Diabetes mellitus diabetes in dogs veterinary medicine

Not only humans are affected by diseases of civilization, but also pets. Caniner Diabetes mellitus is the medical term for diabetes in domestic dogs, colloquially also called "canine diabetes" or "sugar dog", which requires the lifelong administration of insulin.

The frequency with which dogs suffer from diabetes has been increasing for years, although it is debatable whether this is due to the fact that it actually occurs more frequently or simply because it is nowadays increasingly better recognized. According to estimates, about 0.3 to 1 percent of domestic dogs suffer from canine diabetes. Above all, these are adult, non-spayed females.

Diabetes clinical picture

Diabetes is a metabolic or hormonal disorder that occurs in humans and also in some pets such as dogs and cats. It occurs in various forms and a distinction is usually made between insulin-dependent (type I) and non-insulin-dependent (type II) diabetes. However, this distinction is hardly ever made in dogs, as the second type is almost never detected in practice. In primary insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, the beta cells of the pancreas no longer produce enough insulin, a metabolic hormone that lowers blood glucose levels by making the cells store glucose in the form of glycogen or by supplying it to them for energy. This leads to hyperglycemia of the blood and an insufficient supply of insulin to the cells.

Type I diabetes accounts for about half of all cases in dogs. The other half suffer from secondary diabetes mellitus (type III), which is a secondary disease. Triggers can be: an inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), a pancreatic tumor, an adrenal hyperfunction (Cushing's syndrome), an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) or an excessive secretion of growth hormone (hypersomatotropism) as well as the administration of diabetes-promoting drugs such as cortisone, somatotropin or progestin. Both forms of diabetes in dogs – in contrast to cats – are not curable and therefore require lifelong insulin administration.

Risk factor overweight

One of the biggest influenceable risk factors for the dog diabetes is overweight and wrong nutrition. Frequent giving of treats additionally increases the risk. Therefore, dog owners should use it sparingly and give their dog plenty of exercise, as this lowers the dog's risk of developing diabetes. Female dogs are significantly more likely to develop the disease than male dogs. Above all dogs in the adult age are concerned.

The obvious initial symptoms of diabetes in dogs are increased intake of food and fluids with simultaneous emaciation and urine output. However, it can be detected at an early stage: an elevated blood glucose level provides the decisive indication. It can be well controlled by insulin administration. It is important to detect it early, otherwise irreparable consequential damage can occur. If left untreated, diabetes mellitus leads to opacification of the lens. This results in poorer vision. Later, the general condition of the animals becomes severely disturbed. They often appear listless or even comatose.


In order to treat diabetes, it is almost always necessary to administer insulin by injection. Unspayed bitches, which are particularly frequently affected by diabetes, should also be spayed first, as this already alleviates the symptoms in most cases and is necessary for a successful substitution of insulin by injection. The dog is adjusted to the correct dose of insulin over several weeks by repeatedly measuring the blood glucose level. In addition, increased attention is paid to adjusting body weight and changing feeding if necessary. Then nothing stands in the way of a long dog life even with diabetes.

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