The Diabetic Dog, Recognizing Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

This article sets out to help pet owners to recognize the symptoms of diabetes in dogs and to understand about the differences between the two types of the disease.

Diabetes is a disease that is prevalent in many countries in Europe and in the United States. While most people associate this disease with humans, it is also a common disease among dogs. Just like their human counterparts, a diabetic dog requires special care including diet, medication and insulin injections. This is a life threatening disease to both humans and dogs.

Sadly, this is a disease which is difficult for pet owners to detect. This has to do with the lack of knowledge about the disease, and very few pet owners realize their beloved pet may be susceptible to the disease. Dogs are susceptible to both diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus (please see the end of this article for description and explanation of both types).

Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

1. Lethargic behavior

symptoms of diabetes in dogs

Lethargic behavior is a common symptom

This is a common symptom of many illnesses including diabetes. If your pet appears weak or tired, it is important to seek veterinarian care immediately. Lethargic behavior is a clear sign that an animal may be ill.

2. Consuming an excessive amount of water
Due to an increase in sugar levels in the blood, a dog will consume and excessive amount of water because the sugar cannot be metabolized properly. If your pet is drinking more water than normal, it is likely he will be diagnosed as diabetic. If your pet has reached this point, it is critical to seek veterinarian care. If sugar levels are too high, it can result in death.

3. Urination frequency or increase in amount of urine
Naturally, if your dog is drinking more water, he or she will urinate more frequently. Increased water consumption and urination are signs your pet is ill. While these two symptoms are not always an indication of being diabetic, it is likely your dog is suffering from this disease.

4. Weight loss or weight gain
Weight gain is a symptom of lethargy. As your pet’s activity decreases due to feeling weak or tired, your pet may experience an increase in weight gain. In many cases, a dog may lose its appetite and experience weight loss. Gaining or losing weight unexpectedly is a symptom of many other diseases. However, in combination with other symptoms, it may be a sign that your pet has become diabetic.

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Diabetes Insipidus

Both forms of the disease occur when the endocrine glands malfunction. Diabetes Insipidus occurs when the endocrine glands fail to produce sufficient Vasopressin. This is a crucial anti-diuretic hormone that controls the absorption of water in the kidneys. If you would like to read more about Vasopressin, please use the link to visit the article about in on ‘HowStuffWorks’ website.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus can present in two forms, Type 1 and Type 2. The disease is caused by an insulin deficiency, which controls blood sugar levels in the body. Diabetes mellitus is the most common form of the disease that both humans and dogs can acquire. In addition, it is the most dangerous form of diabetes.

  • Type 1: Typically referred to as juvenile diabetes, the disease presents early in the dog’s life. In some cases, proper diet and exercise will help control the disease. However, insulin injections may become necessary.
  • Type 2: The disease develops in a dog’s middle or seniors years. In most cases, affected animals will require insulin injections to help control blood sugar levels.

The Diabetic Dog

Unfortunately, just as this disease is on the rise in humans, the diabetic dog is becoming more common. While the disease is hereditary in some cases, most are due to poor diet and lack of exercise. Many pet owners feed their pets unhealthy “people food”. Many of these foods contain an excessive amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Excessive consumption of sugars can lead to a diabetic condition over time. A healthy diet, exercise and a watchful eye for the early symptoms of diabetes in dogs can prevent your dog from becoming a victim.


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