Diabetes With Coma in Dogs

Diabetes With Coma in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Diabetes With Coma?

 Though diabetes is a relatively common disease in canines, the problem of accompanying complications is less seen. Often, with insulin therapy, diabetes can be managed quite well in our pets. However, difficulties can arise that can cause our pets to become very ill. Urgent care is required and some pets arrive at the clinic in a comatose, or near comatose state. The list of pets predisposed to diabetes is very long, with some of the breeds being Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Beagles, Doberman Pinschers, Chow Chow, Dachshund, and West Highland Terrier. Females are affected more often than males.


When the pancreas is unable to regulate blood sugar, diabetes results. Once a dog is diagnosed with diabetes, the main protocol is to regulate the blood glucose levels. There can be cases of canine diabetes that occur with serious complications, resulting in issues like hyperglycemia and hyperosmolar coma.

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Symptoms of Diabetes With Coma in Dogs

 A dog with diabetes displays symptoms that are easily recognized.

  • Increased thirst (polydipsia)
  • Frequent urination (polyuria)
  • Increased appetite (polyphagia)
  • Weight loss (even though he is eating regularly)
  • Weakness

A dog with complications that can lead to coma will exhibit additional signs.

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Daze, confusion, and unresponsiveness
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Coma
  • Death



There are many types of disorders that can lead to diabetes with coma. Each one has specific causes that will lead your dog to a state of being unresponsive and comatose. If your pet is becoming extremely lethargic and moving in and out of consciousness, bring him to the veterinarian or emergency clinic without delay.

  • Insulin resistance
  • Insulin effectiveness
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetes
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Hyperglycemia

Causes of Diabetes With Coma in Dogs

Diabetes with coma results due to many factors that can have a crucial effect on your dog’s well-being. A few are listed below:

Insulin resistance

  • Hyperadrenocorticism
  • Infection such as in the urinary tract
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pancreatitis
  • Severe obesity
  • Neoplasia

Insulin effectiveness

  • Inactive insulin
  • Improper technique of giving your dog the insulin
  • Impaired insulin absorption

Diabetic ketoacidosis

  • Undiagnosed diabetes
  • Inadequate dosage of insulin
  • Ineffectiveness or resistance

Hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetes

  • Impaired glucose excretion in urine
  • Undiagnosed hyperglycemia


  • Dangerously low blood glucose
  • Too much insulin


  • Chronically high blood glucose

Diagnosis of Diabetes With Coma in Dogs

If you are at home and discover your dog is unresponsive, try to remain calm. If you are aware that he is diabetic, you can try rubbing corn syrup under his tongue or on the gum, in order to revive him. Once you have given him the corn syrup (a small amount only, as you do not want him to aspirate the liquid into his lungs due to the unconscious state), do not wait for him to come around. Bring him to the emergency clinic right away.


Informing your veterinarian of recent behaviors, and giving a timeline as to when the onset of symptoms began will be extremely helpful. You will need to let your veterinarian know the insulin schedule and dosage that you have been giving your dog, so be sure to bring any records you may have kept along with you.


The veterinarian will order a complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis. She will need to know the blood sugar and electrolyte levels in order to determine the problem and the relationship to diabetes. These tests will also give an indication as to whether there is an underlying condition, like pancreatitis perhaps, contributing to the comatose state. 

Treatment of Diabetes With Coma in Dogs

The veterinarian will begin intravenous therapy in an attempt to bring your pet back to consciousness. Fluid solutions designed to correct blood glucose (such as dextrose which is meant to eliminate clinical signs) and electrolyte balances, like potassium,  will be given. Your pet will need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, because 24 hour care is necessary for constant monitoring of glucose levels, and also the state of your pet’s health as time goes on. 


Your veterinarian will explain the process to you; glucose levels should be checked every hour to every two hours, as recovery progresses. Giving insulin too fast can cause more complications, and administering it too slow can impede recovery.


Once your pet is stabilised, your veterinarian will further her investigation into why the coma accompanying the diabetes is occurring. She may need to run additional tests to check for explanations for the problem such as underlying diseases, insulin resistance, or chronic hyperglycemia.


It should be noted that treatment for hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetes has a poor prognosis as renal failure is often present at time of diagnosis.

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Recovery of Diabetes With Coma in Dogs

 Follow-up care for a dog with diabetes is extensive. A dog with diabetes, in particular one who has experienced a coma, will require consistent monitoring and close care to ensure the risk of recurrence is nil if possible, or limited. Your veterinarian will advise you on what is required to keep your pet in good health.


Dietary needs, adequate nutrition, monitoring of appetite and weight, insulin regulation, verification of glucose levels, and checking of glucose curve via blood tests are all areas that need attention. You may feel overwhelmed by what seems to be exhaustive home care and veterinary follow-up, but with time, and the help of your qualified veterinary team, all will become second nature as you care for your furry canine companion.

Diabetes With Coma Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $300 - $8,000

Average Cost




Diabetes With Coma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals


Jack Russell




10 Years


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Vomiting Heavy Breathing Deep Slee
Hi my dogs is in a coma can he come out of it he has diabetes and ketonitus and pancresitus he is very severe and is not responding to pricks needles voice ect

March 20, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

1 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that is happeninng to Benji. Those are very serious conditions, individually, and he will need intensive, critical care to recover. I cannot predict whether he will recover, but if he is being treated in hospital, with intensive care, your veterinarian will be able to give you an updated prognosis. I wish him the best.

March 21, 2018

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Diabetes With Coma Average Cost

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