Canine Diabetes

dog on a weighing machine

Canine diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, is a common disease in dogs and is the result of inadequate insulin production.

“Canine diabetes is usually caused by an immune mediated attack on the pancreas, which is likely related to genetic predispositions,” said Dr. Audrey Cook, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. “It may also be secondary to chronic pancreatitis, or may occur in intact females following their heat cycle.”

Some predisposed breeds include the cairn terrier, the dachshund, and miniature poodles. Although these breeds have a higher incidence than others, all dogs have a chance of becoming affected.

Diabetes mellitus is known to cause excessive thirst and urination due to the high concentrations of glucose in the bloodstream. “Hunger is also a common symptom in the early stages of diabetes, followed by rapid weight loss,” said Dr. Cook. “Vision loss is sometimes reported.”

Glucose appears in the urine, and can predispose the patient to urinary tract infections. Left untreated, other signs such as vomiting, dehydration and lethargy are expected.

“It is usually recommended that the dog receives insulin by injection twice a day,” said Dr. Cook. “Unlike many human diabetics, we cannot manage this disease with diet or oral medications. Canine diabetes is generally irreversible, and dogs will need insulin therapy for the rest of their lives. However, if diabetesdevelops soon after a heat cycle, some females may undergo remission following a spay.”

Each diabetic dog varies, so you will need to consult with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate insulin dose and treatment regimen for your pet.

It is also important that insulin injections are administered properly, so it is advised to have your veterinarian instruct and observe you giving the insulin to your dog. At first you may be nervous giving your dog an injection, but you can quickly learn how to do this with very little stress for your pet or for you.

Another important part of diabetes management is ensuring that your dog follows a consistent, stable routine. “They should be fed two meals a day of a well-balanced, high quality diet,” said Dr. Cook,”and definitely no table scraps.”

Although diabetes mellitus can’t be cured, the condition can be successfully managed, helping your dog to lead a happy, active life.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.Stories can be viewed online at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to

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