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Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs… Symptoms and Costs.

Yep, that’s right, dogs can suffer from diabetes too!  This is why, it’s important to make sure everyone in the household is eating a health diet including our four-legged family members as well.

This is also why…

We wanted to take a moment and discuss exactly what “diabetes” looks like when it affects our pets and discuss some of the things that we as loving owners can do to help improve their situation and qualify of life so that we can ensure that the continue to live a long and healthy life.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Diabetes in dogs

There are two forms of diabetes that can occur in dogs.

  • Diabetes insipidus, which is the body’s failure to regulate water content, is rare in dogs.
  • Diabetes mellitus is more common in dogs and even more common in certain breeds and/or when they are over 5 yrs old.

It is not very common for puppies to inherit the congenital form.

Diabetes Mellitus

Most of the time when folks refer to the disease known as “diabetes” whether they know this or not, they’re usually talking about diabetes mellitus.  Now with diabetes mellitus, what is happening is that the pancreas, which is a small organ located near the stomach, is having “issues”.

Or more specifically…

One of either two groups of cells that exist within the pancreas are having issues.  The first group called Alpha cells secrete an enzyme ensuring proper digestion.  The second group is called beta cells which produce a hormone called insulin.

Type l diabetes mellitus…

Or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is caused by the complete or near-complete destruction of the beta cells which is caused by complete or near-complete destruction of the beta cells are insulin-producing cells and is the most common to occur in dogs.  Type ll diabetes mellitus…

Or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, occurs when there are some beta cells that exist but are simply not producing enough insulin or the dog’s body is resistant to that insulin.  Type ll diabetes mellitus is the kind that is most frequently found in cats.

The way Insulin works

Insulin basically attaches itself to the exterior of the cells and opens up, like a, pore in the cell.  This then lets glucose to leave the bloodstream and move into the interior of the cell.  With ought enough insulin to open the pores, glucose is not able to enter the cells.  Thus, glucose builds up in the blood starting the events leading to diabetes mellitus.

When there isn’t…

Enough insulin the cells are stared for energy (glucose).  In reaction to that starvation the body starts to break down any fat and protein that has been stored, thus causing the weight loss.  This ‘starving’ creates hunger, thus the dog will eat more, which will result in weight loss in what is apparently a starving dog.

The dog’s body…

Then attempts to get rid of the excess glucose in the urine.  The glucose draws water causing a loss of the body fluids through the urine creating a greater urine output.  If the dog then doesn’t drink even more water they can become dehydrated.

In dogs, genetics…

Seems to play a larger role then obesity.  Chronic pancreatitis can also lead to canine diabetes mellitus.

Commonly affected dog breeds include:

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs may include:

  • Change in appetite,
  • Excessive thirst and urination coupled with increased appetite but weight loss,
  • Sweet smelling or fruity breath,
  • urinary tract infections,
  • Lethargy or fatigue.

Diagnosis diabetes in dogs

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a veterinarian immediately.

Not only will this…

Insure that your pet gets the best care, it could end up saving you a lot of money because diabetes can cause a lot of complications in your dog’s health, complications that can become quite expensive if they are allowed to progress.

Once at your…

Veterinarians office, you vet will likely perform a blood draw along with collecting a urine sample.  The blood work will help determine what your dog’s blood sugar levels are which will indicate whether or not your dog is suffering from diabetes and if so, how “severe” the diabetes is.

A urinalysis will…

Confirm that sugar is passing through to the urine.  It is also possible that something called Ketones, which is a breakdown of fat, may also be detectable as well.

Treatment for diabetes in dogs

Once diagnosed, your veterinarian with probably instruct you to give your dog insulin injections in order to drive sugar into the cells in the body.  These insulin injections will normally be required once or twice a day.

The vet will also…

Likely instruct you on the dietary changes that need to take place and will probably prescribe a different dog food that is created with lower glycemic index ingredients.  (The glycemic index is the rating used to rate food based on how quickly they turn into sugar in the blood.)

Now in severe cases…

Some dogs may require hospitalization.  In cases like these, the vet will monitor for diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which is when the body breaks down fat at a rate that is too fast for the liver to process.

Some may even…

Need more intensive care because of a variety of problems that can be secondary to the diabetes.  This is why we stress how important it is to get your dog to the vet if you even have the slightest suspicion that he or she may be suffering from diabetes.

Cost of treatment for diabetes in dogs

The initial diagnosis can range from $600-$4000 depending on whether hospitalization or secondary conditions arise.  After the initial outlay, barring further complications, the monthly cost is going to be $100-$300.


It is not uncommon for dogs suffering from diabetes to also develop cataracts within the first 9 months of diagnosis of diabetes.  The cost of surgery for both eyes is $1100-$2000.

These costs will…

Include the insulin and syringes needed for the daily shots along with the regular monitoring of your dog’s blood glucose level (glycemic control), to ensure the proper dose of insulin, by your veterinarian plus the prescription pet food.

Now at this point…

It’s probably a good idea to remind everyone that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who are passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.  This is why we always stress that if you feel that your dog may be suffering from diabetes or any other medical condition please have him or her checked out by a profession immediately.

Or as we like to say…

“When in doubt, have a vet check it out!”

This is also why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also encourage anyone who is considering becoming a pet owner to be sure and due their due diligence before making the leap into pet ownership which includes taking a moment and consider purchasing a pet insurance policy on their animal as well.

Now will a pet insurance policy be “right” for everyone?

No, of course not.  But until you understand how they work, and until you know how much one might cost you, how will you be able to know for sure one isn’t “right” for you?

For more information about who we “feel” currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies in the industry right now, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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