Dog, Health

Dog Diabetes Mellitus – All You need To Know About This Disease

It is not only the human owners that develop diabetes mellitus but their pet dogs as well. In fact, diabetes mellitus is a common metabolic disorder in dogs, especially in older canines. It is characterized by either a decreased level of the normal functioning of the insulin or the decreased production of insulin itself. Take note that the pancreas is the primary organ for the production of insulin that, in turn, helps transport the glucose from the bloodstream to the cells in the body for use as energy.

Which Dogs are at Risk?

Dogs can have diabetes mellitus at any age and at any breed. However, studies have pinpointed certain risk factors in dogs that can increase the development of this common metabolic disorder include females, 7 to 9 years old, multiple episodes of pancreatitis, and breeds like Samoyeds, Australian terriers, miniature schnauzers, miniature poodles, toy poodles, and pugs.


In many ways, the symptoms of canine diabetes mellitus are similar to its human counterpart. The time of onset, frequency, and severity of these symptoms differ from one dog to the next for obvious reasons. Many of the symptoms are also similar to other canine diseases, thus, emphasizing the importance of seeking a veterinarian’s definitive diagnosis of whatever underlying disease there may be.

Other diseases with similar symptoms as and can even occur together with diabetes mellitus include Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, acute pancreatitis, urinary tract infections, and cancer. The symptoms of diabetes mellitus in dogs include increased thirst and urination, obesity (in a few cases), cataracts that can lead to blindness, and unexplained weight loss even when the appetite is good with many dogs even experiencing increased appetite.


Canine diabetes mellitus has many causes including the abovementioned risk factors. First, genetics may play a role in its development in the same way that humans with a family history for the disease are also at risk. A healthy canine lifestyle involving proper diet and moderate exercise may help in lessening the risks for dogs as well.

Second, it may also be that the canine diabetes mellitus is activated by the immune system. In this case, the dog’s immune system works against the body particularly the pancreas. As a result, the pancreas suffers from impaired functioning related to insulin production.

Third, studies have also linked canine diabetes mellitus with the use of hormones and steroids. It is best to work with the veterinarian to take the necessary measures to lessen the risks for the metabolic disorder and still achieve the health goals for which the hormones and steroids were being administered.


Diabetes in dogs can be definitively diagnosed with the use of a multi-faceted approach. Medical history is noted to check for any of the abovementioned risk factors and observance of the symptoms. Laboratory examinations including urinalysis, urine culture, complete blood count, and chemistry panel are conducted.


At present, veterinary science has yet to identify a cure for diabetes mellitus in canines. Fortunately, it can be managed with a combination of a healthy diet, exercise, and medications particularly insulin. When all of these management options are adopted in the dog’s daily life as supervised by its owner, the canine’s life expectancy can be lengthened despite the serious complications that diabetes mellitus can bring.

The veterinarian will prescribe the number of insulin injections partly on the diet on one hand and on the energy output through exercise on the other hand. As such, two dogs on different exercise programs will have different amounts of insulin injected throughout the day.

In the same way, a dog that goes from being a couch potato to a moderate exerciser will have its insulin injection program revised to account for the changes in energy expenditure. In all these cases, consistency in exercise is of utmost importance.

The diet is strictly controlled in terms of quantity, quality, and timing. This way, the glucose levels in the bloodstream can be kept stable along with the use of insulin. Usually, diabetic dogs will be fed two times a day before the insulin injections are administered. The diet is typically high in insoluble fiber while treats are eliminated from the diet per the veterinarian’s instructions.

Insulin, the most commonly used in canine diabetes mellitus being Humulin-N or Novolin-N (NPH), injections are also provided. There are other types of insulin administered with differences in their sources, concentrations, duration of action, and frequency of administration.

The veterinarian is the only source of the correct amount of insulin injections as too little or too much of the hormone can lead to a diabetic coma and even death. However, it can take up to two months of trial and error as well as laboratory examinations before the best dosage for a particular dog can be determined.

The owner must have basic training on the administration of the insulin as well as the diet and exercise from the trained canine experts like the veterinarian and his staff. It cannot be overemphasized that the health of a diabetic dog lies in the performance of the responsibilities for management on the part of the owner.

The owners are also expected to monitor the glucose levels of their pet dogs with the use of special tools. These are the glucose monitor and special dipsticks. Glucose monitor measures blood glucose levels through a small blood sample. A small lancet pierces the skin with a tiny prick from which a drop of blood can be drawn for measuring purposes. Special dipsticks are used to check the dog’s urine for the presence of glucose.

Of course, the owner must also take note of any changes in behavior – eating, drinking, and urinating as well as unusual lethargy – that signal the need for insulin injections. But it is strongly recommended that any changes to insulin levels must be made only under the supervision of a veterinarian.

If good management of canine diabetes mellitus is not implemented, grave complications await the dog. These health complications include hypoglycemia, urinary tract infections, cataracts, atherosclerosis, and ketoacidosis as well as diabetic coma resulting in death.”