Diabetes Mellitus In Dogs – TheDiabetesCouncil.com


Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that affects the pancreas. The pancreas produces insulin and also the enzymes that are necessary for the proper digestion. When the pancreas does not produce the insulin for a dog, blood sugars are not regulated and the dog has diabetes. The blood glucose becomes elevated and the dog’s system is unable to produce the energy from the source.

Diabetes Mellitus happens in 1 of every 300 dogs and cats. Most often, this chronic condition is found in dogs that are middle aged and obese. Females are affected roughly twice as often as their male counterparts.  Certain viruses can cause damage to the pancreas and ultimately cause Diabetes Mellitus.

Although any breed could become affected by Diabetes Mellitus, it is more common in the small breeds of canines.

Clinical Signs


Glucose is needed to be absorbed by cells, when this does not happen, the cells cannot produce the needed energy. This is seen by a few different signs. Increased thirst is the first. The dog will seem to be drinking water almost constantly.

Increased urination is likely due to the increased intake of water to stave off the thirst. The dog will be attempting to eliminate the excess glucose by urination. Weight loss becomes noticeable because the cells are not obtaining the glucose to provide the energy. Increased hunger will happen as the dog continues to want more energy and the instinct tells him that he gets the energy through his food.

Without the insulin produced by the pancreas, the body is not able to get the glucose into the bloodstream and this then causes hyperglycemia. Without the glucose, the body is starved. As this happens, the body breaks down any storage of fat and proteins for energy and this causes weight loss. Many dogs also experience developing cataracts when the Diabetes Mellitus is undiagnosed. 

The Three Types of Diabetes Mellitus


For the canine, there are three types of Diabetes Mellitus. All three types stem from the inability to regulate blood sugar. However, the basic mechanisms differ in all three types.

Type 1

This type is considered to be the insulin dependent form. This results from the complete or almost complete destruction of the insulin producing cells. With this type of diabetes mellitus, the dog will require insulin injections which will then stabilize the blood sugar. This is considered the most common type.

Type 2

With Type 2, there are still some insulin producing abilities remaining. However, even with those still there, it is an insufficient amount of insulin produced. There may be a delayed response in secreting it, or the body is basically resistant to insulin.

This type of Diabetes Mellitus generally occurs in older and overweight canines. Contrary to humans, the dog is unable to benefit from oral medication. The canine will require some insulin by injection.

Type 3

This type of Diabetes Mellitus is quite similar to gestational diabetes. The insulin resistance of this type is generally caused by hormones and is often due to pregnancy or hormone secreting and related tumors.



In order to determine if the canine does have Diabetes Mellitus, not only will the clinical signs be evident, a constantly high level of glucose in both the urine and also in the blood. The dog with normal blood glucose levels will not have any glucose in the urine. The dog with diabetes will have too much glucose in the urine due to the kidneys removing what it considers to be an excess amount.

The Veterinarian will diagnose diabetes mellitus by looking for the clinical signs and quite possible blood and urine testing. There are often times when there is no sign in the urinalysis, this is when it is highly suggested to run urine cultures. The Diabetes Mellitus symptoms may not show immediately in a urine test, but the culture will be able to identify the abnormality.

Treatment for Dogs


Dogs who have Diabetes Mellitus will require one or two insulin injections per day. The dog will also require a diet of proper nutrition daily. The two together work in conjunction to maintain blood glucose. This means that the dog will need to be fed the same amount of the same food, at the same time each day.

Dogs with Diabetes Mellitus should be fed twice daily to coincide with the insulin. The daily intake of recommended calories should be divided into the two meals. If the dog receives a snack, this too needs to be included in the daily caloric count.

If you find that your dog does not eat the entire meal, then the insulin given should be half the normal dosage. If the dog does not eat the next meal entirely, contact should be made with the Veterinarian immediately so that he or she can determine the issue causing this.

This type of disease in a dog requires commitment to regulate the glucose. This commitment is not just financial, it will also be a personal commitment to a member of your family. Accidentally forgetting a treatment once will likely not do too much, however, it is extremely important that you make the time to give the dog the insulin as often and as many times as the Veterinarian states.

This includes if you go on vacation or are gone overnight on a business trip. You need to remain vigilant about making sure the dog gets the insulin. If that means calling in family members, hiring a pet sitter or boarding the dog overnight in a trained facility.

If there are any other medical conditions with the dog, these should be addressed concurrently with the diabetes mellitus. As with humans, one can affect the other and vice versa. Diabetes Mellitus will be easier to regulate when all known conditions are out in the open.

Concurrent medical conditions could cause insulin resistance by causing the release of inflammatory mediators. These mediators can interact with the action of insulin or even by the release of adrenal hormones. The most common concurrent issues could include Urinary Tract infections, pancreatitis, hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease.

Exercise is another vital element to treat dogs with Diabetes Mellitus. The dog should be allowed to run outside a few times a day. Taking walks with your dog will help ensure the dog is getting enough exercise and not just laying out in the sun. Exercise can help to lower insulin requirements and help with glycemic control.

Financial Aspects


First, the financial aspect should have no impact on if the dog receives treatment. When you take in a canine, the dog becomes part of the family and should be treated as such. Medically speaking, people do what needs to be done to care for family members, no matter the cost. The same should be done for pets.

Financially speaking, the cost may, at first, be relatively expensive. The dog will need to be kept at the Veterinarian Hospital for a night or two. This is done so they can regulate the glucose level in the blood, they will also begin treatments. Keeping the dog will enable the Veterinarian to monitor the dog and the reactions to insulin. Once the glucose level is maintained and regulated, the costs will not be as extreme.

Home monitoring is also going to be recommended. The glucose meters are available, you may also need to monitor the urine. It could take up to a month or more to obtain regulated glucose levels.

If, for some reason, the dog develops complications, the financial cost may increase again. However, with consistent and routine care, the dog should experience no complications. When the complications do arise, it is generally due to the inconsistencies of insulin given at regular intervals, feeding the same time each day, with the same foods.



Once the glucose is regulated, and the proper care is given consistently, the prognosis is good. When feeding, medications and monitoring are all done consistently, the dog will continue to live a healthy and happy life. The dog may not even show signs of Diabetes Mellitus once the glucose levels are regulated.



Ketoacidosis is a serious complication of Diabetes Mellitus. This should be considered to be a medical emergency for the dog. Treatment for ketoacidosis will include IV drip solutions, lactated ringers solution to administer crystalline zinc, (insulin). The dog will likely be given electrolytes that will help to regulate potassium and other levels. This will also help to identify any other new conditions such as Pancreatitis or other infections.

Once the canine is regulated again, future monitoring should be done at least every four months to six months, unless other complications arise. If there are other signs or symptoms of complications, the dog should be immediately taken to the nearest Veterinary Hospital for immediate treatment.



This could be a frustrating time for the dog, and for the owner. However, remember the dog is family and this is what you would want done for any other member of your family, including you.

Once the glucose is regulated, treatment becomes routine and does not have a drastic impact on time or finances.

Author: Bella West