Caring for Dogs with Diabetes: Identifying Signs and Managing the Condition

Image Credit:Diabetes Marathon

One of the most typical chronic conditions identified in small animal veterinary clinics is diabetes mellitus. Since dogs often do not consume a lot of sugar in their food, this may surprise some dog guardians, but this is because the illness is not properly understood. Despite its prevalence, particularly in older female dogs, more awareness is needed to both watch for the disease’s indications and stop it from developing. The first thing we should be aware of is that with the right management of medication, a dog with diabetes mellitus can live a decent quality of life.

Canine diabetes mellitus is an endocrine condition in dogs causing persistent hyperglycemia and elevated blood glucose levels. It involves illnesses affecting insulin production or activity. Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, releases glucose to enter cells for energy.

Insufficient insulin synthesis leads to glucose accumulation in the blood, causing hyperglycemia. When glucose exceeds the renal threshold, it is discharged in urine. Tissues have limited glucose access, requiring protein and fat reserves to obtain energy. Diabetes is a complex condition with multiple causes in dogs.

Diabetes mellitus in dogs can have either primary or secondary causes.

Primary causes are those that impact the pancreas. Pancreatitis, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, and immune-mediated insulitis are just a few of the diseases that can damage this organ. Learn more about exocrine pancreatic insufficiency in dogs by reading our guide.


Image Credit:Aaron Eakin

Secondary reasons include glucocorticoid medication, excessive levels of progesterone, obesity, chronic infections or inflammation, and azotemia, which do not directly damage the pancreas. Our post on the origins and consequences of dog obesity will assist us in understanding how to avoid this issue.

Diabetes mellitus symptoms in dogs

Diabetes mellitus symptoms in dogs are usually pretty obvious. This makes it easier for caregivers to recognize symptoms and visit the veterinarian in the early stages of the disease. Diabetic dogs’ clinical signs include ‘the three P’s’: polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, and weight loss. These clinical symptoms are discussed in greater detail below.

Polyuria is defined as an increase in urine volume. As previously stated, when blood glucose levels above the renal threshold, glucose is excreted in the urine. Glucose serves as an osmotic diuretic, pulling significant amounts of water through the digestive tract and raising urine volume.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that requires correct blood-glucose management to ensure diabetic dogs have a high quality of life. To reduce or eliminate clinical indicators and delay the onset of consequences, it is critical to detect and control the condition as soon as feasible. Caregivers of diabetic dogs must understand how the condition works, the hazards it poses, and how to treat it.

Diabetes mellitus in dogs is a chronic disease that can lead to complications such as cataracts, bacterial infections, hepatic lipidosis, pancreatitis, peripheral neuropathy, glomerulopathies, and diabetic ketoacidosis. Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus in dogs is based on clinical history, blood tests, urine tests, and imaging diagnosis.

Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease that requires proper management of blood-glucose levels to ensure a good quality of life for diabetic dogs. It is essential to diagnose and control the disease as soon as possible to reduce or eliminate clinical signs and delay the onset of complications. Caregivers of diabetic dogs must understand the disease’s function, risks, and treatment.

Treatment of diabetic dogs is based on four fundamental factors: 

insulin, diet, and regular exercise. Insulin is a slow-acting insulin of porcine origin, administered subcutaneously twice a day. Diet and regular exercise are essential for maintaining a correct weight and reducing postprandial hypoglycemia. A diet low in fat, high in fiber, and with normal protein levels is recommended.

Control of other diseases and concurrent processes is crucial to keep diabetes under control. Regular check-ups and monitoring of weight, polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia are essential for monitoring the dog’s progress.


Image Credit:Diabetes Marathon

Preventing diabetes mellitus in dogs is not simple, but certain risk factors must be considered to prevent the onset of diabetes mellitus. Neutering, especially in female dogs, can help prevent insulin resistance. Spaying is also recommended for female dogs and bitches diagnosed with diabetes mellitus.