Dog Diabetes Causes and Treatments

It’s important to know the causes of dog diabetes so that this chronic disease can be prevented before it develops. As pet owners, it is our responsibility to make sure to reduce the exposure to diabetes risk factors. 

Dog diabetes causes

Diabetes in dogs occurs when the pancreas decreases or stops insulin production. The insulin producing cells in the pancreas are damaged because of inflammation. There are several reasons and risk factors for diabetes:


Genetics play a part in whether or not your dog develops diabetes. While dog diabetes can affect any dog, the following breeds are more prone to this disease:

  • Beagle
  • Boxer
  • Dachshund
  • Chow Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Poodle
  • Springer Spaniel
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Tibetian Terrier
  • West Highland Whie Terrier


diabetes in dogs
Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash


Excess weight in dogs is actually very dangerous. It can cause health issues such as arthritis, skin problems and heart disease. 

Obesity increases the risk of both pancreatitis and diabetes in dogs. This is because inflammation is promoted by hormones and chemical messengers that are secreted by fat cells. 

The type of food that your dog eats as well as how much you exercise your dog plays a large role in preventing diabetes. If your dog is overweight, it’s best to do something about it now before more health issues arise. 


The pancreas is an organ that functions to produce hormones and digestive enzymes. When a dog has pancreatitis, the beta cells in the pancreas are destroyed. These cells are important as they produce insulin. This causes an increased risk of diabetes because the dog’s body is now unable to produce insulin.

One of the most common causes of pancreatitis is a high fat diet. Thus, it’s important to be aware of how much fat your dog’s diet contains to prevent both pancreatitis and diabetes. 


Inflammation is a normal body response when the body is trying to heal itself. It is a process whereby an infection is fought off. Inflammation may occur when there is an infection, injury, or stress. Certain foods such as sugar and gluten can also cause inflammation.  

However, inflammation becomes a problem when it is ongoing and gets out of hand. When this happens, it increases the risk of autoimmune diseases, leaky gut, pancreatitis and other chronic diseases. 

Beagle is one of the breeds that prone to diabetes

Photo by Marliese Streefland on Unsplash


Autoimmunity occurs when the body destroys its own tissues. It is a big risk factor for diabetes and can be triggered by the following:

  • Infections
  • Food allergies
  • Irritable bowel disease
  • Leaky gut
  • Certain drugs
  • Toxins and endocrine disrupting chemicals

It’s always a good idea to bring your dog to the vet if you suspect any of these conditions to prevent further complications. 


While diet does not cause diabetes directly, it plays a large role in increasing obesity, pancreatitis, autoimmune diseases and inflammation. Here’s what your dog needs in its diet: 

  • Protein - Your dog’s body tissues are made from protein. 
  • Carbohydrates -  Carbs power the tissues in your dog’s body and help to keep intestines healthy. Excess carbs are stored as fat and cause weight gain in your dog. This can cause obesity and lead to diabetes
  • Fats - The type of fat you feed your dog is important. Fatty acids are very much needed by your dog’s body. However, too much fatty food will lead to diabetes. 
  • Vitamins & Minerals - These are needed for many things in your dog’s body such as building strong healthy bones, skin and fur. 
  • Water - More than half of an adult dog’s body weight is made up of water. Water is important to keep your dog healthy so make sure your dog has access to fresh water at all times. 

If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, diabetic dog food can help greatly in stabilizing blood sugar levels. This can be store bought and homemade. 

Dog diabetes treatment 

Dog diabetes is a chronic disease that has to be managed over a long period and it may take months to determine the most effective treatment plan for your dog. 

Dogs with Type I diabetes will require insulin after every meal. You will need your vet to prescribe the type and amount of insulin that is suitable for your dog. Your vet will also monitor your dog’s blood sugar levels regularly to determine if your dog is responding to insulin. 

Treatment plans may also include weight management and exercise plans, especially if your dog is overweight. Doing this will help stabilize blood sugar levels. 

Your dog’s diet is also very important when it comes to managing this disease. A consistent, high fiber, low fat diet is recommended. Diabetic dog food can be store bought or prepared at home. 

Always consult your vet when it comes to managing your dog’s diabetes. Changes in diet and weight management plans should be discussed with your vet before implementation. 


As dog owners, it is our responsibility to keep our dogs as healthy as possible to prevent the development of this disease. If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s good to determine what might have caused it so that treatment is effective. With proper and effective treatment, your diabetic dog will still be able to have a full life by your side.