’s body has difficulty regulating blood sugar (glucose) levels. This can happen for several reasons, but it primarily involves problems with insulin, a hormone responsible for regulating glucose in the bloodstream.

How Does This Happen?

Canine diabetes, or diabetes mellitus in dogs, develops when a dog’s body struggles to regulate its blood sugar levels, primarily due to a malfunction in the pancreas. Here’s how a canine can get diabetes:

Genetic Predisposition

Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to diabetes. Genetics play a role in a dog’s likelihood of developing the condition.


Obesity is a significant risk factor for diabetes in dogs. Excess body fat can cause insulin resistance, meaning the dog’s cells don’t respond effectively to insulin, which regulates blood sugar.

Autoimmune Disorders

In some cases, a dog’s immune system may mistakenly attack and damage the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. This is known as immune-mediated diabetes.


Just like in humans, age can be a factor. Older dogs are more prone to diabetes, as the pancreas may not function as efficiently.

Other Health Conditions

Certain medical conditions, like pancreatitis, can damage the pancreas, leading to diabetes.


A high-sugar diet, or one that’s consistently high in carbohydrates, can stress the pancreas, potentially leading to diabetes over time.

Environmental Factors

Some environmental factors, such as exposure to certain toxins or medications, may increase the risk of diabetes.

Preventing canine diabetes often involves maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify any risk factors or early signs of the disease, ensuring prompt intervention and management if necessary.

What Dogs Get It?

Signs of Canine Diabetes

Certain dog breeds have a higher predisposition to diabetes compared to others. While diabetes can affect dogs of any breed, age, or size, some breeds appear to be more susceptible. These breeds include:


Both standard and miniature Poodles have a higher incidence of diabetes. Miniature Poodles, in particular, are often mentioned as being at increased risk.


Dachshunds, especially the overweight ones, are more prone to developing diabetes.


Beagles have also shown an increased likelihood of developing diabetes.

Cocker Spaniels

This breed has a higher susceptibility to diabetes, particularly in older dogs.

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are one of the larger breeds that can be at risk for diabetes, especially as they age.


Miniature Schnauzers have an increased risk of diabetes.


This breed may be predisposed to diabetes, but the reasons are unclear.

It’s essential to note that while these breeds are more likely to develop diabetes, any dog can be affected. In addition to breed predisposition, factors like genetics, obesity, age, and overall health play crucial roles in the development of diabetes in dogs. Regular veterinary care and a healthy lifestyle can help manage and reduce the risk of diabetes, even in breeds with a genetic predisposition.

Signs of Canine Diabetes

Signs of Canine Diabetes

Here are the top signs that you need to pay attention to as a pet owner.

Increased Thirst and Urination

One of the most prominent signs of canine diabetes is polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyuria (increased urination). Dogs with diabetes often drink more water than usual and may need to urinate frequently, even at night. This is because the dog’s body is trying to eliminate the excess glucose in the urine.

Increased Appetite

While it might seem counterintuitive, dogs with diabetes often have an increased appetite (polyphagia). This is because their cells do not receive the necessary energy from glucose, so they feel hungry.

Weight Loss

Despite an increased appetite, dogs with diabetes tend to lose weight. The inability to properly utilize glucose leads to the breakdown of stored fats and proteins for energy. This results in weight loss despite a healthy or increased food intake.

Lethargy and Weakness

Diabetic dogs may appear lethargic and weak. The cells in their body are not receiving sufficient glucose, the primary energy source. This can lead to a lack of energy, making them less active and more sluggish.

Change in Vision

Diabetes can lead to the formation of cataracts in a dog’s eyes, clouding their vision. This condition, if left untreated, can eventually cause blindness. Cataracts typically develop rapidly in diabetic dogs.

Recurrent Infections

Dogs with diabetes are more susceptible to infections, particularly urinary tract and skin infections. The high levels of glucose in the urine create a favorable environment for bacterial growth.

Sweet or Fruity Odor in Breath

Diabetic dogs might have a distinct sweet or fruity odor in their breath. This is a result of the body trying to excrete excess glucose through the breath, creating a distinctive scent.

Vomiting and Dehydration

As diabetes progresses, dogs may experience vomiting and dehydration due to the metabolic imbalances caused by the disease. This is a serious condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Poor Wound Healing

Diabetic dogs may exhibit slow wound healing. High glucose levels can impair the body’s ability to repair and regenerate tissues.


In advanced cases of diabetes, dogs may develop neuropathy, which can cause weakness in their hind limbs. They may have difficulty walking and lose coordination.

Treatment Options for Canine Diabetes

You have several options when it comes to caring for your dog as they deal with this.

Insulin Therapy

The primary treatment for canine diabetes is insulin therapy. Dogs with diabetes require regular insulin injections to regulate their blood glucose levels. The insulin type and dosage are determined by a veterinarian based on the dog’s individual needs. It’s essential for pet owners to learn how to administer insulin properly.

Diet Management

A carefully controlled diet is crucial in managing diabetes in dogs. A veterinarian can recommend a suitable diet plan that is high in fiber and low in simple carbohydrates. Feeding your dog at specific times and in consistent amounts can help regulate blood sugar levels.


Regular, moderate exercise is beneficial for dogs with diabetes. It helps improve insulin sensitivity and maintain a healthy body weight. However, it’s essential to maintain a consistent exercise routine and avoid excessive physical activity, which can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels

Pet owners should closely monitor their dog’s blood glucose levels with their veterinarians. Regular blood tests help determine the effectiveness of insulin therapy and any necessary adjustments.

Managing Infections

Preventing and promptly treating infections is crucial for diabetic dogs. Regular check-ups and monitoring for signs of infection are necessary. Preventative measures include maintaining good hygiene and managing skin and urinary tract health.


Signs of a Serious Diabetes Flare Up and What To Do


Recognizing the serious signs of diabetes in your canine companion is essential for their well-being.  In an emergency, when you suspect your dog is experiencing a diabetic crisis, such as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) or hypoglycemia, immediate action is crucial. DKA is characterized by symptoms like vomiting, rapid breathing, weakness, and a distinct sweet-smelling breath. Hypoglycemia, on the other hand, manifests as trembling, confusion, seizures, and even loss of consciousness.

If your dog displays any of these severe symptoms, follow these steps:

  1. Contact Your Veterinarian: Reach out to your vet or an emergency pet clinic immediately. They can provide guidance on the next steps and prepare for your dog’s arrival.
  2. Monitor Blood Sugar: If you have a glucose monitoring kit and your dog is conscious, check their blood sugar levels. If it’s too high (in DKA) or too low (in hypoglycemia), your vet can guide you on the necessary action.
  3. Stay Calm: Your dog may sense your anxiety, so try to remain calm and comforting.

Prevention and early management are key in dealing with diabetes in dogs. Regular check-ups, a consistent diet, and proper insulin administration (if required) can help your furry friend lead a healthier and happier life despite their condition. If you suspect diabetes, consult your vet for a comprehensive diagnosis and a tailored care plan.



Recognizing the signs of canine diabetes is the first step in providing appropriate care for your furry friend. If you observe any of the symptoms mentioned, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian for a thorough evaluation.  Remember that you can take proactive steps to prevent diabetes in your dog. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary care can significantly reduce the risk of your beloved canine companion developing this condition. In the event of a serious flare up, contact your vet immediately or find your local animal urgent care. If you are in the Tulsa area, STATVet can help. We are open nights and weekends to provide care during the times your pet may need it most.