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Signs Your Dog Could Have Diabetes: Increased Thirst, Weight Loss, Poor Healing (2024)

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symptoms of diabetes in dogsSpotting the symptoms of diabetes in dogs is crucial for their well-being.

Increased thirst,

weight loss despite a healthy appetite,

and poor healing are telltale signs.

Understanding these symptoms can help you act promptly, ensuring your dog receives timely care.

Early diagnosis and proper management can significantly improve their quality of life.

Let’s delve into the signs of diabetes in dogs and how to recognize them.

Table Of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Diabetes in dogs causes increased thirst, frequent urination, weight loss despite increased appetite, and cloudy eyes due to cataracts.
  • Risk factors for canine diabetes include age, breed, obesity, chronic pancreatitis, and unspayed female dogs.
  • Advanced symptoms of diabetes in dogs may include insatiable appetite despite weight loss, loss of appetite, lack of energy, vomiting, kidney failure, ketoacidosis, vision complications, and skin conditions.
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a severe complication of diabetes with extremely high blood sugar levels, ketone production, and acidic blood, leading to vomiting, lethargy, poor appetite, and rapid breathing.

Recognizing Signs of Diabetes in Dogs

Recognizing Signs of Diabetes in Dogs
Have you noticed your dog drinking more water lately or having accidents in the house?

Excessive thirst and urination are common indicators of possible diabetes, along with perplexing weight loss despite a hearty appetite.

Cloudy eyes, chronic skin infections that won’t heal, and other troubling signs could also point to your dog having diabetes.

Increased Thirst and Urination

With a diabetic dog, you’re likely to notice:

  • An increase in thirst
  • Frequent urination

These are responses to the excess glucose being excreted in its urine.

As a caregiver, watch for:

  • Excessive drinking
  • Excessive peeing

These signal surplus glucose passing through urine.


  • Water intake
  • Urination

To gauge hydration needs.

Consult your vet if:

  • Thirst or urination patterns seem abnormal

Weight Loss Despite Increased Appetite

Your dog frequently losing weight despite eating more often signals a possible imbalance in insulin production that’s preventing proper glucose absorption for energy.

This imbalance inhibits his body from accessing nutrition, so weight drops even as appetite rises.

Consulting your veterinarian for bloodwork allows definitive diagnosis, effective treatment, and attentive weight management for your dog’s wellbeing.

Careful monitoring of appetite fluctuations, energy levels, vision changes, coat health, and healing processes helps manage diabetes and maintain your pet’s happiness.

Cloudy Eyes (Cataracts)

With diabetes, you’ll likely notice your dog developing:

  • Cloudy eyes from cataracts that obstruct his vision.
  • Up to 80% of diabetic dogs get cataracts as excess glucose causes overproduction of sorbitol.

Consult your vet about:

  • Cataract prevention.
  • Nutritional support for eye health.
  • Adapting as vision loss progresses.

Though prognosis worsens with blindness, dogs readily adjust using heightened hearing and smell.

Regular examinations aid prompt diabetes and cataract detection for the best outcome.

Chronic Infections and Poor Healing

When your dog has diabetes, chronic infections and poor healing can signal that something is wrong.

High blood sugar impairs your dog’s immune response and healing process, compromising infection control and wound healing.

This interferes with tissue repair and delays the healing process.

Careful monitoring of blood sugar levels and diligent insulin therapy can help normalize your dog’s immune response and healing capabilities.

With proper diabetes management, your dog can live a happy and relatively normal life despite the disease.

Risk Factors and Diagnosis of Canine Diabetes

Risk Factors and Diagnosis of Canine Diabetes
You may notice your older or unspayed female dog showing signs of increased thirst and urination.

These symptoms, along with obesity, chronic pancreatitis, or long-term steroid use, are risk factors for diabetes in dogs.

Your veterinarian can run blood and urine tests to definitively diagnose diabetes in your canine companion.

Age and Breed

Consider your dog’s age and breed when evaluating their risk for developing diabetes, as certain groups are more prone to the disease.

Veterinarians rely on diagnostic tests to confirm diabetes in dogs exhibiting concerning symptoms like increased thirst, weight loss, and poor healing.

Middle-aged and senior dogs have an age-related predisposition, while breeds like poodles, cocker spaniels, and dachshunds often have genetic susceptibilities.

Understanding breed risks allows for preventive measures and breed-specific care.

Annual exams detect problems early.

Unspayed Female Dogs

Your unspayed pup is at higher risk for developing diabetes.

Diagnostics from the vet can confirm the disease early.

The hormones related to heat cycles and pregnancy in intact female dogs influence metabolism and increase:

  • Thirst
  • Weight fluctuations
  • Poor healing from infections
  • Risk of sugar diabetes

Discuss reproductive health and preventive spay measures with your vet to reduce hormone-related risks in your canine companion.

Regular veterinarian monitoring assists in early intervention for improved lifelong health.

Chronic Pancreatitis and Obesity

Additionally, chronic pancreatitis and obesity can increase your dog’s risk for diabetes, so diagnostic tests from the vet help detect it early.

A dysfunctional pancreas may not produce enough insulin, while excess fat cells resist insulin’s effects.

Preventive measures like a healthy diet, regular exercise, and avoiding unnecessary medications can lower your dog’s diabetes risk.

But if symptoms arise, veterinary exams and bloodwork help diagnose any hormonal factors or disease processes contributing to increased thirst, weight loss, poor healing, or other warning signs.

Diagnostic Tests for Diabetes

You can have your veterinarian conduct diagnostic tests for diabetes if you suspect your dog may have it.

Blood and urine tests to detect consistent hyperglycemia and glucosuria are typically used to diagnose diabetes in dogs.

Key diagnostic tests include:

  1. Blood glucose tests to check for high blood sugar.
  2. Urine tests to assess glucose spilling into urine.
  3. Insulin assays to determine if insulin deficiency is present.

Understanding the Effects of Diabetes on the Body

Understanding the Effects of Diabetes on the Body
When diabetes goes uncontrolled, it can wreak havoc on your dog’s body.

Excess sugar in the bloodstream leads to cellular starvation, forcing the body to break down fats and proteins instead.

Unmanaged diabetes also causes damage to multiple organs, including the kidneys, eyes, heart, and nerves.

Cellular Starvation and Alternative Fuel Source

One experiences cellular starvation because the excess sugar in your dog’s bloodstream leads to their body breaking down fats and proteins as an alternative fuel source when insulin’s not present to allow glucose into cells.

The metabolism disorder involves insulin normally instructing cells to use glucose from food as fuel.

Without it, fats and proteins are inefficiently broken down despite increased thirst, weight loss, and poor healing.

Adopting holistic approaches like dietary considerations, exercise benefits, and emotional support aids diabetic dogs.

Multi-Organ Damage

Your dog’s high blood sugar levels cause extensive damage to multiple organs such as the kidneys, eyes, heart, and nerves as glucose remains freely circulating in the bloodstream rather than entering cells as fuel.

  • Diabetes affects kidney health through excessive urination and dehydration.
  • Annual eye exams become necessary to monitor for cataracts and blindness.
  • Heart health deteriorates from improper glucose metabolism.
  • Nerve damage leads to pain and mobility issues.

Inability to Convert Glucose Into Fuel

The pancreas’s failure to produce sufficient insulin prevents your dog’s body from converting glucose into usable energy.

Without insulin to act as the key that unlocks cells to receive glucose for energy, the glucose accumulates in the bloodstream while cells are starved.

This metabolic imbalance leads to increased urination and other early signs of diabetes in dogs.

Careful glucose monitoring and insulin injections can help manage pancreatic dysfunction and regulate blood sugar, controlling diabetic symptoms.

Insulin injection Glucose monitoring Pancreatic dysfunction
Blood sugar regulation Metabolic imbalance Increased urination
Insulin-resistant diabetes Managing diabetes in dogs Early signs of diabetes
Monitoring dog’s health

Contribution to Conditions Like Enlarged Liver and Urinary Tract Infections

Having damaged organs throughout the body, uncontrolled diabetes can contribute to conditions like an enlarged liver and recurrent urinary tract infections in your dog.

An enlarged liver, medically known as hepatomegaly, can result from hepatic metabolism complications.

Meanwhile, diabetes-related renal dysfunction increases the risk of urinary tract infections due to glucosuria.

This is why diabetes treatment in dogs involves:

  • Managing blood sugar levels
  • Monitoring for complications
  • Providing emergency veterinary care when necessary

Early Signs of Diabetes in Dogs

Early Signs of Diabetes in Dogs
You may notice your dog:

  • Drinking more water
  • Urinating more frequently
  • Losing weight despite eating the same amount of food

These are all early signs of diabetes in dogs. It’s important to take your pet to the veterinarian right away if you see any of these symptoms.

Excessive Thirst (Polydipsia)

In dogs with diabetes, excessive thirst, known as polydipsia, results from the kidneys’ inability to absorb water.

As a responsible pet owner, monitor your dog’s water consumption and drinking behavior.

Abnormal thirst accompanied by excessive urination warrants attention.

If you notice your dog gulping down water excessively, consult a veterinarian promptly.

Early detection and intervention can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life.

Increased Urination (Polyuria)

Another common early sign of diabetes is when your dog urinates more frequently and in larger volumes than usual.

This increased urination, known as polyuria, is a result of the body trying to eliminate excess sugar from the bloodstream.

You may notice your dog making more frequent trips outside, having nighttime accidents, or avoiding the litter box.

If you observe these changes in your dog’s urination habits, coupled with excessive thirst, it’s crucial to schedule a visit with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Weight Loss Despite Normal Food Intake

Watch out for unexplained weight loss in your dog despite their normal food consumption.

This could be an early sign of diabetes.

When the body can’t use glucose for energy due to elevated blood sugar or pancreatic dysfunction, it starts burning fat and muscle, leading to weight loss.

If you notice this symptom, along with increased thirst, urination, and appetite loss, consult your vet immediately.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help your dog live a long, healthy life.

Advanced Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

Advanced Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs
You may also notice:

  • Your dog has an insatiable appetite but is still losing weight.
  • Your dog has lost its energy and is vomiting.

If diabetes is left untreated, your dog may develop life-threatening conditions such as:

  • Kidney failure
  • Ketoacidosis

Insatiable Appetite (Polyphagia)

Now you might also notice your dog’s appetite increasing despite the weight loss.

This insatiable hunger is a sign of polyphagia, an advanced symptom of diabetes.

Polyphagia occurs because the body’s cells aren’t getting enough glucose for energy, triggering a primal urge to eat more.

While this increased appetite may seem like a good thing, it’s a warning sign of a serious underlying issue that needs immediate veterinary attention.

Loss of Appetite, Lack of Energy, and Vomiting

If you notice your dog’s appetite diminishing, accompanied by a lack of energy and vomiting, these advanced signs could point towards diabetes.

These severe symptoms indicate a critical stage of the disease, requiring immediate veterinary attention.

If left untreated, your dog may experience weight loss, cataracts impairing vision, and a deterioration in coat condition.

Recognizing these signs early can help manage the disease and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Serious Health Threats Like Kidney Failure and Ketoacidosis

You could face serious health threats like kidney failure and ketoacidosis if your dog’s diabetes goes untreated.

That’s why it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary care.

Vision and Eye Health in Diabetic Dogs

Vision and Eye Health in Diabetic Dogs
Your dog’s elevated blood sugar levels can lead to cataracts and cloudy eyes, eventually resulting in vision impairment or even blindness.

Up to 80% of diabetic dogs develop cataracts, so it’s important to be aware of this potential complication and discuss it with your veterinarian.

Development of Cataracts

Your dog’s high blood sugar levels can result in the formation of cataracts due to an excess production of a sugar alcohol called sorbitol.

Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye, leading to vision impairment and even blindness if left untreated.

Early detection and management of diabetes can help prevent or delay the development of cataracts.

Regular veterinary checkups and monitoring blood sugar levels are crucial for diabetic dogs to maintain healthy vision.

Cloudy Eyes and Vision Impairment

With diabetes, your dog’s cloudy eyes and vision impairment are often a result of cataract formation due to high glucose levels.

Cataracts can obstruct light from reaching the retina, causing blurred vision and eventually blindness.

Diabetic retinopathy, another eye complication, can lead to retinal detachment and vision loss.

Early detection and management of diabetes, including glucose monitoring, insulin regulation, and cataract surgery if necessary, can help prevent or slow the progression of these eye problems.

Blindness Risk and Adaptation

Observing your dog’s vision for signs of cataracts is crucial for preventing blindness.

Though cataracts may lead to vision impairment or even blindness, your dog can still live a full and happy life.

With proper care, including cataract surgery in severe cases, and adaptation, your canine companion can overcome this challenge.

Low-vision aids, scent training, and emotional support can all contribute to your dog’s well-being and maintain their quality of life despite vision loss.

Coat and Skin Conditions in Diabetic Dogs

Coat and Skin Conditions in Diabetic Dogs
Untreated diabetes can lead to poor skin and coat health.

Dehydration from increased water loss can cause dry, scaly skin and a lack of luster in the coat.

Insulin therapy can help improve skin and coat conditions by making nutrition available for healthy fur growth.

Dry, Scaly Skin From Dehydration

  1. You’ll notice your dog’s skin becoming dry and scaly due to dehydration from increased water loss.

This is because the body is excreting more water than it’s taking in, leading to a lack of moisture in the skin.

Consequently, skin irritation, dry coat, skin discoloration, hair loss, and rashes may appear.

These signs indicate your dog’s skin barrier is compromised, making it more susceptible to infections.

Poor Coat Quality and Thinning

You may also notice a deterioration in your dog’s coat.

  • It becomes dull and thin due to untreated diabetes.
  • Diabetes causes dehydration, which leads to dry, itchy skin and fur loss.

Coat color changes, such as fading or yellowing, may also occur.

Skin infections can develop more easily in diabetic dogs, further compromising the health of their coat.

Improvement With Insulin Therapy

With insulin being administered regularly, you’ll often see improvements in your dog’s coat and skin health.

Insulin allows your dog’s body to use glucose for energy, reducing the breakdown of fats and proteins.

As a result, your dog’s coat regains its luster and thickness, and their skin becomes less dry and scaly.

A combination of diet modification, exercise routine, insulin administration, medication management, and blood glucose monitoring can help your dog manage their diabetes and enjoy a healthy, vibrant life.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) in Dogs

Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) in Dogs
Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a severe complication of diabetes that can occur when blood sugar levels are extremely high.

This can lead to the production of ketones, which make your dog’s blood acidic and cause enzyme malfunction.

Symptoms of DKA include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Muscle weakness

Symptoms and Emergency Situation

How do you know if your dog’s diabetes has progressed to a life-threatening emergency called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA)?

Watch for these four signs:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Rapid breathing

DKA occurs when the body can’t use glucose for energy, leading to a buildup of ketones in the blood.

Left untreated, DKA can be fatal.

If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Ketone Production and Acidic Blood

When your dog has diabetic ketoacidosis, ketones build up in their blood, causing it to become acidic.

The table below summarizes the key aspects of ketone measurement, blood sugar control, insulin dose adjustment, urine glucose monitoring, and diabetic dog diet:

Aspect Description
Ketone Measurement Regular monitoring of blood or urine ketones is crucial.
Blood Sugar Control Frequent blood glucose monitoring is essential.
Insulin Dose Adjustment Insulin doses may need to be increased to manage blood sugar levels.
Urine Glucose Monitoring Urine glucose levels can provide insights into blood sugar control.
Diabetic Dog Diet A strict diet low in carbohydrates and high in fiber is recommended.

By following these measures, you can help manage your dog’s diabetes and prevent the development of ketoacidosis.

Muscle Weakness and Lethargy

You’ll notice your dog’s muscle weakness and lethargy due to diabetic ketoacidosis when they have difficulty walking or show a lack of energy.

Acidosis can lead to muscle weakness and lethargy in diabetic dogs.

Treatment for DKA involves addressing the underlying diabetes and correcting the acidosis.

Medication, diet changes, and insulin therapy can help manage DKA and improve your dog’s condition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the treatment for diabetes in dogs the same for all types of diabetes?

The treatment for diabetes in dogs varies depending on the type of diabetes:

Insulin injections are often needed for insulin-deficient diabetes.

Diet and exercise may be sufficient for insulin-resistant diabetes.

Are there any specific breeds of dogs that are more prone to developing diabetes?

Certain breeds, like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Poodles, have a higher risk of developing diabetes due to genetic predisposition.

Spaying female dogs before their first heat cycle can also increase the likelihood of diabetes.

What are some of the long-term complications of diabetes in dogs if left untreated?

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a tragic fate for your furry friend:

  • Blindness
  • Kidney failure
  • Nerve damage
  • Even a shortened lifespan

Don’t let diabetes steal your dog’s golden years; early detection and proper management are key to a long, happy life together.

Can diabetes in dogs be reversed or is it a lifelong condition?

Diabetes in dogs is typically a lifelong condition, requiring ongoing management.

While reversal is generally not possible, early detection, proper treatment, and lifestyle adjustments can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life and longevity.

Are there any natural or alternative treatments for diabetes in dogs that have been proven effective?

While natural remedies may provide supportive care, they aren’t proven to effectively treat diabetes in dogs.

Always consult your veterinarian before administering any alternative therapies to ensure your pet’s safety and well-being.


Visualize your beloved canine companion exhibiting unusual thirst, unexplained weight loss, and delayed wound healing.

These signs, like red flags, signal a potential underlying health concern: diabetes.

Recognizing these symptoms early on empowers you to take prompt action, ensuring timely veterinary care for your furry friend.

With proper diagnosis and management, you can positively impact their quality of life, turning a potentially challenging situation into a manageable one.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is the founder and editor-in-chief with a team of qualified veterinarians, their goal? Simple. Break the jargon and help you make the right decisions for your furry four-legged friends.