Diabetes in dogs

A diabetic dog cannot move glucose into their cells to metabolise it for energy. In Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent), the pancreas produces insufficient insulin, whereas in Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin-dependent), the body’s cells do not respond appropriately to insulin.


The vast majority of dogs have Type 1 diabetes, which can be due to pancreatitis, genetic predisposition, immune dysfunction, adrenal disorders, or obesity. In a diabetic dog, glucose accumulates in the blood and urine, instead of fueling the body.


What are common diabetes signs in dogs?

Early signs include:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased appetite with weight loss
  • Dull haircoat

Intermediate to advanced signs include: 

  • Decreased activity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cataracts or sudden blindness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Seizures or collapse


How is diabetes managed in dogs?  

Diabetes management depends on the severity of signs and stage of disease. “Diabetic ketoacidosis” is a more advanced form of diabetes that often requires hospitalisation. Concurrent diseases should be addressed because they can affect treatment success. 

Diabetic dogs require lifelong, twice-daily insulin injections, but their insulin requirement may increase or decrease over time, so regular diagnostic testing and close observation are essential. 

Diabetes control also includes a palatable prescription diet, based on your dog’s body condition. Discussing a personalised management plan with your veterinarian is important for the best outcome for your dog.


What is the prognosis for dogs with diabetes?

The prognosis for dogs with diabetes depends on the disease stage and their treatment response. The mortality rate is higher in the first six months after diagnosis, due to concurrent diseases such as infections, pancreatitis, or ketoacidosis. Over the long term, well-controlled diabetic dogs can have a good quality of life, and a life expectancy similar to non-diabetic dogs. 

Increased thirst can be a sign of diabetes in dogs


Management tips for dogs with diabetes 


At-home needs include:

  • Strict consistency with feeding times and insulin injections
  • A palatable prescription diet
  • Monitoring appetite, drinking, urination, defecation, and weight
  • Watching for low blood glucose signs
  • Possible at-home blood or urine glucose testing

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog stops eating or shows signs of low blood glucose, such as lethargy, weakness, stumbling, seizures, tremors, or unconsciousness.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. Our services can even be pre-paid to help ease the financial burden at the time of your pet’s passing. 


To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give us a call on 1800 953 619 or visit our website goodbyegoodboy.com.au.



This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.