Canine diabetes is a chronic condition that affects dogs, and occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin or effectively use the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar levels.

When a dog has diabetes, the blood sugar levels become elevated, leading to various health issues if left unmanaged.

There are certain things you can change in your dog’s lifestyle to reduce their chances of becoming diabetic, but it is a manageable condition with proper veterinary care and owner commitment, and you can help your dog lead a happy and healthy life despite a diagnosis of diabetes.

Members of our Practice Plan receive unlimited consultations throughout the year – perfect for pets that need conditions such as arthritis monitoring and managing!

Symptoms of canine diabetes

Much like diabetes in humans, canine diabetes has a range of symptoms, including:

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Increased appetite, followed by weight loss
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Excessive panting
  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Cloudy eyes, due to cataracts
  • Recurrent infections, including of the urinary tract and skin
  • Difficulty walking or weakness in the hind legs

If your pet is showing signs of diabetes, book an appointment to see your vet.

How we can diagnose canine diabetes

If you suspect your dog has diabetes, it is important to consult one of our vets.

They will perform a thorough examination and may conduct the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Blood tests to measure blood glucose levels
  • Urine analysis to detect glucose and ketones
  • Fructosamine test to evaluate blood glucose control over the past few weeks

Treatment options

Once diagnosed, your vet will recommend an appropriate treatment plan, which may include one of a number of options.

Insulin therapy

Most dogs with diabetes require insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar levels. Your vet will prescribe the type of insulin, dosage and administration schedule that suits your dog’s needs. Insulin injections are usually given twice a day under the skin, and your vet will teach you how to administer them.

Dietary management

A consistent and balanced diet is crucial for managing diabetes in dogs. Your vet may recommend a special diabetic dog food or a diet plan that controls carbohydrate intake. Feeding times and portion sizes should be consistent.

Exercise and weight management

Regular exercise is important to help regulate blood sugar levels and maintain a healthy weight. Your vet will guide you on appropriate exercise routines for your dog’s condition. Obesity can worsen diabetes, so weight management is vital.

Monitoring blood glucose levels

Regular monitoring of your dog’s blood glucose levels is essential to assess the effectiveness of the treatment plan. Your vet will guide you on how to check blood glucose levels at home using a glucometer and provide recommendations for target ranges. We often use a blood test called fructosamine, which gives us an idea of what the blood glucose levels have been like over the previous two to three weeks.

Regular check-ups

Dogs with diabetes require ongoing veterinary care. Regular check-ups allow your veterinarian to monitor your dog’s progress, adjust the treatment plan if needed, and detect any complications early. Members of our Practice Plan Extra receive unlimited free consultations throughout the year.

Prevention and care

While there is no surefire way to prevent canine diabetes, certain measures can reduce the risk or manage the condition effectively:

  • Maintain a healthy weight for your dog
  • Feed a balanced and appropriate diet
  • Follow your vet’s advice regarding insulin administration and blood glucose monitoring
  • Attend regular veterinary check-ups to catch any potential issues early
  • Provide regular exercise to help manage weight and promote overall health