A dog having a diabetes check up

Signs of diabetes in dogs & how to help your pet reading-time-icon 2 min read

Diabetes is becoming more common in UK dogs. 

Let's take a look at what diabetes is, how to identify it and what to do if you're worried about your dog.

What is diabetes?

  • Canine diabetes is an incurable disease, caused when a dog’s pancreas stops producing insulin.
  • Diabetes is one of the most common hormonal diseases in dogs.
  • Diabetes can occur when your pup is as young as 18 months, though most dogs are 7-10 years old when they’re diagnosed.
  • Around 70% of diabetic dogs are female.
  • Diabetes is most common in Poodles, Dachshunds, Springer Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers and Cairn Terriers.

The technical bit…

A healthy dog's pancreas produces insulin; the body uses this to prevent glucose (sugar) levels in the blood from rising too high. 

Without being able to control blood sugar levels, diabetic dogs can suffer from hyperglycaemia, which in turn can cause increased thirst, hunger and urination. 

Signs of diabetes in dogs

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Weight loss (although many diabetic dogs are overweight)

If left untreated, diabetes can cause a number of health problems, including cataracts and urinary tract infections. That said, diabetes is common and easy to treat - if diagnosed early and properly managed, many diabetic dogs lead active and happy lives.

golden retriever asleep on couch

Type 1 and Type 2

Type 2 diabetes is rare in dogs; most diabetic dogs suffer from Type 1. A dog with Type 1 diabetes can’t produce any insulin, so will depend on daily insulin injections for life. This may sound intimidating but fear not – your vet will explain the best way to do this and you’ll soon get the hang of it.

A diabetic dog will need regular check-ups to monitor their condition, and you should always let your vet know immediately if you notice any changes to your dog’s appetite or thirst, or if they appear dizzy at any time.

Can diet help?

A balanced diet can massively improve the stability of your dog’s sugar levels. There are many specialised diets available - your vet can advise on which is the most suitable for your specific dog. 

Because diabetes can be very serious, it's best diagnosed and treated early. Always contact your vet if you spot any of the signs listed above. 

Need more info?

For expert advice on diabetes in dogs, have a chat with your local vet. 

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.