Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs - Watch Out for These Signs!

Diabetes can affect both dogs and cats. Other animals such as apes, pigs and horses can also get diabetes, just like human beings. It may sound like a death sentence but let us assure you that it is not. Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed well so that your furry friend can continue having a long and healthy life with minimal changes. This is on the condition that symptoms of diabetes in dogs are caught early on and as the owner, the onus is on you to observe your dog. 

So if you are reading this, it is likely that you are worried about your pet friend getting diabetes or you already suspect that it is a condition your dog already has. We will be breaking down all you need to know about symptoms of diabetes in dogs. If you spot any of the dog diabetes symptoms as listed, visit your veterinarian immediately! 

Can dogs get diabetes? 

As we have established, yes, dogs can get diabetes. Diabetes mellitus is the official name for dog diabetes. Your dog will be diagnosed with diabetes when your little doggy’s glucose-insulin connection does not work properly. 

There are two types of diabetes for dogs which are insulin deficiency diabetes and insulin resistance diabetes. Both are quite common, depending on the breeding, sex and weight of the dog. 

As the saying goes, ‘prevention is better than cure’ and this totally applies when it comes to dogs and diabetes. There are a few ways to prevent dog diabetes including getting regular checkups, getting your dogs spayed if they are female, regular exercise and feeding a quality diet to your dog.

There is also legitimate treatment available so you do not have to worry too much.

But first of all, before even thinking about how to treat your furry friends, be sure that your dog has all the symptoms of diabetes! It is not much use to worry about treatment before finding out for sure that your dog has diabetes.

Signs of diabetes in dogs

Dogs of any age can be affected by diabetes. Here are the most common symptoms of diabetes in dogs:

1. Frequent urination

    You may notice that your dog is peeing more frequently before. Sometimes, it is uncontrollable and you may see puddles on the floor or your dog begging to go out more often to urinate. 

    The increase in urination is caused by blood sugar spilling from the bloodstream into the urine. Also referred to as polyuria, this is one of the most common signs and it will be good to immediately bring your dog to the vet if you observe this. 

    There comes a point whereby your dog’s kidney is unable to filter glucose fast enough to keep it in the blood. It, therefore, leaks into the urine and pulls water with it. This is when your dog urinates more frequently. 

    2. Excessive thirst 

    Also known as polydipsia, you may see signs that your dog is drinking more water than usual. If you see your dog’s drinking bowl emptying faster than usual, it may be a sign of a diabetic dog.

    Yes, the first symptom is your dog urinating frequently and most owners will likely link it to drinking more water. It is natural to think so. After all, drinking more water usually equals more urination right? Wrong. 

    It is the other way around. Because your dog is urinating more, the body becomes dehydrated and therefore has to drink more and more water so that the body keeps up.

    3. Increase in appetite

    When your dog has diabetes, the imbalance of insulin or the lack of insulin causes dogs to be hungry all the time. An insatiable appetite, also known as polyphagia, is another common symptom of diabetes in dogs. 

    The dog’s body has tricked it into thinking that they are starving due to the lack of insulin. Although glucose is available in the body, the dog’s body cannot perceive it. Therefore, the dog will eat and eat and eat! 

    4. Weight loss

    Despite eating so much,  your dog is losing weight! Why? It’s another sign of diabetes in dogs. 

    Take unnatural weight loss in dogs seriously as it is also a sign of many other conditions such as cancer or kidney disease. 

    losing appetite and weight loss

    Photo by Maria Orlova from Pexels

    When your dog has diabetes, what happens is that the insulin does not work properly to send signals that it has glucose for all the organs. Therefore, the dog’s body will start to break down muscle and fat instead which leads to weight loss.

    5. Cloudy Eyes

    Dogs with diabetes may eventually develop some degree of cataracts. This symptom is one of the most common, long-term conditions of dogs with diabetes. 

    For a healthy dog, the eye lenses will absorb glucose from the eye fluid and convert any excess into sorbitol. When a large amount of glucose is absorbed, a large amount of sorbitol is also produced. 

    Sorbitol has a strong pull of water. The water then enters the eye lenses and causes distortion of fibers. It also blocks light from passing through. This will cause your dog’s eyes to look cloudy. 

    6. Worsening Vision

    Because of the above symptom, cataracts, your dog’s vision may get worse and are at risk of going completely blind. 

    Cataracts prevent light from reaching the retina at the back of the eye. This causes a loss of vision. 

    It may happen over a course of a few weeks or months or within twenty-four hours. However, blindness can sometimes be reversed surgically by removing the abnormal lens. In cases that it cannot be removed, dogs still do reasonably well due to their excellent sense of smell and hearing. 

    7. Poor coat and skin quality

    Again, due to the frequent urination when dogs have diabetes, dehydration will occur. Additionally, when dogs do not get enough nutrition as the insulin is not working in dog diabetes, dogs’ skin and coat will appear lackluster. 

    You will observe your dog’s coat start thinning out, have dandruff and dry or scaly skin. 

    Diabetes does not just affect the internal organs, it often affects the skin quality as well. 

    8. Vomiting 

    This is not a common symptom. If prolonged diabetes goes untreated, your dog can go into diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). 

    This will happen when blood sugar is very high and there is little to zero insulin pulling glucose into the tissues. Your dog’s body will then start producing ketones to use as energy but this is not sustainable as the blood will become acidic and the dog’s body will start to malfunction. 

    When you see vomiting, lethargy and a poor appetite, diabetes in dogs may have gone undiagnosed for a long time. You have reached a point where hospitalization is necessary in order to save your dog. 

    9. Lack of energy 

    Usually, dogs are excited to be taken on walks and many owners have to drag them home. If you notice that your dog tires faster than usual after playing or going on walks, it is a symptom of diabetes. 

    dog lack of energy

    Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

    When dogs have diabetes, the body is deprived of the glucose required for energy. This is due to the fact that sugar is trapped in the bloodstream and is unable to enter the tissues. 

    10. Weak muscles 

    Due to the lack of glucose going into dogs muscles, diabetic dogs may stumble more often than usual, appear stiff or have difficulty lying down. 

    Although less common, diabetes may also cause your dog to develop dropped hocks. You will notice that your dog is standing or walking in a weird way through careful observation. 

    One more thing to keep in mind is that symptoms of diabetes in dogs can overlap with other diseases. A good example would be when your dog has problems with the kidney and liver, you may observe an increase in urination and thirst, which is also a sign of diabetes in dogs. Other diseases such as hyperthyroidism and some cancers can cause increased hunger in dogs, which is also a symptom. 

    To get rid of any doubt, it is best to take your dog to the vet in order for your vet to evaluate your dog properly, do a blood test and rule out diabetes or other conditions. 

    Diabetic ketoacidosis

    Most dogs who are diagnosed with diabetes have a good prognosis and will live a long happy life when given the proper treatment. However, if the disease is caught too late, or your dog does not respond to treatment, diabetic ketoacidosis can occur. 

    Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life threatening complication of diabetes and dogs who develop it deteriorate very fast. If your dog is in the final stages of dog diabetes you might have to make the difficult decision to put it down to ease its suffering.


    Diabetic dog treats

    Your dog may already be suffering from diabetes and as the owner, you may sympathize with it. A total change of diet may be necessary and dogs may or may not like that. So to cheer your dog up, you can give it a treat or two in between meals. 

    Avoid treats with syrup, molasses, fructose, dextrose or maltose on the ingredient list. 

    Kangaroo Steak from

    To be safe, you may try natural dog treats such as the Kangaroo Steak or Green Lipped Mussels from Petcubes. These treats do not have any added ingredients and are totally, 100% made from wild kangaroo meat or 100% green lipped mussels.

    Green Lipped Mussels

    They are good sources of meat and contain many nutrients in it without the fear of additional glucose or sugar in it.


    Your dog will be able to live with diabetes if you catch the signs early. Do not miss out on the above stated symptoms. Even if it is not diabetes, it may be because of other issues or conditions and it is best to rule them all out. Early intervention makes a difference in treatment and management of the disease. So consult with your vet and go for regular checkups so that your dog can live a quality, long life.