Can Dogs Get Diabetes?

For most, your dog quickly becomes the most cuddled and adored member of the family. You shower it with cuddles, left over food, and more presents than you give your partner. But can your dog also suffer with the same illnesses you can? Take diabetes: there are two types, but essentially it’s a condition that causes people’s blood sugar levels to become too high. It can lead to heart disease, kidney failure and blindness. Caution must be taken when managing diabetes because if left untreated the complications can be so severe! Can your beloved dog also suffer from diabetes?

Can Dogs Get Diabetes?


While many may assume diabetes is an illness that only humans suffer because it can be caused by lifestyle choices and environment, dogs can absolutely suffer from diabetes too. It may be due to genetic predispositions or their environment, but they too are at risk of developing diabetes.

Does My Dog Have Diabetes?

Diabetes can be a serious, debilitating illness, but how can you tell if your dog might have it? Has your dog’s appetite drastically increased (which I know is challenging when most dogs are always up for eating)? But is your dog losing weight, while its appetite seems to be climbing? Are they excessively thirsty and urinating more frequently? Have they also been suffering with a bladder or kidney infection? All of these symptoms could be signs of diabetes.

But what causes your dog to develop diabetes? Whilst the cause is unclear, certain traits seem to increase the dog’s chances of diabetes. If your dog is obese, or if it’s female, it’s much more likely to develop diabetes. Viral infections, pancreatitis and autoimmune disease increase a dog’s chances also. Plus, if your dog is old, aged over 7, their chances of diabetes is much higher.

Diagnosing diabetes must be done by a vet and the sooner it is done, the lesser the chances of serious problems. Your vet will perform a physical examination, radiographs and blood work, to look for enlarged liver, kidney stones, and high glucose levels. For detailed information, visit Diabetes in Dogs.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Diabetes?

So your dog has been successfully diagnosed, but how do you treat its diabetes? Treatment may be ongoing throughout their lifetime, to try and see them enjoy a normal quality of life. Insulin injections may be required, your vet can teach you how to administer them, but they may be required once or twice a day.

Your vet will also regularly measure your dog’s blood glucose levels. This will enable them to see how effective the insulin is being in curbing the disease. This may then lead to changes in the amount of insulin being administered.

Treatment will also entail changes to your dog’s diet and exercise. A consistent, high-fiber diet will need to be followed. Plus, regular exercise is essential. Dogs will need to be a healthy weight to help stave off the negative effects of diabetes.

Diabetes can be prevented with the right diet and exercise. But it can be a condition that dogs never fully recover from, requiring maintenance throughout their life. However, symptoms can be kept at bay with the right medication and treatment. Full recovery may be unavoidable, but management is absolutely achievable.

For first-hand accounts from owners, plus questions answered by in-house vets, read more about Diabetes in Dogs.

How Is Diabetes Similar in Dogs and Humans?

In many ways, there are lots of similarities in the way diabetes manifests itself in dogs and  humans. Some of those similarities are outlined below:

  • Both dogs and humans may be excessively thirsty and need to urinate frequently.

  • In both humans and dogs, diabetes can cause weight loss, even in conjunction with an increase in appetite.

  • Abdominal pain and vomiting can be a symptom of diabetes in both dogs and humans.

  • Slow and deep respiration can often be a sign of diabetes in dogs, humans and other animals.

How Is Diabetes Different in Dogs and Humans?

While yes, there are lots of ways diabetes manifests itself in similarly in dogs and humans, there are also several ways in which their symptoms are not quite the same. For example:

  • In dogs, it is easier to detect a sweet smell to their usually not so pleasant breath.

  • While both dogs and humans can suffer with mental dullness, it is much harder to identify this in your dog, who may be dopey by nature.

  • Coughing in dogs is a clearer sign of diabetes than in humans, who may cough for a variety of other reasons, from smoking to too much shouting on a Saturday night.

Case Study

Snickers was a mixed 9 1/2 year old. After 4 days of hospitalization, IV fluids and insulin jabs, he was sent home to try and manage the diabetes from home. The condition was serious and the owner understandably concerned for Snickers’ wellbeing. Fortunately, a regime of regular insulin, 7 units in the am and 4 units in the pm, saw Snickers get to a healthy weight and manage the diabetes effectively. Snickers lives an active, happy life and has helped show that regular insulin management from home can be an effective way to keep on top of your dog’s diabetes and ensure they still have a good quality of life!

Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd