Frequently asked questions


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is generally caused by problems with an internal organ called the pancreas or by immunity problems.

The pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that keeps glucose (sugar) levels from becoming too high in the blood stream. If not enough insulin is produced, blood sugar stays too high. If insulin is produced by the pancreas but cannot act properly, glucose levels will be increased. Immune problems can cause destruction of the cells in the pancreas.

Sustained high glucose levels, called hyperglycemia, can cause damage to blood vessels, the heart, and the eyes. If hyperglycemia becomes chronic, this is diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

The main symptoms of diabetes are drinking and peeing excessively.  Sometimes weight loss occurs, although if your dog is overweight to start with, you may not notice the weight loss.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

If you notice your dog drinking or urinating more than usual, or if there is weight loss, please tell your vet.  A simple blood test can tell if the blood sugar is too high.  If the blood sugar remains too high, your pet has diabetes.  Your veterinarian will need to do several tests to confirm the diagnosis.

How is canine diabetes treated?

Your dog will need to have insulin shots, probably twice a day. The syringes are small and the needles are smaller. Dogs don't mind the shots at all and you will get used to them!

What causes diabetes in dogs?

Both genetic and environmental factors are important in canine diabetes. At least 50% of diabetic dogs have type 1 diabetes, very similar to type 1 diabetes in humans. Certain breeds are predisposed to developing diabetes due to genetic factors. Chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the internal organ called the pancreas) damages the pancreas and its ability to produce insulin. Chronic pancreatitis causes approximately 28% of canine diabetes cases. Environmental factors such as feeding of high-fat diets appear to cause pancreatitis and can cause diabetes in dogs.

Will my dog die from diabetes?

Diabetes can affect the health of your dog if it is not controlled by treatment. Generally, controlled diabetes will not affect the life span of your dog.

Is diabetes expensive to treat?

Treatment costs can vary depending on personal factors, but generally the cost is fairly low.  Insulin and syringes are the primary costs and are relatively inexpensive.  Monitoring your pet’s diabetes can also be done economically.  Of course, every dog should have regular veterinary examinations.

What if I don’t want to treat my dog?

Even older dogs with other health problems can be successfully treated for diabetes.  If you don’t treat your dog, he will eventually die.  If you cannot treat your dog for some reason, we highly encourage you to investigate re-homing your dog so that he can be treated.  Diabetes is not a death sentence. Please don't put your dog to sleep just because he develops diabetes.




This site is intended for information purposes only. Please consult your veterinarian about treatment for your diabetic dog.

©2006 RA Price MD