What is dog diabetes?
Understanding the biology of diabetes
What are the types of diabetes?
- Insulin-dependent diabetes (also known as type I diabetes) - dogs with this type of diabetes don’t produce enough insulin to help the cells absorb glucose. This is the most common type of diabetes in dogs
- Insulin-resistant diabetes (also known as type II diabetes) - dogs affected by this condition produce insulin, but the body cells become resistant to its action so it does not work as it should, preventing cells from pulling in enough glucose
- Gestational diabetes – female dogs can sometimes become insulin-resistant when pregnant
What causes diabetes?
Which dogs are most at risk of diabetes?
- Dogs with other conditions, such as obesity, pancreatitis, hyperadrenocorticism (also known as Cushing’s disease)
- Older dogs (those over eight years old and especially those between 10 and 13 years old)
- Female dogs
- Male neutered dogs
- Dogs that have previously been on steroid treatment
- Border Terriers and West Highland White Terriers
What are the symptoms of dog diabetes?
- Being thirsty
- Urinating a lot
- Changes in how hungry they are
- Unexpected weight loss
- Urinary infections
- Their breath smells sweet
- Poor eyesight
Can diabetes be cured?
- Feeding them a balanced and healthy diet
- Avoiding overfeeding or giving them fatty foods
- Keeping your dog active and healthy
- Regularly seeing the vet for check-ups
- Carefully considering whether to spay your dog. Female entire dogs and neutered male dogs have been suggested to be more at risk of diabetes. Spaying is a complex decision with lots of factors to consider and is not always black and white. Talk to your vet about this decision and make sure you do thorough research before making a final choice
How is diabetes diagnosed in dogs?
Managing your dog’s diabetes
If your dog is affected by diabetes, then your vet will be able to work with you to help create a treatment plan. This may involve:
- Regular insulin injections (usually two a day). Your vet will show you how to do this
- Monitoring your dog’s glucose levels
- Keeping an eye on your dog for signs of diabetes
- Regular check-ups with your vet
- Regular and consistent exercise
- Watching out for complications of diabetes, such as cataracts or urinary tract infections
Think your dog may be affected?
If you're worried about your dog's health, always contact your vet immediately!
We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information
Find a vet near you
If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.