Why do dogs get diabetes? Understanding the Causes

Dogs are one of the most beloved pets of humans, and they often become a part of the family. However, just like humans, dogs can suffer from many diseases, including diabetes.

In this article, we will discuss why dogs get diabetes, its causes, symptoms, and treatment. We will also address some of the most commonly asked questions related to this disease.

What is diabetes in dogs?

Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to produce adequate insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it does produce. Insulin is a hormone responsible for regulating the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood.

If your dog has diabetes, his blood sugar levels will be persistently high, which can cause various health issues such as a weakened immune system, cardiovascular diseases, and nerve damage. If left untreated, diabetes in dogs can be life-threatening.

What causes diabetes in dogs?

Diabetes in dogs can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Genetics: Some dog breeds, such as poodles, dachshunds, and beagles, are more prone to developing diabetes due to their genetic makeup.
  • Obesity: Being overweight puts extra pressure on the pancreas, which can cause it to wear out faster and become less efficient at producing insulin.
  • Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, can damage the cells that produce insulin. This can lead to a reduction in insulin production.
  • Cushing’s disease: This disease occurs when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, a hormone that increases blood sugar levels.
  • Other health conditions: Some diseases or conditions, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, can affect insulin production or cause insulin resistance.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

The symptoms of diabetes in dogs include:

  • Increased thirst: Dogs with diabetes may drink more water than usual.
  • Increased urination: Since dogs with diabetes are drinking more water, they will urinate more frequently.
  • Increased appetite: Despite eating more than usual, dogs with diabetes may still lose weight.
  • Weight loss: This occurs despite your dog eating more food, as the body is unable to use the glucose in the food as fuel.
  • Lethargy: Dogs with diabetes may become less active and sleep more.
  • Vomiting: In severe cases, dogs with diabetes may experience vomiting or diarrhea.

How is diabetes in dogs diagnosed?

To diagnose diabetes in dogs, your veterinarian will perform certain tests, including:

  • Urinalysis: This test checks for the presence of glucose in the urine.
  • Blood glucose test: This test measures the level of glucose in the blood. Your dog may need to fast for several hours prior to the test.
  • Fructosamine test: This test evaluates the average blood glucose levels over the past few weeks.

How is diabetes in dogs treated?

The primary goal of treating diabetes in dogs is to regulate their blood sugar levels, which can be achieved through:

  • Insulin therapy: Dogs with diabetes require insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar levels. This can take some time to get right, and your veterinarian will need to adjust the dosage until your dog’s blood sugar levels stabilize.
  • Dietary changes: A high-fiber, low-fat diet can help manage diabetes in dogs. Additionally, feeding your dog at regular intervals can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise can help regulate blood sugar levels and contribute to weight loss, which can help manage diabetes.

Can diabetes in dogs be prevented?

While there is no foolproof way to prevent diabetes in dogs, you can reduce the risk by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can prevent obesity, which is a significant risk factor for diabetes.
  • Maintaining a healthy diet: Feeding your dog a healthy, balanced diet can help prevent obesity and reduce the risk of other diseases that can contribute to diabetes.
  • Regular check-ups: Regular visits to the veterinarian can help identify any health issues early on and prevent them from worsening.

What is the prognosis for dogs with diabetes?

With proper treatment and management, dogs with diabetes can lead a long, happy life. However, diabetes is a chronic condition that requires ongoing management, and your dog will require insulin injections for the rest of his life.

What should I do if I suspect my dog has diabetes?

If you suspect your dog has diabetes, it is essential to seek veterinary care immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life and reduce the risk of complications.


Diabetes is a serious condition that can affect dogs of any age, breed, or gender. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent diabetes in dogs, maintaining a healthy weight, diet, and regular check-ups with your veterinarian can reduce the risk.

If your dog has diabetes, proper management and regular care can help him lead a happy, healthy life. With the right treatment, dogs with diabetes can live for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is diabetes in dogs contagious?
    No, diabetes in dogs is not contagious and cannot be spread from one dog to another.
  • Can my dog live a normal life with diabetes?
    Yes, with proper management and care, dogs with diabetes can lead a normal, happy life.
  • Can diabetes in dogs be cured?
    There is no cure for diabetes in dogs. However, with proper management and care, dogs with diabetes can live a long, healthy life.
  • Can diabetes in dogs be treated with medication?
    No, diabetes in dogs cannot be treated with medication alone. Insulin injections are required to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • What is the cost of treating diabetes in dogs?
    The cost of treating diabetes in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the type of treatment required. However, it is generally an expensive undertaking, and pet insurance can be helpful.


1. “Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats.” Merck Veterinary Manual, 2021, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/endocrine-system/diabetes-mellitus/diabetes-mellitus-in-dogs-and-cats.

2. “Diabetes in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Diet.” Nutri-Vet, 2021, https://www.nutri-vet.com/blogs/blog/diabetes-in-dogs-symptoms-causes-treatment-and-diet.

3. “Canine Diabetes.” American Kennel Club, 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/canine-diabetes-symptoms-treatment/.

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