Caring For A Diabetic Dog

You have had your dog now for around five years and all things considered he is the dog of your dreams. You have gone through the basic training and even some of the advanced training and it now seems your dog is settling down, however lately you have noticed some changes.  He doesn’t seem to have the get up and go like he normally has.  He is getting older but he is not that old yet that he should be displaying such a lack of energy.  He also seems to have an insatiable thirst.  A trip to the vets just might be in order.

caring for a diabetic dog
Tired Dog

After running some tests on your dog your vet informs you that your dog has diabetes.  This is not what you were expecting. Could you have prevented this?  Were there signs that you missed?  What do you do now?

Signs of a Diabetic Dog

You may have noticed some changes in your dog but you just did not associate them with your dog having diabetes.  Following are some signs that your dog may have diabetes:

  1. Excessive thirst
  2. Notice a change in their appetite
  3. Weight loss
  4. Peeing a lot
  5. Breath smells sweet or fruity
  6. Lack of energy
  7. Dehydration
  8. Urinary tract infections
  9. Vomiting
  10. Blindness
  11. Numerous skin infections

Although dogs can get diabetes at a young age the norm is around 5 to 6 years of age.  So why did your dog get diabetes?  Are some breeds more prone to getting diabetes than others?  Is gender a factor?

Cause of Diabetes In Dogs

Weight – Just like people our furry companions can get diabetes.  One factor that can contribute to this is weight.  Just like a person if a dog is overweight the weight puts more pressure on the body’s proper use of insulin which is to control the dog’s blood sugar levels.  The outcome can sometimes be diabetes.

caring for a diabetic dog
Fat Dog

Age – As mentioned earlier as a dog ages diabetes can become an issue.  Although young dogs can get diabetes usually a dog is 5 years of age or older when they are diagnosed.

Gender – This is a rather tricky one.  Females who are not spayed are twice as likely to have diabetes compared to a male dog.  This is tricky because a female dog may only be diabetic when she is in heat.  After her heat cycle is over her numbers return to normal.  This has to be managed very carefully or the dog could die.  Many owners when they find out what is going on will have their dog spayed.

Pancreatitis – Causes damage to the pancreas which in turn can cause diabetes.

Medications – Steroid medications have many side effects, one of them being diabetes.  If the medication is used short term often the diabetes will disappear.  Long term use however may result in having diabetes permanently.  Any dog who is on long term use of steroid medication should be monitored by their vet on a regular basis.  To prevent some of the side effects of the steroid medication you and your vet could look for alternative treatment.

caring for a diabetic dog

Purebred vs Crossbred – Studies have shown that crossbreeds and purebreds have the same chance of getting diabetes.

Genetics – Some breeds do have a higher risk for diabetes.  They include the Miniature Poodle, Samoyeds, Schnauzers, Keeshonds, Australian Terriers, Beagles, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Bichon Frise, Pugs, Dachshunds and Puli.

Golden Retrievers and Keeshonds are also prone to juvenile diabetes.  Juvenile diabetes happens when the pancreas does not develop normally as a puppy.

Cushing’s – When a dog gets Cushing’s disease his body is producing too much steroids internally thus possibly causing diabetes.

Now that we know some of the things that may cause diabetes in our beloved furry companions what can we do about it?

Well one of the first things we should do after finding out our dog is diabetic is to take a good look at what we are feeding him.

Feeding a Diabetic Dog

Just like a person who has diabetes dogs need to watch what they eat or should I say you need to watch what you are feeding them.  It is your responsibility to monitor their diet so they can live a long and healthy life.

caring for a diabetic dog
Dog Eating

Just remember that your dog is probably going to be taking insulin to help control his diabetes.  A high fiber, low-fat diet will help your dog feel full while consuming less calories.  This will be especially good if your dog is overweight as it will help him to shed those extra pounds.  Make sure your dog has access to fresh water as a high fiber diet can cause constipation and water can help with that.

Managing Insulin Injections

Your vet will have run tests so you will know how much insulin your dog is going to need.  You will probably need to administer the insulin by needle twice a day.  Also check out any other medications your dog is on to make sure they do not interfere with the insulin.  You may need to make some changes to other medications that your dog is on.

You will need to monitor your dog very closely especially when you first start with the insulin.  Too much insulin can actually endanger his life.  Symptoms to watch for are:

  1. Shaking
  2. Seizures
  3. Dizziness
  4. Falling
  5. Lethargy
  6. Unsteady gait

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms you need to get him to the vets immediately.

Another part of your dog’s lifestyle that should be part of his daily routine is exercise.  Being active actually helps your dog manage his diabetes.  Not much different than a human.

There will be times that your dog’s diabetes could be a concern. One such time that pops into my head is if you are going away and need to board your dog.  Not all kennels are experienced when it comes to managing a diabetic dog.  So make sure you do your do diligence when looking for a boarding facility.  Better yet maybe another family member or friend could come in to look after your dog.

Other than that with a proper diet, plenty of exercise and the proper medication your diabetic dog can lead a relatively normal life.

caring for a diabetic dog
diabetic dog playing



For more information on other dog health issues check out the following:

The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health


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