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Dog advice: what to do if your dog has diabetes

Diabetes mellitus occurs if your dog isn’t producing enough insulin

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What exactly is diabetes

In a healthy animal, glucose is absorbed from food, and this provides the energy for all the cells in their body. Insulin is a hormone that signals cells to absorb glucose, and if this message fails either due to a lack of insulin or a condition called insulin resistance, the result is high levels of glucose in the blood, known as diabetes mellitus.

What are the signs of diabetes

You may have brought your dog to the vet because they have been drinking and urinating a lot more than usual, or they have lost weight despite having an increased appetite. Other signs of diabetes include lethargy and cataracts.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

The signs mentioned above are not enough to confirm your dog has diabetes, as they can also be seen with a number of other diseases. That’s why your vet will probably have taken blood and urine samples to confirm a diagnosis of diabetes before recommending any treatment.

Is diabetes curable?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured, but it can be effectively managed, keeping your beloved pet happy and healthy for longer. 

Getting used to a new routine

Routine is the key to successfully caring for your pet with diabetes. To achieve the best control possible you will need to manage their insulin, weight, exercise and diet. Your Vets4Pets team will do all they can to help you achieve this.


Your pet’s starting insulin dose will be based on their body weight. Your vet will then monitor your pet’s response to the insulin, making adjustments to the dose until the optimal dose has been determined. Insulin injections are usually given twice a day, every 12 hours with meals.


Exercise is important for pets with diabetes. It can help avoid high blood sugar levels and may improve insulin absorption. That being said, too much exercise can cause glucose levels to drop too low, resulting in hypoglycaemia. You should aim for steady, moderate-intensity activities, avoiding those which can impact dramatically on blood sugar levels.


Your pet’s diet is important and they will need to be fed regularly. Dogs should be fed twice a day. A high fibre diet will help to slow glucose absorption.


When a pet’s blood glucose levels fall too low this is called hypoglycaemia, and can be a dangerous complication of diabetes that you should be aware of. It can happen when your pet has had too much insulin, or if they do not eat after having received their normal insulin dose. You will need to keep glucose powder or solution close to hand, should an emergency arise.