What Are the Symptoms of Diabetes for a Dog?

By April Sanders
Diabetes in dogs usually strikes between the ages of 5 and 7. It is most common in overweight, female dogs. The disease is caused by a lack of insulin, which is a hormone that aids in the delivery of glucose (sugar energy) to the cells of the body. It is hereditary and the most prevalent hormonal disorder in canines.


Diabetes mellitus can be divided into two groups. Type I diabetes arises during the early years of a dog's life, when they still are considered adolescents (between 2-4 years old). It often can be controlled by diet and exercise. Type II diabetes is more common and usually occurs in older dogs. With Type II diabetes, a dog must receive insulin to survive.

Lethargy and weight issues

Lethargy and weight gain are common symptoms of diabetes, but they are also symptoms of other diseases. In fact, many of the symptoms of diabetes can be similar to or the same as other health problems in dogs, so it is important to get your dog to the vet to have its blood sugar tested if you think it might have diabetes. Because of the lethargy and inability to burn sugar, your dog may have weight gain. Some dogs lose weight because they do not feel up to eating much.

More water, more urine

Dogs with diabetes will drink excessive amounts of water. In fact, this is the most obvious and common sign of canine diabetes. This extreme thirst is caused by the large amounts of glucose in the blood. Your dog also will urinate more often and probably will have accidents in the house, as dogs with diabetes have a difficult time controlling their full bladders.

Silent killer

Unfortunately, many dogs do not show any obvious symptoms of diabetes because it can progress so slowly. A dog owner probably will not notice a gradual increase in the amount of water a dog drinks, or a gradual decrease in activity. In fact, canine diabetes often is called a "silent killer." Many veterinarians automatically test the blood sugar of middle-aged dogs even if no symptoms are noticed by the dog's owner.


The first step is to change your dog's diet. The specifics of this will vary depending on the severity of diabetes in your dog, but you probably will be asked to prepare bland, homemade meals for your dog as well as to feed your dog at certain times during the day on a regular basis. You also will be told to exercise your dog for about 20 minutes, at the same time of day, every day. Finally, your dog most likely will need insulin injections, which you may have to administer yourself at home.
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