Diabetes In Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Diabetes is a severe condition that sadly affects a number of our precious pooches. Find out everything you need to know about diabetes in dogs in this blog.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that not only affects dogs, but cats and other animals too such as apes, horses and pigs, and of course, humans. Although the disease does not have a cure, it can be managed through proper care and medical attention.

What is diabetes?

Before we get into the specifics, let’s first take a look at the connection between glucose and insulin, this will help you to get a good understanding of the disease.


This is the sugar found in your blood and is essential for energy. When your dog eats their food, their body digests it and breaks down some of the nutrients into glucose. The body then absorbs the glucose from the intestines, moving it into the blood and then transporting it throughout the body.


The pancreas releases this hormone into the body. Insulin then acts as a key to allow the glucose to be used by the cells for energy.

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Different types of diabetes in dogs

When diabetes emerges, it is because your pet’s body is not using this connection between glucose and insulin correctly. There are 2 different types of diabetes.

Type 1, which is what the majority of dogs suffer from, is when the pancreas cannot produce insulin and your dog will then depend on insulin treatments for her entire life. This is known as insulin-deficiency diabetes.

Type 2 is when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body does not respond to it correctly. This is known as insulin-resistance diabetes. Did you know that female dogs who are pregnant or in heat can suffer from temporary insulin resistance?

What damage does diabetes do to the body?

Both types of diabetes have the same adverse effects on your dog’s body. Basically, excess sugar will begin to accumulate in your dog’s bloodstream, but the cells cannot access this sugar.

The effect of this is twofold:

Firstly, the body starts to use proteins and fats as an alternative fuel in the place of glucose.

Secondly, the high sugar levels in the bloodstream result in damage done to the organs as high blood sugar acts as a form of poison to the body, leading to multi-organ damage. The organs that are commonly affected include the heart, eyes, nerves, kidneys, or blood vessels.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

Increased urination – This is because the body is attempting to rid itself of the excess sugar through the urine, along with water as this bonds to glucose.

Excessive thirst – This a tied to increased urination.

Increased appetite – This is due to the cells not getting the glucose they need.

Weight loss – This is because the body cannot use glucose from food for energy.

How is diabetes in dogs diagnosed?

Your vet is likely to take a blood test which will detect if there are high levels of glucose in the blood. If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, then this is also a clear indication that your dog is diabetic.

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What is the treatment for diabetes in dogs?

Your vet will establish the right dosage of insulin your dog needs. Most dogs will need two injections a day, one in the morning and one in the evening after eating. Your vet might also ask that you test your dog’s blood glucose levels by taking a small drop of blood using a pinprick.

It’s vital that you stick to the treatment plan and ensure your dog receives his daily injections as well as the right amount and type of food, as advised by your vet.

I don’t know how to inject my dog with insulin?

Before you start stressing as to how you are going to inject your dog twice a day, take a breath. Your vet will guide you through the entire process and give you a set of clear instructions for you to follow. You will soon get the hang of it.

What are the long-term health risks of diabetes?

With the correct treatment plan and medication, your dog will be able to live an active and happy life. There are some health concerns associated with diabetes, such as cataracts, and urinary tract infections. Diabetic dogs should also have their teeth regularly cleaned to avoid any infections in the mouth.

Diabetes and pet insurance

If you are wondering whether pet insurance will cover the medications for your diabetic dog, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. We always recommend Oneplan Pet Insurance to anyone looking for affordable cover with valuable benefits.

One of the reasons we love Oneplan is that they cover diabetes (and other hereditary & congenital conditions) after a waiting period of 12 months. And considering diabetes is a life-long condition – and one that requires costly medical care – 12 months isn’t that long in the scheme of things.

This means that if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to wait 12 months before you can claim for any medical bills relating to the condition. You can still claim for other medical bills and events during this time. Did we mention Oneplan also lets you go to ANY vet of your choice and pays you BEFORE you see the vet?

If your dog is diabetic, then we hope you find the right vet and the right treatment plan for your precious pooch and that you are both able to frolic through the daisies for years to come.

Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,

The Petinsurance.co.za Team