Did you know that dogs can have diabetes like humans can? Dogs can have one of two kinds – diabetes mellitus (“sugar diabetes”) or diabetes insipidus (“drinking diabetes”).
– Diabetes insipidus is a very rare disease in dogs that results in the dog’s body failing to regulate its water.
– Diabetes mellitus is much more common in dogs, and is frequently diagnosed in dogs over the age of 5. Type II diabetes (when the pancreas makes some insulin but not enough) is the most common type of diabetes in dogs.

What is diabetes mellitus?
It is a disease of the pancreas. The pancreas is a small organ that makes insulin and enzymes to help with digestion. Insulin is needed to regulate blood sugar. With type II diabetes mellitus, the pancreas does not make enough insulin, so the cells in the body do not get the sugar they need to function properly.

What are the signs of diabetes mellitus?
– Weight loss
– Increased appetite
– Increased water consumption
– Increased urination
– Increased risk of urinary tract infections

How is diabetes mellitus diagnosed?
– Signs of diabetes as noted above
– Blood glucose tests
– Urine testing (diabetic dogs will excrete the excess sugar in their urine, and this test can also help to diagnose urinary tract infections which are more common in diabetic patients).

How is diabetes mellitus treated?
– Injections of insulin after eating measured meals (twice daily is ideal)
– Prescription diets with high fiber and low sugar
– Critical cases may require hospitalization initially, but once your pet is stable, diabetes is controlled by medications given at home

It is very important to only give your pet insulin after eating and to bring them to the vet for their regular checkups. If too much insulin is given or it is given without food, your pet’s blood sugar can get dangerously low – this is called hypoglycemia and can be fatal.

Signs of hypoglycemia (dangerously low blood sugar)
– Lethargy
– Incoordination, especially when walking

Hypoglycemia must be treated immediately as it can be fatal. If you see the signs noted above, especially if it is 5 to 8 hours after giving insulin, give your pet some maple syrup, honey, or corn syrup on their gums and call your veterinarian without delay. Diabetic dogs, once controlled with diet and the proper dose of insulin, can live very normal and happy lives!

If you are concerned about your pets or have questions, please give our office a call or send us a text at (607) 733-6503. We are always happy to help!

Written by Rebecca, LVT