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Canine Diabetes: Making Sure Your Pup Lives A Healthy Life

canine diabetes

Glucose is an essential energy fuel that all body cells and organs require to function.  After food is digested, specific micro-nutrients are converted into glucose. If cells are starved of fuel, the body will break down fat and protein to provide for cellular metabolism.  Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, is in charge of glucose delivery. Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a chronic endocrine disorder where the glucose to insulin relationship is disconnected.  Canine Diabetes is not curable, but if diagnosed early and with appropriate maintenance, a dog can lead a long and healthy life.

Type 1 Diabetes

Unlike humans, dogs can only have Type 1 Diabetes. This is the form that prevents the body from being able to produce enough insulin.

Dogs That Are Predisposed To Diabetes

Certain factors predispose dogs to develop diabetes.

Some of these are:

  • Age – even though a dog can develop diabetes at any age, it is most commonly developed during their mid to senior years (5 – 8 years old)
  • Gender – Unspayed female dogs are two times more likely to develop diabetes than male dogs
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Obesity – obesity increases the risk of pancreatitis and transitional diabetes
  • Medications – such as long-term steroid use
  • Cushing’s Syndrome or other endocrine disorders – where the body produces excess cortisol may trigger the onset of diabetes

Breeds Predisposed To Developing Diabetes

Any breed of dog may develop diabetes, but certain breeds are more represented.

  • Miniature Poodle
  • Toy Poodle
  • Pug
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Yorkshire Terrier
  • Fox Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Dachshund
  • Siberian Husky

Clinical Signs and Symptoms

These signs, although not conclusive of diabetes, require investigation:

  • Recurrent infections
  • General, unexplained, weakness, or lethargy
  • Poor coat quality – never assume it’s just a dog skin allergy.
  • Cataracts
  • Unexplained seizures
  • Excessive thirst
  • Urinary accidents, even though they are housetrained.
  • Weight loss – due to the inability of the body to properly convert the necessary nutrients
  • Increased appetite – due to the cells requiring nutrients that they are not receiving

The Advanced Signs

If your dog presents with any of the following signs, they need urgent medical attention.

  • Complete loss of appetite
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Depression
  • Vomiting

Ignoring these signs will lead to serious health threats like ketoacidosis because the Diabetes Mellitus could’ve progressed to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). Ketoacidosis is life-threatening condition characterized by:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • A sweet-smelling breath

Treatment and Management

Some practical ways to manage diabetes are:

Careful Monitoring Of Glucose Levels

When your dog is first diagnosed, you will have to monitor the glucose levels several times a day. Once stabilized, it can be monitored less frequently.

A Well-Balanced Diet

A good quality, diabetic-specific dog food is recommended. This food will have the correct portions of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates necessary for the proper absorption of glucose. Food high in fat must be avoided (especially meat).


To avoid sudden spikes or drops in glucose levels, a moderate but consistent exercise routine must be maintained. A regular exercise routine will also help to maintain the dog’s weight as well as reduce stress levels.

Insulin Storage and Administration

A vial of insulin can be used for six to eight weeks. If refrigerated, it can be kept for four to six months, provided it has not been discolored. You need to learn how to administer the injectable insulin correctly, subcutaneously.

  • To prevent the glucose level from dropping, feed your pup before giving insulin.
  • Check that the insulin has not expired. Never use expired insulin.
  • Never use insulin if it has been frozen.
  • Depending on the type of insulin, roll it or gently shake the vial before drawing up the insulin. Hold the vile vertical to prevent drawing up air bubbles. Gently flick the syringe if there are to remove them. Never adjust the insulin dose without consulting your veterinarian.
  • If your dog does not hold still, get someone to help you. Do not attempt to inject an anxious dog by yourself.
  • Dispose of the syringe and needle safely in a sharp’s container (in a thick plastic container e.g., an old detergent container) or take them to the vet hospital to dispose of safely.

Need Advice and Care For Your Diabetic Canine? All Aboard Animal Hospital Is Here For You

Are you worried about your diabetic dog and looking for personalized care in a warm and friendly setting? All Aboard Animal Hospital offers medical and surgical care for dogs and cats. Situated in Pompano Beach/Fort Lauderdale, we can be contacted at 954-785-7780 Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm and Saturday 8 am to 2 pm. For more information, you can also look us up on Facebook and Instagram.


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