Coping With The Final Stages of Dog Diabetes - The Best Course of Action For Your Pet

Canine diabetes is a disease that can be managed if caught early and treated. However, there may come a time when we have to make the hard decision whether to put down our dog because of its suffering due to diabetes. Here are some things to consider if your find your dog in the final stages of dog diabetes.
Final Stage of dog diabetes

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Average lifespan of dog with diabetes

Many dogs who show symptoms of diabetes and are diagnosed with it do not actually die from diabetes if given the proper treatment. In fact, if your dog lives past the first 3 to 4 months of being diagnosed and is not left untreated, both you and your furry friend can still spend lots of time together.

The median survival for dogs with diabetes is two years, and there are many who live much longer than that, provided that they receive proper treatment and are regularly assessed by the vet.

Thus, dogs with diabetes generally live a full, happy life that is free of symptoms when given the proper treatment.

However, without treatment or insulin therapy, dogs who are suffering from diabetes mellitus are at high risk of developing complications such as diabetic ketoacidosis which can cause multi organ failure.

Many dogs who pass away due to diabetes often do so because they were diagnosed late and/or before the disease could be regulated.

What is diabetic ketoacidosis in dogs? 

Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is essentially a life threatening complication of diabetes mellitus.

DKA occurs when there is not enough insulin in the body to regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels.

In this condition, glucose levels build up in the bloodstream and the dog’s liver produces ketone bodies to act as a source of fuel because insulin levels drop. Your dog’s body will become more acidic when the ketone bodies break down.

This causes disruption to the normal balance of electrolytes which adds to the harmful acidic environment.

Signs and symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis in dogs

Diabetic ketoacidosis can happen quickly and its symptoms can be seen within one to two months from the development of diabetes. Warning signs of diabetic ketoacidosis in dogs include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Rapid breathing with quick and heavy panting
  • Fruity smelling breath
  • Confusion

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms it is important that you schedule a visit with your vet immediately.

    fatigue dog due to diabetes

    Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

    Signs your dog with diabetes is dying

    To make the decision easier, consider if the advanced diabetes has also caused your dog to suffer other health issues such as:

    • Seizures
    • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
    • Kidney failure
    • Blindness
    • Ketoacidosis

    It is also good to consider that treatment for diabetes can be quite intense. As dogs who are older are already weaker and more fragile, keeping them alive might only be prolonging their suffering. Nonetheless, the decision is ultimately yours.

    When to put a diabetic dog down

    It is hard when your dog has been diagnosed with an advanced stage of diabetes. While we love our furry friends, the best thing that we can do to ease their suffering is to put them down. If you feel that the time has come to put your diabetic dog down, pay a visit to the vet.

    Your vet will be able to advise you on the best thing to do in your and your pet’s situation. Nonetheless, it is wise to remember that the final decision rests with you.

    This decision is definitely not an easy one but you will need to consider your pet’s quality of life. If your dog is suffering greatly, then the greatest and most unselfish act of love for your dog may be to put them to sleep. It can be hard to let go of your best friend, but the regret of keeping your pet alive and suffering longer than they have to will weigh heavily on you.


    Dogs with diabetes can live a long life with treatment. Nonetheless, it is always better to prevent diabetes from occurring in the first place. While some factors such as genetics are out of our control, we can keep our pets healthy by ensuring that they have regular exercise and a healthy diet. If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, switch to diabetic dog food diet that contains less carbohydrates for better blood sugar control, in addition to the insulin treatment that your vet prescribed. This will enable your dog to live a full, happy life with you.