How To Care For A Dog With Diabetes

How To Care For A Dog With Diabetes

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Diabetes in dogs is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin.

After a dog eats, his digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose-which is carried into his cells by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When a dog does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, his blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia, which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems for a dog.

It is important to understand, however, that diabetes is considered a manageable disorder-and many diabetic dogs can lead happy, healthy lives.

Why Dogs Get Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, the form of the disease that strikes the young, is actually quite rare in companion animals when they reach middle-age or senior years.

Your dog is much more likely to develop Type II (adult-onset) diabetes around middle age or in his senior years, as a result of a lifestyle that has led to decreased production of insulin or the inability of his body to use it efficiently.

Obesity is far and away the biggest reason pets become diabetic.

You can help your dog stay trim by feeding him a portion controlled, moisture rich species-appropriate diet consisting primarily of a variety of unadulterated protein sources, healthy fats, veggies and fruit in moderation, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary.

Your pet has no biological requirement for grains or most other carbs. Carbs, which can be as much as 80 percent the ingredient content of processed pet food, turn into sugar in your pet’s body. Excess sugar in dogs leads to diabetes.

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Another lifestyle-related reason pets develop diabetes, one that often goes hand-in-hand with poor nutrition, is lack of physical activity.

Your dog needs regular aerobic exertion to help maintain a healthy weight and to keep his/her muscles in shape. Your pet should be getting 20 to 40 minutes of aerobic type exercise several days a week.


What Type of Diabetes Do Most Dogs Get?

Diabetes can be classified as either Type 1 (lack of insulin production) or Type II (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone.)
Diabetes in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide to Diabetes in Dogs

The most common form of the disease in young dogs is Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas is incapable of producing or secreting adequate levels of insulin. Dogs who have Type I require insulin therapy to survive. Type II diabetes is found in cats and senior dogs and is a lack of normal response to insulin.

What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?

Click Here for Symptoms that should be Investigated as they could be indicators that your dog has Diabetes.

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 What Causes Diabetes in Dogs?

The exact cause of diabetes is unknown. However, autoimmune disease, genetics, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can play a major role in the development of the disease.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Diabetes?

It is thought that obese dogs and female dogs may run a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life (6-9 years of age). Some breeds may also run a greater risk, including Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes can also be seen and is particularly prevalent in golden retrievers and keeshonds.
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Treating Canine Diabetes

A blood test that measures your dog’s blood glucose level is the most common diagnostic tool, but a high glucose level does not always mean diabetes. Because other diseases sometimes raise these levels, your vet may run additional tests to rule out such causes.

Once your dog is diagnosed, her veterinarian will obtain a “serial blood glucose–concentration curve” by measuring his/ her glucose level repeatedly over many hours. The results will help the vet choose an appropriate insulin, dose and dosing schedule.

Click Here For Information On Checking Your Dogs Blood Glucose Levels And Administrating Insulin


In addition to insulin treatment, if you have a dog with diabetes, you also need to take a holistic approach to manage all facets of your dog’s life in order to keep the glucose levels in check. In particular, it is extremely important to pay attention to your pet’s diet, supplements, exercise, and weight control.

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Diabetic Dog Diet

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The general guidelines for a healthy diabetic dog diet are:

1.Feeding the dog natural wholesome food in small doses, two or three times a day. Regular and small dosages will make it easier for the body to produce and utilize the sugar as well as the insulin.

2.Feeding time should be the same every day.

3.The amount of food should also be the same every day.

Foods to avoid:

1.Soft or semi-moist pet foods – Usually they contain a lot of sugar, preservatives, and artificial colors.

2.Fatty meats and excessive oil – Enzymes need to be produced especially for the breakdown of fat, thus digesting fatty meats puts extra stress on the pancreas.

3.High carb foods – If a dog diet is high in carbohydrates, they will eventually be broken down into sugar. Excess sugar in the blood can lead to diabetes.


A regular exercise program is important as it has the effect of decreasing insulin needs. However, irregular exercise will destabilize insulin needs, so the key is to:

1.Have the same amount of exercise every day;

2.Exercise at the same time of day;

3.Have the same duration of exercise time every day.

If there is a change in the daily exercise routine, diabetic dogs can become seriously hypoglycemic (dangerously low blood sugar level). As a precaution, therefore, always carry some sugar source with you when you take your diabetic dog out for exercise.

Weight Control

If your diabetic dog is obese, gradual weight loss is highly recommended. Weight loss may help to reduce your dog’s need for insulin. However, the key is to lose weight gradually. Rapid weight loss should be avoided.

Monitor your diabetic dog’s progress

Keeping a logbook can help you monitor your diabetic dog’s progress. Every day, record blood glucose test results; any ketone test results; changes in your dog’s appetite, weight, appearance, water intake, urination frequency or mood; and any treatment changes your veterinarian makes. A simple notebook, calendar or computer spreadsheet works well.

Among the things to watch for on a day-to-day basis are hyperglycemia, when blood glucose levels rise above the top end of the recommended normal level (ask your vet what this is for your dog; since perfect control isn’t always attainable with current methods, vets generally try to keep most dogs below 200 mg/dl), and hypoglycemia, when the level drops to 60 mg/dl or less.

Hyperglycemia can lead to ketoacidosis (harmful levels of ketones in the blood), which qualifies as an emergency, and you should call your vet right away. Symptoms include drinking lots of water, urinating frequently or copiously, loss of appetite, weakness, vomiting, lethargy, ketones in the urine, or—in the most serious situation—coma. Test strips are available to detect ketones in your dog’s urine, and you should report the presence of ketones to your veterinarian immediately, even if your dog has no other symptoms.

In hypoglycemia, a range of symptoms may be present, including restlessness, lethargy, confusion, weakness, wobbliness, lack of coordination, shivering, sweaty paws, seizures or coma. Test your dog’s blood glucose level if these symptoms appear. If it is below the recommended level, rub maple syrup, Karo syrup or tube cake frosting—high-sugar foods that are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream—on your dog’s gums and the inside of her cheek, then call your vet to report the episode and get further instructions.

Natural Supplements for Diabetes in Dogs


Supplements should be added to a diabetic dog diet to further help glucose metabolism in the body.

1.One important supplement is brewer’s yeast. The chromium in the yeast aids the body in using blood sugar more effectively. You can give one teaspoon to one tablespoon (depending on the size of your dog) of brewer’s yeast with each meal to your dog.

2.Vitamins C and E are also essential.

3.Herbs can also be used to help strengthen and support major body systems that have been weakened by diabetes. Dogs with diabetes are unlikely to be able to fully utilize nutrients; therefore, herbs that aid digestion and nutrient absorption will be beneficial to diabetic dogs. Dandelion leaf, alfalfa, and calendula are such herbs.

4.Some herbs are effective in maintaining and moderating blood sugar levels, such as dandelion root and burdock root.

5.Aloe vera and fenugreek seeds have also been found to be able to reduce blood sugar levels and stimulate insulin production in diabetic animals.

6.Garlic is another useful herb for diabetes in dogs. Garlic stimulates the stomach and intestines and increases digestive organ function.

7.Cinnamon may also be helpful for dogs with diabetes as it may improve how the body uses glucose by enhancing the action of insulin. Since cinnamon is also an antioxidant and is good for dogs, it does not hurt to sprinkle some cinnamon on your diabetic dog’s food on a regular basis.

8.Although not an herb, kelp, also with antioxidant properties, may be capable of helping the body in secreting insulin, thereby lowering the blood sugar levels.

Herbal Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats

Life-threatening complications of Pet Diabetes

Living With A Diabetic Dog: How To Keep Your Dog Healthy, Prevent Common Problems And Avoid Complications

When diabetes goes undiagnosed, or when it is difficult to control or regulate, the complication of diabetes ketoacidosis (DKA) can occur.

Click Here For Important Information On DKA

How Can I Prevent Pet Diabetes?

In both dogs and cats, diabetes is tied to obesity and age. If your pet is over 10 years old and weighs too much, he or she is at a higher risk for diabetes. To decrease this risk, you can work with your veterinarian to increase your pet’s exercise level and decrease his or her caloric intake.

Just like with people, if pets consume more calories than they exert, they will gain weight. However, not all calories are created equal. It’s best to choose higher protein foods, and many pet parents find that a grain-free pet food with natural ingredients helps prevent their pets from gaining weight.

Because a higher-protein diet can be more nutrient dense (as well as calorie dense), you may need to speak with your vet about decreasing your pet’s portion size when you transition foods.

Some vets say that a higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet may help prevent diabetes.

Food Bowl Tips

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Canine Diabetic Dry Food 1.5 Kg

Keep your dog fit and healthy by following these tips:

1.Ask your veterinarian if your dog’s body condition is ideal. If not, work with your vet to set up a weight loss plan to return him to that goal condition.

2.Read the food label for recommended daily portions based on your dog’s weight, and look at the package back for an illustration of a dog at ideal body condition to see if your dog matches up. It’s more important to feed your dog to his ideal body condition than to a certain weight.

3.Feed the dog, not the bowl. Use a measuring cup when scooping the dry food into the food bowl, so you know exactly how much you are serving. Get a smaller bowl if you think it looks too empty.

4.Perform a weekly check on your dog to make sure you can easily feel his ribs. Examine his profile to see if his abdomen is tucked behind the rib cage, and stand over him to see if he has a clearly defined waist behind the ribs.

5.Adjust the amount you serve your dog to maintain ideal body condition. No matter what he weighs, if body condition is at the ideal point, the weight will be acceptable.

Walking Tips For Your Dog

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Pair sound nutrition with regular fitness to keep your aging dog in shape.

1.Warm up your dog’s muscles by starting with a 5-minute slow pace. Then take a 10- to 15-minute brisk walk, ending with a 5-minute slow pace to cool down the muscles.

2.Keep your dog on a brisk pace for the majority of the walk, so that he trots rather than saunters. This gait exercises both sides of your dog’s body and provides him with a cardiovascular workout.

3.Aim for 20-minute daily walks rather than hour-long walks on weekends. A little exercise every day is better than a lot of exercise once or twice a week.


If you have any information,questions, or feedback you would like to include in this post.

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January 1, 2016 at 7:21 pm

I was not aware that dogs could get diabetes. My dog is part of the family, he is just another member and he is treated that way. Knowing that he could get diabetes makes me worry.

He is overweight even though we try to walk him every day. I am going to take your advise and start feeding him a portion controlled, with, veggies and fruit in moderation, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary.

Thank you for informing me about this your article was very helpful!


    January 1, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    Hi Juan,

    So glad you found this article helpful!

    I have two dogs myself a golden retriever and a chocolate lab.

    The lab has a huge appetite I have to feed them separately otherwise he will steal the other dogs food!


January 1, 2016 at 7:28 pm

This is a very comprehensive article on dog diabetes, how to identify if your dog may have diabetes, and how to treat diabetes if they do end up having diabetes. I have two dogs that I love dearly and, of course, I am always trying to keep them healthy. I will be sharing this with a friend that has a dog with skin irritation that just doesn’t go away. Supposedly her veterinarian has run every test on the dog but he hasn’t come to a conclusion yet. I will ask her if she has had the dog tested for diabetes. Thanks for sharing!



    January 1, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Hi Jess,

    Great to hear from a fellow dog lover ,so hope that your friend finds a solution for her dogs skin irritation soon.

    Please share this post with any people you know who have pets!

Claire williams

February 16, 2016 at 9:24 pm

My dog was diagnosed today I’m so glad I have found this info which has told me what to look for when I give him his first injection in the morning . Very informative post!


    February 18, 2016 at 9:57 am

    Hi Claire,

    So sorry to hear that your dog was just diagnosed with diabetes.

    I have dogs of my own who I love dearly so I understand how upset you must be feeling.

    I am so glad you find this post helpful and if you have any other questions about your dogs diabetes.

    You can send me an email or leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

    I would be happy to help you and your dog!


April 24, 2016 at 5:44 pm

Thank you for such a well informed and informative article on dog care with diabetes, I have noticed over the past ten years more dogs are having this disease then ever before, I strongly feel like people the food is the reason for this problem. I agree with you completely diet and exercise if very important for a dog or a person for that matter to be healthy, I found feeding my dog a all natural dog food free of all the things you share plus no gluten has given my dog a shinier coat of fur and more energy.


    April 25, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Studies have shown that a number of canine health issues stem from a poor diet of lower-quality ingredients and lack of exercise.

    Dogs can benefit from eating more natural dog food, whether you make it yourself or buy products from manufacturers that specialize in all-natural and organic food..

    People need to understand that feeding their pets commercial pet food is similar to feeding them fast food.

    Adopting an all-natural diet has many benefits, including Better digestion,Lower risk of illness or disease,Strengthening of immune system and organ function,Reduction in bad breath,Decrease in allergies, itching and licking at hot spots,Weight reduction and control,More energy and activity.

    If you plan to change your pets diet, be sure to gradually mix in the new food.

    Shocking your pets system by switching his/ her food overnight can cause stomach issues like diarrhea or vomiting.

    Slowly add in the new food with the old food so your pet can get used to it over a few days.

    Youll be surprised how quickly an all-natural diet can help improve your dogs overall health and appearance.

Amy J Smith

August 28, 2018 at 7:26 am

I just came across your article “”. I really loved reading the article.

Very informative article! Thank you for sharing such a great article.

It’s funny, I recently published a post called “Canine Diabetes – Symptoms, Effects And Treatment” Here is the link:

It might make a nice addition to your list. Either way, keep up the awesome work!

Amy J Smith

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