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How to Help Your Dog Through Diabetes

Does your dog suffer from diabetes? If so, they are not alone as canine diabetes mellitus has a reported hospital prevalence rate of 0.4–1.2%. Diabetes mellitus is a disease of the pancreas, where the body can no longer regulate blood sugar. This is the result of the pancreas’ inability to produce enough of the hormone insulin. Without sufficient insulin production, high blood glucose can have a negative overall effect on the body, including damage to body tissues. If left untreated, diabetes can have detrimental health effects, including:

  • Cataracts or blindness
  • Enlarged liver
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Ketoacidosis

If you think your dog could have diabetes mellitus, here are some of the common symptoms seen in canines:

  • Drinking lots/increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Low energy
  • Chronic or recurring infections
  • Vomiting

If you feel that your dog may have diabetes, consult your veterinarian. Only a simple blood glucose test is needed for diagnosis.

Fortunately, diabetes is not a fatal disease if managed correctly. Here is a short list of ways to help keep your diabetic canine happy and healthy:

Insulin injections

Since your dog’s pancreas can no longer produce enough of its own insulin, it is now your job to step in. Once your dog has been diagnosed, you can purchase insulin from your veterinarian. Insulin can either be given as an oral medication or by injection, depending on the type of diabetes your dog has. Injections are the most common type of insulin treatment and are usually required twice per day. Fear not though! These injections are relatively easy to administer, click here for a demonstration on how to safely administer insulin by injection.


What your dog eats greatly affects the level of glucose in their body. For dogs with diabetes, consistency is key. Feed them the same amount at the same times every day. This will help to promote consistency within the body. Try feeding your dog low-fat, food with high fibre. This will decrease the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Grain free diets can also be beneficial for dogs with diabetes as they contain more fibre and less available sugars.


We know that it sounds like exercise seems to be the magical cure for any disease, but in the case of diabetes this is especially true. Exercise helps to reduce the amount of free blood glucose as the body is using it for energy. Getting your dog out and moving will help avoid sudden spikes or drops in glucose levels.

If your dog has diabetes, the best thing to do is work with your veterinarian to lay out a course of treatment. If managed properly, diabetes should not influence your dog’s quality of life.

Appenzeller Sennenhund on leash walking through grass
Appenzeller Sennenhund on leash walking through grass

View Sources

AKC “Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment” 2016.

Rucinsky, Renee, Audrey Cook, Steve Haley, Richard Nelson, Debra L. Zoran, and Melanie Poundstone. "AAHA diabetes management guidelines for dogs and cats." Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association 46, no. 3 (2010): 215-224.

Hess, Rebecka S., and Cynthia R. Ward. "Effect of insulin dosage on glycemic response in dogs with diabetes mellitus: 221 cases (1993–1998)." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 216, no. 2 (2000): 217-211.

Rand, Jacquie S. "Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats." Clinical Small Animal Internal Medicine (2020): 93-102.

Fleeman, L. M., and J. S. Rand. "Diabetes mellitus: Nutritional strategies." Encyclopedia of Canine Clinical Nutrition. International Veterinary Information Service, Ithaca, NY. A 4206 (2008).

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February 20, 2024
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