Logo: health

Diabetic Dog

Diabetic Dog

Diabetic Dog Overview

This handout will help introduce you to some of the terms and treatments that accompany this diagnosis, including how a veterinarian will treat the diabetes and what you should be doing as the owner of a diabetic dog.


Download our Diabetic Dog Handout for an in-depth look at this pet health condition and how you can partner with your veterinarian to prevent against it.

Diagnosis & Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs Handout Summary


What is diabetes mellitus?

Just like in humans, a dog with diabetes mellitus can’t regulate his or her blood sugar levels, because of an issue with insulin production. A puppy’s body needs glucose as a cellular energy source. Your dog’s digestive system breaks down food into several parts, including glucose.
A dog with diabetes mellitus won’t be able use the broken down glucose. Insulin works as the key, allowing cells to absorb the glucose. But with diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin and glucose stays in the dog’s blood stream.

Symptoms that your dog could have diabetes

If you’re concerned your dog could have diabetes mellitus, keep your eye on two places: the water bowl and his or her bathroom breaks. The large amounts of glucose in the dog’s blood stream will make him or her urinate much more often than normal. Diabetic dogs will then need to drink excessively to make up for increased water loss.

Two types of Diabetes:

  • Type I diabetes mellitus: This type of diabetes can be regulated with insulin injections. It is very similar to the type of diabetes found in children whose pancreases produce low levels or no insulin.
  • Type II diabetes mellitus: Dogs with type II diabetes have high or normal levels of insulin in their blood. However, their bodies are resistant to the function of insulin.
Most diabetic dogs suffer from type one. Luckily, it is a treatable condition, but these dogs will need insulin injections for life.

How will a veterinarian treat my diabetic dog?

The doctor will likely start with a diet change and insulin injections when treating a dog with diabetes. All pets react very differently to insulin. The vet will need to closely monitor how the dog reacts to insulin injections. This will mean frequent trips back to your veterinarian and blood tests to see how well the glucose is absorbing insulin. The pet health experts at your local Banfield Pet Hospital can help provide a treatment plan to set expectations.

What will my role be in treatment?

A doctor will require you to take on two major roles when treating canine diabetes:
  1. Feeding – Not only will the doctor give your furry family member a very specific diet, but feeding time needs to be consistent. The best food for a diabetic dog will be low in fat and high in fiber. Make sure to buy treats approved by your veterinarian.
  2. Medication – Dogs feeding times will be coordinated with their insulin injections. A Banfield pet health expert can go over the best way to give your dog the shot. The injection is given under the skin, not in a vein or muscle. Most dogs don’t even notice the shot or at least adjust quickly.

Learn more

Never change your dog’s insulin dose without discussing it with a local Banfield veterinarian. You can find more information on dog diabetes by visiting the Nutrition portion of our website, banfield.com.