Dog Diabetes – Everything You Need to Know About It

dog diabetes

Diabetes frequently occurs in dogs. In fact, it has reached epidemic proportions in both humans and canines.

It is estimated that the number of affected dogs in the United States has gone up by nearly 80% in the last decade. This means that nearly 1 out of every 300 dogs is likely to have this condition.

If your pet is showing signs of this disease, it can be an extremely distressing time for you.

Thankfully, advances in veterinary medicines can reduce fatality and can also help your dog live happily and comfortably for years to come.

In this guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about this issue.

Dog Diabetes Causes

Here are some common causes of canine diabetes:

Poor Diet and Lack of Exercise

Diets high in carbohydrates and unhealthy fats are some of the most common causes or risk factors behind the disease.

Such diets reduce the efficiency of insulin uptake from the blood plasma so that the pet’s body is unable to metabolize glucose properly. This can lead to weight gain and obesity.

High-fat diets also increase a dog’s propensity to developing pancreatitis which can lead to diabetes.

These risks grow further if your dog does not get adequate exercise every day.


Age can also be one of the risk factors. Type-II diabetes is more common in middle-aged and older dogs especially if they are overweight and fed high carbohydrate and high-fat diets.


Another risk factor is genes: the condition can also be inherited by dogs from their parents.

That is why it is important to buy your dog from a reputed breeder. Responsible breeders will not breed dogs diagnosed with it.

If it comes due to genetic or familial reasons, it is still important to note that the disease is still usually triggered by poor diets and environmental stressors.

Certain Breeds are more Susceptible

There is no definite reason as to why some dog breeds are more prone to it. Research shows that dog breeds like Samoyeds, Poodles, Pugs, and Mini Schnauzers are at a greater risk of developing the health issue. Check out the complete list of diabetes-prone dog breeds here.

On the other hand, dog breeds like German Shepherds, American Pit Bull Terriers, and Golden Retrievers are at a relatively lower risk .

How to Tell If My Dog has Diabetes? What are the Signs?

Dogs affected with the condition tend to show the following tell-tale signs of the disease:

  • Sudden increased thirst and increased water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Sticky urine due to high sugar content in it
  • Increased appetite
  • Rapid weight loss/weight gain
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Cataracts, which could progress to blindness.
  • In extreme cases, when the condition is left untreated, a dog could develop peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy can affect heart muscle function, blood pressure, bowel movements, hair growth, and nearly all systems and body functions.

Please see your vet right away if your pet shows the above symptoms.

Dog Diabetes Life Expectancy – How Long Can a Dog Live with Untreated Diabetes?

If you treat your dog right away as soon as s/he starts showing the signs of the disease, then there is no reason why your pet cannot live a healthy and fulfilling life.

Unfortunately, many dogs fail to receive insulin and a proper diet.

As a result, many do not make it past the first three months after the diagnosis.

It is important for pet parents to understand that once a dog is diagnosed with it, they will need lifelong insulin treatment along with strict diet control. Without these, a dog’s condition could deteriorate rapidly and could cause serious complications.

Dog Diabetes Diet

dog diabetes dietThe best diet for affected dogs consists of the following nutrients:

  • 5-15% healthy fats
  • 45-50% complex carbohydrates
  • 15-18% protein.

Avoid simple sugars in the diet. These include high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, molasses, honey, and glucose.

These days, many top dog food brands provide kibble and wet food specially formulated for dogs with this health issue to make things easier for pet parents. You can also speak to your vet for prescription food or learn to prepare the best homemade food that is nutritionally balanced and also lower in simple carbs.

Here are two popular dog food-brands:

Hills’ Science Diet Prescription Dog Diabetes Diet W/D

Hill’s Multi-Benefit dry dog food contains crude protein of 15%, fat 6%, and fiber 20%. The main ingredients in this high-quality food are chicken, corn, peanut hulls, soybean meal, and powdered cellulose. There is also a wet or canned version available.

Royal Canin

This is another popular and well-received brand. It contains rice, corn, chicken meal, wheat, chicken fat, and rice hulls. It has a crude protein content of 18%, with 7% fat and 12.6% fiber.


Dog diabetes is completely manageable provided your pet receives timely treatment followed by lifelong insulin therapy and nutritious food.

As a pet parent, it is important that you read up all that you can about this disease. This will help you provide your pet all the right care it needs.

Remember: diabetic dogs can live long and happy lives. They just need more care than non-diabetic ones.

We hope this brief guide gives you general information about dog diabetes and its management.

Good luck!

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