Features May 2012 Issue

Managing Diabetes in Dogs

Can dogs get diabetes? Unfortunately yes, dogs can have diabetes just like humans, although only Type 1seems to occur in canines. Diabetic dogs are increasingly common, but the disease is entirely manageable unless left untreated.

[Updated January 4, 2019]


1. Know the symptoms of diabetes in dogs (described below). If your dog shows any signs of canine diabetes, seek veterinary care at once.

2. Work with your vet to determine the right type of diabetic insulin for your individual dog, and the right dosage.

3. Take your diabetic dog for frequent veterinary checkups and check your dog's blood sugar regularly.

4. Learn how to give your dog insulin injections and reward him generously for accepting them.

5. Consistently feed your diabetic dog the same type of food at the same time of day.

6. Report any unusual symptoms or reactions your dog has to medications or diet to your vet.

For years public health officials have reported a diabetes epidemic among America’s children and adults. At the same time, the rate of canine diabetes in America has more than tripled since 1970, so that today it affects about 1 in every 160 dogs. But while many human cases are caused and can be treated by diet, for dogs, diabetes is a lifelong condition that requires careful blood sugar monitoring and daily insulin injections.

help diabetic dogs

Five years ago, Gryffin, then age 4, was diagnosed with diabetes and given up for adoption. Since he got on the right brand of insulin for him and his raw diet, he’s been thriving.

The medical term for the illness is diabetes mellitus (mellitus is a Latin term that means “honey sweet,” reflecting the elevated sugar levels the condition produces in urine and blood). Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to produce sufficient insulin to metabolize food for energy, or when the body’s cells fail to utilize insulin properly.

The pancreas’s inability to produce insulin is known in humans as type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes. Type 1 diabetes affects virtually all dogs with the condition. Dogs can also develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

Type 2 (formerly adult onset) diabetes, which is the result of insulin resistance often linked to diet and obesity, is the most common form of diabetes in humans. Most diabetic cats have type 2 diabetes, but there is no evidence that Type 2 diabetes occurs in dogs.

Signs of Diabetes in Dogs

The classic symptoms of diabetes in dogs are excessive thirst, increased urination, and weight loss despite normal or increased food consumption. Acute-onset blindness resulting from cataracts can also be a sign.

The diagnosis is easy to confirm with simple tests for glucose (sugar) in the blood and urine.

Other test results linked to diabetes include ketones in the urine, increased liver enzymes, hyperlipidemia (elevated cholesterol and/or triglycerides), an enlarged liver, protein in the urine, elevated white blood cells due to secondary infections, increased urine specific gravity resulting from dehydration, and low blood phosphorus levels.

Canine diabetes may be complicated or uncomplicated. Complicated cases, in which the patient is ill, not eating, or vomiting, require hospital care. Fortunately, most cases are uncomplicated and can be treated at home.

Dogs at Highest Risk for Diabetes

What causes diabetes in dogs? Diabetes is one of the most common endocrine diseases affecting middle-aged and senior dogs, with 70 percent of patients older than seven at the time of diagnosis. Diabetes in puppies hardly exists - diabetes rarely occurs in dogs younger than one year of age, and it is more common in females and neutered males than in intact males.

Keeshonds, Pulis, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Pinschers, Poodles, Samoyeds, Australian Terriers, Schnauzers, Spitz, Fox Terriers, Bichon Frise, and Siberian Huskies may be at higher risk. Because of these breed connections, researchers speculate that the development of diabetes may have a genetic component.

help diabetic dogs

Buster, a 13-year-old Maltese, was diagnosed with diabetes at age 10, after suddenly going blind. Cataract surgery completely restored his vision.

An estimated 50 percent of canine diabetes cases are likely linked to pancreatic damage caused by  autoimmune disorders. These disorders have many possible causes, including genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Many holistic veterinarians speculate that they may be linked to overstimulation of the immune system from multiple vaccinations, processed foods, and other environmental insults.

Extensive pancreatic damage resulting from chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) may contribute to diabetes in 30 percent of canine cases. Pancreatic disease can also cause exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, or EPI, resulting in a deficiency of digestive enzymes. When a dog develops both EPI and diabetes, the diabetes typically appears several months before symptoms of EPI.

An estimated 20 percent of canine patients develop insulin resistance from other conditions, such as Cushing’s disease and acromegaly (too much growth hormone), or from the long-term use of steroid drugs, such as prednisone. In females, insulin resistance may accompany the heat cycle, or gestational diabetes may occur during pregnancy. In these cases, symptoms may disappear when the heat cycle or pregnancy ends. Diabetes may also resolve when steroids are discontinued or Cushing’s disease is treated.

Though many people assume otherwise, there is actually no clear evidence that obesity causes diabetes in dogs. However, obesity can contribute to insulin resistance, making it more difficult to regulate overweight dogs with diabetes. Obesity is also a risk factor for pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.

Cataracts in Dogs Due to Diabetes

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye. Diabetic cataracts are a leading cause of blindness in humans, and the same is true for dogs. The majority of canine patients with diabetes develop cataracts within six months of diagnosis, and 80 percent do so within 16 months. The risk of cataract development appears to increase with age regardless of blood sugar levels, so that even well controlled diabetic dogs can develop cataracts.

Surgery has saved the sight of many dogs. Cataracts treated in the early immature stage have the highest success rate and fewest surgical complications.

Hypermature cataracts create inflammation (uveitis), causing pain, eye redness, and pupil constriction. When uveitis is seen prior to surgery, the success rate for pain-free vision six months later is only 50 percent, as opposed to 95 percent for those with no pre-surgical uveitis.

Phacoemulsification to remove the lens is the preferred surgical method for diabetic dogs. After surgery, an artificial lens is installed for optimal post-operative vision. Although cataracts typically affect both eyes, treating just one can reduce costs (estimated between $1,500 to $3,000 per eye) and still restore vision.

Other potential complications from diabetes include decreased corneal sensitivity, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye).

Common Complications for Diabetic Dogs

Concurrent disorders that can make diabetes more difficult to control include hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), infections, hypothyroidism, renal and liver insufficiency, cardiac insufficiency, chronic inflammation (especially pancreatitis), Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, severe obesity, hyperlipidemia, and cancer.

Complication risks of diabetes for humans are similar.

help diabetic dogs

Henry, a four-year veteran of diabetes, doesn’t mind his insulin injections, since they’re always followed by a treat!

Diabetic nephropathy, a kidney problem, occurs in 40 percent of human patients and takes many years to develop. The percentage of canine patients with diabetic nephropathy is unknown (it’s more common in cats), but its earliest sign is hyperalbuminuria (high albumin levels in urine) followed by an increase in the urine protein-to-creatinine (UPC) ratio and hypertension (high blood pressure), which may contribute to kidney damage. Early changes may be reversed if blood sugar levels improve.

Infections – especially urinary tract infections (UTIs) – are common among dogs with diabetes because sugar in urine makes the bladder an ideal incubator for bacteria. In one study, half of the diabetic dogs tested had occult or hidden urinary tract infections that were not detected by urinalysis. The possibility of UTIs in dogs with diabetes is so great that their urine should be cultured periodically to detect infections. A long course of antibiotics (lasting six to eight weeks) can be administered if needed. Follow-up cultures and frequent retesting are recommended.

Dogs with diabetes are also susceptible to infections of the mouth and gums. Diabetic pets should have their teeth checked regularly and cleaned if necessary. Dental tartar seeds the body with bacteria, and when blood sugar levels run high, infections in important organs can take root. The kidneys and heart are particularly vulnerable. Brushing your dog’s teeth daily or at least twice a week helps to prevent and detect early signs of dental disease.

Liver (hepatic) disease is another common problem, resulting from altered fat metabolism caused by diabetes. In one survey of 221 dogs with diabetes, over 70 percent had elevated liver enzymes. Ultrasound tests and biopsies help differentiate between primary hepatic disease and secondary complications of diabetes.

Pancreatitis affects an estimated 40 percent of dogs with diabetes. See “Dog Pancreatitis Symptoms, Causes and Treatment," for information on this disorder.

Hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s disease, is another complication. In one study, 23 percent of dogs with diabetes tested positive for Cushing’s. Most canine patients with both disorders develop Cushing’s disease before the onset of diabetes. About 10 percent of dogs with Cushing’s are also diabetic.

Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) may coincide with diabetes. In the study mentioned above, 9 percent of diabetic canines were hypothyroid. While the glucose intolerance caused by hypothyroidism could lead to the development of diabetes, it’s unlikely to be a major factor because the two don’t often occur together. However, thyroid hormone deficiency can result in insulin resistance, complicating glycemic control. Thyroid hormone replacement should be instituted gradually in dogs with diabetes since their insulin requirements will decrease and, without dosage adjustments, severe hypoglycemia may occur.

It makes sense to test diabetic dogs for hypothyroidism and hyperadrenocorticism, but only after their diabetes is controlled. Otherwise, the diabetes will affect test results.

Hyperlipidemia usually improves as blood sugar levels are controlled. Persistently elevated triglycerides may be linked to Cushing’s disease and can increase the risk of developing acute pancreatitis. Reducing fat in the diet can help to lower triglyceride levels. Elevated cholesterol is often linked to hypothyroidism.

Insulin resistance can be caused by hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, infections, pancreatitis, drug therapy (corticosteroids), obesity, acromegaly, estrus (heat cycle), and anti-insulin antibodies. Insulin resistance should be investigated in patients who need doses of 1 unit or more of insulin per pound of body weight.

The Life Expectancy of Dogs with Diabetes

The life expectancy of a diabetic dog can be the same as a healthy dog's with proper care. With proper treatment, diabetic dogs have survival rates very similar to those of non-diabetic dogs of the same age and gender, though their risk is greatest during the first six months of treatment, when insulin therapy is introduced and glucose levels are being regulated. Diabetic dogs are more likely to die of kidney disease, infections, or liver/pancreatic disorders than of diabetes itself. But once their condition stabilizes, diabetic dogs can lead happy, healthy lives.

Consider Buster, a 13-year-old Maltese belonging to Mary Butler in Northern California. Buster was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago after suddenly going blind due to cataracts.

help diabetic dogs

Six-year-old Penny, who developed diabetes as a puppy, receives her evening insulin shot, one of two she receives each day from owners Melba and Curtiss Lanham. “We move the injections around; we never use just one spot over and over again for the insulin injection,” says Melba.

“He had lens implants within a month and has had perfect vision ever since,” says Butler. “My little guy has been stable ever since his diagnosis. He has lots of energy, his coat is thick and shiny, his stools are formed and regular, and his teeth sparkle. I do brush his teeth three times a week, which I am sure helps.”

Dog Diabetes Treatment

What Kind of Insulin is Best for Diabetic Dogs?

Your veterinarian is your best advisor when it comes to medication. There are many different insulin products, and individual responses vary. Finding the right insulin for your dog may require experimentation.

Insulin varies in terms of onset, peak, and duration of action. Most dogs do well with intermediate-acting insulin, such as Humulin N, though some do better with long-acting insulin or mixtures that combine different types. It’s important to use only fresh insulin, switching to a new bottle every 6 to 8 weeks, and to use the correct syringe, which will vary depending on the type of insulin.

Alise Shatoff of San Diego, California, adopted her dog Gryffin five years ago at age four, when he was surrendered after developing diabetes. She feeds a commercial raw diet and says, “We have found that Gryffin does best on Humulin N.  This one works really well for dogs on a raw diet. Gryffin has been nice and stable on the Humulin N for four years now.”

Porcine (derived from pigs) and recombinant human insulin most closely resemble insulin produced by dogs, so they usually work best. Although beef insulin was successfully used before the advent of other choices, it is no longer recommended for dogs because it may result in the production of anti-insulin antibodies, leading to poor glucose control.

Diane Di Salvo of Madison, Wisconsin, whose dog, Scout, developed diabetes two years ago, notes that, “Walmart sells Humulin insulin for way less than vets and other pharmacies. It is the exact same insulin that Eli Lilly makes for all pharmacies, but it is packaged for Walmart under their ReliOn brand.”

Insulin is typically administered twice a day, immediately before or after a meal. Feeding just before giving insulin may be safer, to be sure that the dog eats, because without food the insulin’s effect would be dangerous. Assuming your dog is a chow hound, feeding her after administering insulin can be a reward for submitting to the injection.

However, most dogs don’t mind the injections, which are done with very thin needles. Carol Albert of Kensington, Maryland, has a Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Henry, who developed diabetes four years ago. “Henry gets insulin shots twice daily after meals,” says Albert. “He knows he will get a treat after the injection so he comes looking for me after he eats to get his shot.”

It is important to give insulin injections properly. One of the most common reasons for problems in achieving regulation is that the owner doesn’t inject the dog correctly. If possible, have your veterinarian observe you giving insulin to your dog. 

When a dog is first diagnosed, frequent monitoring, such as every one to two weeks, may be required until the patient is stable and doing well. After that, monitoring every three to six months (veterinary exam, blood test, urinalysis, and urine culture) is recommended. 

Measuring fructosamine (glycated serum protein) is a helpful way to monitor glucose control. If it’s not possible to run glucose curves, this test would be the next best option. Blood glucose fluctuations leave a metabolic mark that lasts a week or two, and fructosamine reflects the average blood glucose over that time span. Because fructosamine looks at averages, it will not distinguish excellent control from wide swings of high to low glucose readings, but even with this limitation, fructosamine is worth including in periodic monitoring tests.

Ketones are water-soluble compounds produced as by-products when fatty acids are broken down for energy in the liver and kidneys. Dangerously high levels of ketones, called ketoacidosis, can lead to diabetic coma or death. Symptoms include nausea, lack of appetite, and lethargy. Ketoacidosis is often linked to concurrent pancreatitis, urinary tract infection, Cushing’s disease, or other types of infection or inflammation.  

Ketostix are used to detect ketones in urine and can be obtained at any pharmacy. Finding ketones occasionally is not a problem, but a positive dipstick three days in a row requires a veterinary visit.

Food for Diabetic Dogs: Choosing the Best Diabetic Dog Food

In humans and felines with type 2 diabetes, diet is a major component of the illness’s cause and treatment. Because the culprits are carbohydrates and obesity, weight loss and a high-protein, low-carb diet are sometimes all the treatment that is needed.

help diabetic dogs

Despite four years of diabetes, Zachary enjoyed life to age 15, thanks to holistic care and careful charting of his blood glucose levels, insulin injections, and food.

But for dogs with type 1 diabetes, there is no single recommended diet. The most important factor is that the dog likes the food and eats it willingly. Most diabetic dogs can be well managed with an adult maintenance diet. A prescription diet is not required. If the dog has another illness, feed a diet appropriate for that illness.

Try to feed the same amount of the same type of food at the same time each day, ideally in two meals 12 hours apart. Any change in carbohydrates will affect the amount of insulin needed. Some dogs may need a snack between meals to keep glucose levels from falling too low.

Fiber and carbohydrates are controversial topics in diabetes treatment, and recommendations are changing. Only a few nutritional studies have been done on dogs with diabetes. Different dogs respond differently to varying amounts of fiber and carbohydrates, and dietary needs vary depending on whether a dog is underweight or overweight, so there is no best dog food for diabetic dogs.

Diabetic dogs may not need a low-fat diet unless they have concurrent pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, elevated triglycerides, elevated cholesterol, or lipemia (fatty blood). However, since the majority of diabetic dogs do have one or more of these concurrent diseases, and since pancreatitis can occur at any time (and chronic pancreatitis may cause problems before it is diagnosed), the majority of diabetic dogs will do better on a diet that is moderately low in fat. To be safe, avoid feeding high-fat diets.

The amount of protein in the diet should be normal or increased, especially for overweight dogs and for underweight dogs with muscle wasting or EPI. Protein should be increased when fat is decreased, to avoid feeding too many carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate Levels in Diabetic Dog Food

Carbohydrates are responsible for the greatest changes in postprandial (after-eating) blood sugar levels. There is a strong association between the insulin dosage requirement and the carbohydrate content of the meal, regardless of carbohydrate source or type. Keeping the amount of carbohydrates in the diet steady is the best way to keep insulin needs stable.

The glycemic index measures the effects of carbohydrates in food on blood sugar levels. It estimates how much each gram of available carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) in a food raises blood glucose level following consumption of the food, relative to consumption of glucose. Glycemic index charts that list hundreds of human foods are widely published.

Low-glycemic foods release glucose slowly and steadily, while high-glycemic foods can cause a more rapid rise in blood glucose levels. Low-glycemic foods include most fruits and vegetables, legumes, some whole grains, and fructose. Medium-glycemic foods include whole wheat products, brown rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, sugar (sucrose), and honey. High-glycemic foods include white rice, white or wheat bread, and glucose.

Simple carbohydrates (sugars, such as corn syrup or propylene glycol, which is found in semi-moist foods) should be avoided, as they cause rapid glucose spikes.

Complex carbohydrates (starches) are digested more slowly so that the rise in glucose is spread out and there are no quick spikes. Processing can affect how quickly carbohydrates are digested.

Carbohydrates are digested faster than fats and proteins, and they have the most effect on postprandial glycemic response and insulin needs. Depending on when the insulin effect peaks, it may be important to include a certain amount of carbohydrates in meals so that the peak effect of injected insulin will coincide with the rise in glucose and not contribute to hypoglycemia.

Highly digestible diets designed for dogs with sensitive stomachs can contribute to higher blood glucose levels after eating, which is not the best thing for a diabetic dog.

Here is how to provide and manage a proper diet for diabetic dogs.

Fiber and Canine Diabetes

Dietary fiber or roughage is the indigestible portion of plant foods. Fiber slows gastric emptying and the digestion of carbohydrates, which also slows the release of glucose, blunting its postprandial rise (blood sugar increases less after meals). Diabetic dogs do not necessarily need more fiber than healthy dogs, and most do well with moderate amounts of fiber. Dogs with poor glycemic control may benefit from increased fiber, but some diabetic dogs do better with less.

There are two types of fiber. Soluble (also called viscous) fiber ferments in the colon, creating gases. Insoluble fiber is metabolically inert, absorbing water as it moves through the digestive tract. Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fiber does not produce intestinal gas.

Examples of soluble fiber include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), pectins, guar gum, lactulose, and psyllium. Most soluble fiber, with the exception of psyllium, is also fermentable. Beet pulp provides mixed soluble and insoluble, moderately fermentable fiber.

Prebiotics are fibers that are both soluble and fermentable. Prebiotics feed probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract and make up an important part of the body’s immune defenses. As it ferments, soluble fiber also produces beneficial short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).

Too much soluble fiber can cause diarrhea and gas, and can actually speed postprandial glucose absorption. Gas is most likely to develop when the fiber is first introduced or when the dose is suddenly increased. To help prevent this side effect, start with small doses and increase gradually.

Insoluble fiber, such as cellulose and bran, regulates intestinal transit time, speeding it during constipation and slowing it during diarrhea. Insoluble fiber increases stool volume, is generally well tolerated even in high doses, and may help with glucose control.

However, in large quantities, insoluble fiber can decrease the diet’s nutrient value by binding minerals. Other side effects associated with diets high in insoluble fiber include weight loss, a lack of interest in food, poor coat quality, vomiting, voluminous feces, flatulence, diarrhea, and constipation. Increased fiber is not recommended for underweight dogs, dogs who refuse to eat because of the fiber’s taste or texture, or dogs who experience adverse side effects.

It is important to provide ample fluids when adding fiber because they pull water from the body, which can lead to constipation and other problems if fluid intake is insufficient.

Examples of products that contain soluble fiber include Benefiber (wheat dextrin) and Hydrocil (psyllium). Citrucel is an example of a product that contains insoluble fiber (methylcellulose).

General Guidelines for Managing Diabetes in Dogs

The amount of starch in the diet is not as important as making sure it’s consistent and properly balanced with insulin. Dogs fed diets containing more starch may need more insulin or a different type of insulin than dogs fed a low-carb diet.

Limiting carbohydrates may reduce postprandial hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), but if the dog continues to have wide glucose level swings throughout the day on a low-carb diet, he might do better with more carbohydrates. If dietary protein is reduced for any reason, carbohydrates will usually increase, especially if fat is restricted. Dogs with gestational diabetes may benefit from a diet that is high in protein with restricted carbohydrates and fats, as long as their nutritional needs are met.

If a thin dog fails to gain weight once there is good glycemic control and the food intake is adequate (and not too high in fiber), concurrent EPI may be interfering with digestion. Overweight dogs who fail to lose weight once their diabetes is controlled may be getting too much insulin.

“We know that in both dogs and cats, obesity in general is a problem,” says David Bruyette, DVM, DACVIM, medical director at VCA West Lost Angeles Medical Hospital, “and obese dogs and cats tend to be resistant to the effects of insulin, so we want to have animals at an ideal body weight. If they are too heavy, they can develop insulin resistance, and if they are too thin, they can develop ketoacidosis.”

  • The most important factor is that your dog likes his food and eats it willingly every time.
  • Most diabetic dogs can eat a typical moderate-fiber maintenance diet. They don’t need a high-fiber prescription food.
  • It is fine to feed a high-protein diet, but that is not a requirement.
  • The diet must be consistent, particularly in the amount of carbohydrates, and should be fed in the same quantities at the same time each day.
  • Not every diabetic dog requires a low-fat diet, but because of the disease’s strong links to pancreatitis and other fat disorders, a diet moderately low in fat may be safest, even for dogs who have not been diagnosed with pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease, or hyperlipidemia.

Exercise and Activity for Diabetic Dogs

Exercise has a dramatic effect on blood sugar levels. In humans with type 2 diabetes, exercise reduces blood sugar so effectively that patients who walk or jog reduce their need for added insulin.

But for those with type 1 diabetes, including dogs, exercise can be both a blessing and a complication. Exercise can reduce insulin resistance in obese diabetics, but too much exercise can lead to hypoglycemia.

Exercise should be consistent in terms of the type of activity and time of day, avoiding intermittent or unplanned strenuous exercise. One good approach is to exercise the dog for 20 to 30 minutes before the evening meal and its administration of insulin. Additional exercise can be added to the day’s activities if the insulin dose is adjusted. For example, if a strenuous hike is planned, the morning insulin might be skipped or only half of the usual insulin administered in order to avoid exercise-induced hypoglycemia.

Choosing the Right Diabetes Supplements for Your Dog

Some supplements may help your diabetic dog while others should be added with caution or not at all. Anything that helps lower blood glucose levels may change insulin needs.

When using human supplements, give the full human dose to large dogs, half that much to medium-sized dogs, and ¼ the adult human dose to small dogs. Tiny dogs require even smaller doses.

L-Carnitine, a conditionally essential amino acid, plays a pivotal role in fatty acid metabolism. It may help control diabetes, improve fat metabolism, maintain lean body mass, and protect muscles from catabolism during weight loss. As little as 50 milligrams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of dry food may make a beneficial difference. Note that beef is a particularly good source of l‑carnitine, with about 80 mg per 3-ounce portion.

Chromium supplements are often recommended for human diabetes patients (especially those with type 2 diabetes), but don’t seem to benefit a dog’s type 1 diabetes. This supplement is recommended only for dogs with a chromium deficiency.

Zinc is an important mineral for diabetic patients, but it’s toxic to dogs if too much is given. Supplementation should be limited to a standard human or canine vitamin-mineral supplement daily.

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA may help to reduce blood lipid levels (hyperlipidemia) and inflammation as well as regulate the immune system. Human studies show, however, that too much may reduce glycemic control in some patients. EPA and DHA are found in fish, most fish oils, and some algae supplements. An appropriate dose might be 300 mg combined EPA and DHA per 20 to 30 pounds of body weight daily (or per 10 pounds of body weight for hyperlipidemia or kidney disease), preferably split between meals.

Probiotics and cranberry extract can help to prevent urinary tract infections. D-mannose works the same way as cranberry, by preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, but it is a sugar and some research has found that it may make blood sugar levels harder to control in humans with diabetes.

Digestive enzymes may be helpful for some dogs, particularly those who have had pancreatitis (dogs with EPI need prescription-strength enzymes).

Some products affect blood sugar levels and so should be avoided or used with caution. Licorice can elevate blood sugar, while devil’s claw, ginger, and marshmallow can lower it. Amitraz, the active ingredient in Preventic collars, Certifect (new flea and tick control product), and Mitaban (used to treat demodex), can cause elevated blood sugar and should not be used in diabetic dogs.

Glucosamine, on the other hand, should be safe for diabetic dogs. Early research suggested it might raise blood sugar, but more recent and reliable studies refuted those findings. Monitor blood sugar levels after starting to be sure.

The Best Treats for Diabetic Dogs

Between-meal treats are important, whether they’re training tools, blood sugar stabilizers, afternoon snacks, or rewards for submitting to blood tests and insulin injections.

Avoid treats that are high in carbohydrates or sugar, including all semi-moist commercial foods and treats that use propylene glycol or similar ingredients.

Dehydrated meats make excellent treats, but be sure to avoid those made in China. Chicken jerky treats (also called tenders or strips) manufactured in China have been linked to kidney failure in dogs. Check package labels carefully.

Because dried meat or poultry treats made in the U.S. can be expensive, many pet owners make their own. Simply cut meat or poultry into thin slices for drying in a food dehydrator or baking in a slow oven (250 to 300 degrees F) until they reach your dog’s preferred state of crunchiness.

Other safe between-meal diabetic dog treats include green beans – raw, cooked, canned, or frozen – or fresh, crunchy snap peas or carrot sticks; sardines or tuna packed in water; small amounts of canned pumpkin (plain, not the pie mix); freeze-dried liver; dried salmon; hard-boiled eggs; cheese (be careful of too much fat); bully sticks; dried beef tendons; chicken feet; and most low-carb treats formulated for dogs or cats.

Don't Be Overwhelmed by the Diagnosis

Caring for a dog with diabetes can be time-consuming, expensive, and stressful. In fact, the initial diagnosis can be overwhelming.

According to Dr. Bruyette, “Several studies have shown that euthanasia is a common cause of death in diabetic dogs and cats mainly as a result of the owners’ concerns, real or perceived, regarding the care of pets with diabetes. It is very important that we emphasize to pet owners that while diabetes is a chronic disease, it can be well controlled with minimal disruption of their lives while maintaining their pet’s quality of life.”

Sheila Laing of Lansing, Michigan, cared for her Lab/Shepherd-mix, Zachary, for four years after he was diagnosed with diabetes at age 11. “Zachy was my soulmate and my teacher,” she says. “I am so lucky that I was able to help him lead a healthy normal life in his senior years in spite of the diabetes. People need to know that diabetes doesn’t have to be a death sentence. It can be managed!”

CJ Puotinen lives in Montana. She is the author of The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care and other books, and a frequent contributor to WDJ. Mary Straus is the owner of DogAware.com.

Comments (39)

My dog it is been a Diabetic for 6 years. She gets insulin twice a day and since the diagnosis we went crazy looking for help from other dog owners to guide us trough this. After a lot of search we found this wonderful product from Petwellbeign.com called Blood Sugar Gold.
It has made a big difference, she still gets insulin but her diabetes is controlled. We use dry kibble food (excellent brands like Nulo or Halo based on sweet potato and chicken or lamb. No rice or grains).

My other dog was diagnosed with kidney problems and we started with other of their products called Kidney Support gold.
My vet told me my dog will last just a few months with his kidney but lasted me 3 years earn I adjusted the diet and added the kidney supplement.
I hope this comment helps someone looking for help with this diseases.

Posted by: crisandthetroop | January 18, 2019 6:23 PM    Report this comment

my Chesapeake has just been diagnosed with diabetes, owned fur babies all my life and this is my first experience with diabetes, to say i am overwhelmed was an understatement, so thank you for this article, i will have to re read when not so emotional to fully take in all thats been said, my beautiful boy is only just turned 8, i am devastated and so scared for him. but this has shone a small glimmer of light into that darkness, so thank you!

Posted by: poorlypup | January 7, 2019 11:34 AM    Report this comment

My wife was a diabetes patient since 2010 she was using insulin humulin N and R with doses of 10 and 8 respectively in the mornings after meals. Her eyes was weak she feels pain in her legs and feet she was becoming and weaker and weaker. On the advice of the Doctor she started insulin but no fruitful results was achieved,if not for Total Cure Herbal Foundation i dont know what could ave happened,visit their website or email
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Posted by: favourjoy | November 14, 2017 1:40 AM    Report this comment

Great article..I would like to learn more about lack of predictive nadirs when using NPH on dogs. In addition, most DVM's discourage Lantus use in dogs. Therefore, we must use NPH..Also,the Somogyi effect addresses "real" hypoglycemia and not simply a pattern of low BG over several days followed by a large BG spike. Is this considered a mini-somogyi effect?

Posted by: Bichons9 | September 22, 2017 12:53 PM    Report this comment

My little 11 year old Min-Pin mix, Reesie, was diagnosed with pancreatitis in May, 2015. Her vet prescribed the low fat Hill's ID Science Diet which is full of rice, corn and other carbs. In February. 2017, Reesie was diagnosed with diabetes after I noticed her increased appetite along with drinking way more water than usual, peeing a lot and having accidents in the house which is completely out of the norm for her. Reesie was 18.8 lbs in early February and as of yesterday, her weight was down to 14.11. The vet has increased her insulin in increments, but she continues to be hungry all the time. Initially, I tried feeding her a little more food, but then her blood glucose shoots up and she is drinking and peeing again. My former dainty eater wolfs down her food like she is starving....because she is....jand that is ripping my heart out!!! I did not know anything about insulin resistance until I began reading these blogs last night. I could not even respond because I began to cry and could not stop for hours. Like the others with similar situations, I am desperate for answers. My baby girl is so sweet and trusting and humble. It breaks my heart to see her enduring pokes and shots, crying every time we pull up to the vet's office and pleading for food that I cannot give her. My baby girl is wasting away. She is still so full of fun and love and life. Please someone....anyone....if you have any insight or answers .... please let us know ASAP...before its too late.

Posted by: DottieB | May 8, 2017 12:58 AM    Report this comment

There's a lot of great information here. I would like to add though - the traditional signs one would look for - didn't hold true for our dog. She was peeing a bit more - but she was also fighting a UTI before being diagnosed. She did not drink more. She did lose some weight - 5lbs when I took her back to the vet and expressed to the vet she was experiencing incontinence...a lot of it, seemed a bit depressed (you could see it in her eyes/face), and I noticed the weight loss. The vet was confident that all this was due to Gracie aging (she's 10yo). I went on to talking about a foul sweet smelling odor that I'd been fighting at home. I originally thought a cat had been spraying in my room b/c of the stray coming around. The smell was following me though as time went on after tearing my house apart and deep cleaning it. It followed me to the car the day I took Gracie to the vet. The vet passed this off as urine being on Gracie's fur. I asked if Gracie could have cancer or be diabetic - the reason for the foul sweet smell, thinking that often times when humans are sick - they have a foul odor to them. That said, they got a sample of urine and two days later I got a call saying I was right - Gracie has a UTI and a high level of glucose in her urine, she needed to be seen right away. Her blood sugar was 445 the day I took her back. Excessive drinking began AFTER she was diagnosed. Gracie's breath didn't smell as they say you might notice - it was her whole body. I write this right now and am getting ready to do a blood sugar on her - I venture to say her bs is high right now...I can smell her. I'm sure this was due to the stress of being at the groomer's today.

Posted by: Spar | April 29, 2017 9:32 PM    Report this comment

My 12 year old JR was diagnosed with cushings and later diabetis. He is on 4 units Trilostane paste in the morningsfor the cushings and insulin 12 units morning and evening. His diet consists of chicken and rice morning and evening. The rice being very little and the chicken quite a lot. Sometimes the chicken will be replaced with oily fish which he likes. He does not like kibble. In the middle of the day he will get scrambeled egg or tinned diabetic dog food. After his injections he gets a slice or two of beef jerky I make as a treat. This is his favourite. He is a very picky eater but normally is allways hungry.His weight is fine. He drinks quite a bit water and pees quite frequently.However I struggle to control his glucose levels. Sometimes he is nauseous and does not want to eat and drink. After 8 hrs of this i take him to the vet so he can be hydrated. This happens about every 3 months his glucose levels are then very bigh. Are there any ideas how I can control his levels. 3 months ago he went blind overnight. Could only distinguish between light and dark. Cataracts were removed and new lens implants. A very simple overnight procedure. Could see immediately. Now I dont have to carry him around. His vision is perfect. He is so thankful and doesnt leave my side. Was so rewarding to give him his sight back. If only it was so easy to sort out the glucose levels and cushings

Posted by: Charlotte Nieman | June 19, 2016 1:26 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for your very helpful article. Your presentation of the facts, with the encouragement to use common sense and an owner's dog sensitivity, will be my guide as I spend a couple of hours reading labels and coming up with a diet that works for my Scout.

Posted by: wjmccroskey | February 24, 2016 9:03 AM    Report this comment

Thank you for this informative article! I learned quite a bit.
My 11yo bichon X poodle was just diagnosed. He's been on a raw diet for 5 years now (one, 200g skinless chicken thigh per day) I was giving him 4-5 mini bone-shaped dog treats per day but have since switched to homemade dried beef 'jerky' (nothing added)
He's on 5iu twice daily but I measured his fasting blood sugar the other day and it was very high. I had just got the meter and tested it on myself and compared with my mother's meter and it's working properly, so it's not that. I don't see how it's so high as he only eats protein? I'm going to try and incorporate some fibre in his diet (coconut flour/pumpkin treats) and see how he does with that.
For those having issues with syringes, I suggest VetPen. The needles are small and silicone-coated so they're virtually pain-free. I buy his supplies online and it costs me 3x LESS than getting the syringes/vial for my vet! He used to yelp occasionally with the syringe. He doesn't even flinch with VetPen needles.
Anyway, if anyone has suggestions on how to reduce his BG, please feel free. I'd prefer not to go back to the vet as they want to put him on THEIR food (corn-based and $80/mo) and just walking in the door costs $60.

Posted by: Nolly | November 25, 2015 5:16 PM    Report this comment

My doxie Corneilus was just diagnosed with Diabetes. He was so sick when I came home from work today that I was terrified he was dying. After a rush to the emergency vet, he was diagnosed. It turns out he is currently suffering from Ketoacidosis and has to be monitored constantly at the vet hospital. I'm still terrified he's not going to be ok. I have to leave him at the vet until he's turned the corner.

If anyone has the ability, please help Cornelius with this (enormous and growing) stay at the vet: gofundme.com/corneliusthedoxie

I can honestly say I didn't know this was even an illness dogs suffered from until just a few hours ago.

Posted by: Christinschu | April 1, 2015 1:30 AM    Report this comment

My Jack Russell has been diabetic for nearly 2 years. I cannot get his diabetes under control. The vet has changed him from Novulin 10 units to Vetsulin (starting at 4 to 8 units in one weeks time) He has now begun to growl at me when I try to give him his shot. The vetsulin syringes are longer and bend very easily when he moves. I would like to put him back on the Novalin since it is 1/2 the price, and I am not getting any better results with the vetsulin. He has been tested 3x in 2 weeks and his level jumped over 200 points in one hour to over 600. Yet when I bring him home from the vets, he is running around and having a grand old time like nothing was wrong. His pancreas has been checked and he has no infection anywhere. He is being fed holistic food as he refused the WD food at the vets no matter how much I disguised it. Is there a simpler way to give the shots? The Vetsulin is supposed to be given up and down his back, but he doesn't really have enough skin to gather there. He was much better when I gave him the Novalin in his neck. I really wish there was a pill for him to take......His energy level is good and still runs around despite sight in only one eye left at around 10%. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Posted by: pfrazz | March 25, 2015 7:52 PM    Report this comment

As I said earlier Paddy has lived with diabetes and food restrictions for 7years. My vet concedes that I probably know more about it than he does. Paddy started on 9units of caninsulin 2xdaily with food. He has James Wellbeloved fish and veg (no grains at all not even rice) half a days portion morning and night mixed with a small amount of either fish or chicken to encourage him to eat it. He does not always eat the biscuits so I leave them down and he will return later if he needs to eat. He has a blood test every six months to test his glucose levels and how well controlled his diabetes is. More recently his insulin has been raised to 11 units 2xdaily.
I don't understand why human insulin is being used rather than canine insulin unless it is too expensive. I have pet insurance so it pays the majority although not all the costs. Paddys diet restrictions due to colitis cause more problems. His diabetes has to fit in with his diet.

Posted by: Nat | March 19, 2015 9:02 AM    Report this comment

My Westie Paddy was diagnosed at the age of seven. He had become so weak he could not walk across the road and was wetting everywhere including the bed! I was afraid he would die! He hated his twice daily jabs but I realised that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind! I had to muzzle him and tie his lead to a dining chair. He also had skin allergies and colitis caused by diet so he already had restrictions on his diet. Fish,chicken and vegetables I was told to inject every twelve hours but realised that this could cause problems with sugar levels if he refused to eat.
I have been injecting him just after he has eaten. If he does not eat he does not get the jab, my biggest fear is insulin overdose! These days he asks for his jab and sometimes we have a bit of a stand off with him waiting for it prior to eating and me waiting for him to eat.
He does now have cataracts and his hearing is very poor. He is fed James welbeloved fish and veg kibble mixed with a little fish or chicken. He won't eat the kibble alone.
He is at times still as frisky as a puppy although at fourteen he can be a grumpy old man.
Yes he is 14 and still going strong. Travelling can be difficult but the newcaninsulin pen means that I can keep his insulin in the pen holder rather than trying to keep vials cool in flasks with ice.
Good luck with your furry friends. They can live a long and healthy life even after diagnosis

Posted by: Nat | March 19, 2015 8:34 AM    Report this comment

My Westie Paddy was diagnosed at the age of seven. He had become so weak he could not walk across the road and was wetting everywhere including the bed! I was afraid he would die! He hated his twice daily jabs but I realised that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind! I had to muzzle him and tie his lead to a dining chair. He also had skin allergies and colitis caused by diet so he already had restrictions on his diet. Fish,chicken and vegetables I was told to inject every twelve hours but realised that this could cause problems with sugar levels if he refused to eat.
I have been injecting him just after he has eaten. If he does not eat he does not get the jab, my biggest fear is insulin overdose! These days he asks for his jab and sometimes we have a bit of a stand off with him waiting for it prior to eating and me waiting for him to eat.
He does now have cataracts and his hearing is very poor. He is fed James welbeloved fish and veg kibble mixed with a little fish or chicken. He won't eat the kibble alone.
He is at times still as frisky as a puppy although at fourteen he can be a grumpy old man.
Yes he is 14 and still going strong. Travelling can be difficult but the newcaninsulin pen means that I can keep his insulin in the pen holder rather than trying to keep vials cool in flasks with ice.
Good luck with your furry friends. They can live a long and healthy life even after diagnosis

Posted by: Nat | March 19, 2015 8:31 AM    Report this comment

Very informative reading. My 8 yr old Yorkie was just diagnosed with diabetes yesterday and will start insulin injections today. I spent all of last night and this morning searching for homemade recipes and found quite a few that I know she'll like. I've been feeding her the Costco brand organic dog food so my plan is to mix the two for her. I must add that in 2009 she was also diagnosed with Cushings but after reading reviews of the medications was never treated because the treatments back then were a nightmare not to mention, deadly. Hopefully the home cooking diabetic diet and insulin injections will keep her living for years to come.

Posted by: Izzymae | March 18, 2015 10:10 AM    Report this comment

My dog is a diabetic. He has been for about two (2) yrs now. No matter what we do we cannot get his sugar levels down.It was just 448. I cut out all people food switched to vet recommended dog food give him his two shots a day faithfully! He is 13 yrs old & is now blind due to his diabetes. But he still acts like a dog much younger with a strong will to keep going on. My problem is that I am finding it harder & harder to understand the types of foods that are good for him & what to stay away from. I've talked to the vet but like many doctors I only understand half of what they say. So I buy the foods they say state they are for diabetic dogs. My dog hates it! He wont eat it at all. The vet says to mix his other food with it but he smells it and walks away. I feel so bad! I looked online a hundred times & again I don't understand the language. I need simple answers. Like certain dry food that could be good. Not the ingredients to look for. Can anyone please help me? My dog might be getting worse & I am desperate! PLEASE HELP!

Posted by: Rocky Capone | January 19, 2015 4:27 PM    Report this comment

We feed our diabetic Rat Terrier a mix of Wellness Core dry adult and a variety of the Wellness "stew" formulas. It is a protein focused diet and he has done well on it for the past 3 years since his diagnosis.

Posted by: Wwles | January 14, 2015 12:06 AM    Report this comment

Dixie a terrier mix was diagnosed with diabetes in June 2014. Tried Hills W/D and she wouldn't eat it. She would eat Royal Canin Diabetec. For 2 1/2 months she ate this food and here glucose levels were regulated. From then on she will not eat it. She will eat a new food for 2 days at the most and then she no longer wants to eat it. Because of the diabetes, I can't just wait until she gets hungry and decides to eat, because I she needs the shot. I work and therefore am not home all day to monitor her. I end up giving her 2 or 3 choices, canned, dry, canned and dry, home prepared you name it I try it, she will eat one of them, maybe for a day or 2. I'm afraid so afraid for this little dog. The vet isn't much help. Has anyone else had this problem? I need help desperately.

Posted by: Linda F | November 24, 2014 7:11 PM    Report this comment


Posted by: Sabojonii | October 21, 2014 11:18 AM    Report this comment

Here is an excellent facebook group to help with whatever questions you may have:

Posted by: Sabojonii | October 21, 2014 11:18 AM    Report this comment

My fox terrier Ringo is 7 years old and was just diagnosed with diabetes. He was kept end of last week thru yesterday evening (10-14-14) to be watched and get his sugars regulated. I am to give him 2 units of insulin twice daily after him eating. He is very weak right now and I have to make him eat forcefully.

Can anyone tell me what kind of food I can feed him to increase his energy levels and also what, if any seasonings are safe to use to intice him to want to eat his food. He drinks water okay but as weak as he is, I take him from bed and stand him in front of the water bowl. I tried feeding him water thru a syringe I have for injecting seasoning into meats before cooking but he didn't like that method.

Since I am new to all this and worried about my canine friend any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. When I asked the vet what and how frequent to feed my dog, he said feed him anything I could get him to eat. That wasn't particularly helpful.

Thanks again for any advice or comments.


Posted by: fortychevyrod | October 15, 2014 7:42 AM    Report this comment

My fox terrier Ringo is 7 years old and was just diagnosed with diabetes. He was kept end of last week thru yesterday evening (10-14-14) to be watched and get his sugars regulated. I am to give him 2 units of insulin twice daily after him eating. He is very weak right now and I have to make him eat forcefully.

Can anyone tell me what kind of food I can feed him to increase his energy levels and also what, if any seasonings are safe to use to intice him to want to eat his food. He drinks water okay but as weak as he is, I take him from bed and stand him in front of the water bowl. I tried feeding him water thru a syringe I have for injecting seasoning into meats before cooking but he didn't like that method.

Since I am new to all this and worried about my canine friend any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. When I asked the vet what and how frequent to feed my dog, he said feed him anything I could get him to eat. That wasn't particularly helpful.

Thanks again for any advice or comments.


Posted by: fortychevyrod | October 15, 2014 5:32 AM    Report this comment

My fox terrier Ringo is 7 years old and was just diagnosed with diabetes. He was kept end of last week thru yesterday evening (10-14-14) to be watched and get his sugars regulated. I am to give him 2 units of insulin twice daily after him eating. He is very weak right now and I have to make him eat forcefully.

Can anyone tell me what kind of food I can feed him to increase his energy levels and also what, if any seasonings are safe to use to intice him to want to eat his food. He drinks water okay but as weak as he is, I take him from bed and stand him in front of the water bowl. I tried feeding him water thru a syringe I have for injecting seasoning into meats before cooking but he didn't like that method.

Since I am new to all this and worried about my canine friend any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. When I asked the vet what and how frequent to feed my dog, he said feed him anything I could get him to eat. That wasn't particularly helpful.

Thanks again for any advice or comments.


Posted by: fortychevyrod | October 15, 2014 4:39 AM    Report this comment

Last week,our 9 1/2 year old Brittany was admitted for tests because he was drinking and urinating excessively, seemed withdrawn, had a dull coat, and was panting. He was diagnosed with diabetes and had ketones in his urine. Tests were performed for Cushings disease, and an ultra-sound was performed. He was put on Hills w/d with 8 units of Novolin two times a day to begin with. He weighs 60 lbs, so we knew this was a small dose for him. Four days later, he is still drinking and urinating, is sleeping most of the time, doesn't have much of an appetite, and looks glassy eyed. We're taking him back for glucose monitoring. Thankfully, Cushings tests were negative. Does anyone have some info about diet? Can we prepare his food? The prescription diet is very expensive, especially since we have another Brittany. What do some of you feed your diabetic dogs?

Posted by: Goldlander | October 14, 2014 9:07 PM    Report this comment

My Lil poodle was just diagnosed with diabetes and is currently in ER atm. Thankfully he is getting better and responding well to treatment. Your article is well written and I'm glad I found it. It has helped me get a better understanding of what's going on and what I need to do. Thank you!!

Posted by: Sabojonii | October 11, 2014 5:42 PM    Report this comment

I came across this site and was reading other's comments and I felt I had to share our experience. Our 12-year old Havenese little girl was diagnosed in May with diabetes. What prompted the vet visit was her unsatiable thirst and her wetting the bed ... in no time, she literally was peeing while she laid on the bed and then not even moving from the spot. Her diagnosis was a shock, to say the least ... "What? A diabetic dog?!?!" Our long-time vet showed me how to give the insulin shots, prescribed her 6 units 2x a day (she was about 18 pounds at the time) and pretty much sent me on our way. Needless to say, giving her a shot was NOT in her plans and, although NOT an agressive dog, she fought as much as she could (just short of actually biting us). I ended up having her doggie daycare administer the shots and then we moved ... so then I resigned myself to not giving her the insulin at all (although I knew she needed it) and tried to adjust her diet. Our other dog had went through allergy shots as a pup and I wasn't about to go through that trauma 2x a day (the allergy shots were 3x/week). Then, she started acting "off," and finally quit eating and drinking. I had been doing my online research and I knew it was the diabetes. With the trauma we were experiencing trying to just give her the shots, I knew we'd NEVER be able to check her blood glucose. I decided to buy some Bayer Diastix urinalysis test strips that test glucose and ketones, but they had not arrived yet. I just happened to come across some ketone only strips on clearance at a store and bought some. The day she quit eating/drinking, we tested her urine for ketones ... off the chart! I knew she had to go the hospital. Her ketones were 80, her blood glucose was about 450. She spent 2 days in the hospital getting insulin once an HOUR and fluids. The doctor frankly told us, if you aren't going to give the insulin, then you need to consider euthanasia. We knew we had failed our little girl. So, my husband and I "grew up," and decided we needed to take charge. After being "stuck" every hour for 2 days, we thought, for sure, she'd be used to the insulin shots and maybe this whole EXPENSIVE ordeal was for the best as we learned some additional things, as well. The doc mentioned that our little girl was NOT cooperative at first with the shots, but she finally succumbed. So, my husband took on the job of "shot giver." I fix her meal, get her fed, take her out, and about 20-30 minutes after she eats, my husband puts her on the table, makes her lay down, puts her leash on her and holds the leash taut with his elbow while petting her with his hand, and with his other hand, he gives the shot. She gets a treat afterwards and more love. She has become accustomed to this routine, does not fight the shot, and we finally received our Diastix test strips and we check her urine almost every time she goes pee. We understand that the urine strips are a delayed reading, but at least it is something. We have a good idea now when her glucose is high and when it is low. We are feeding her Hill's W/D right now based on a vet's recommendation, but there are a few things that we've noticed with that food ... decreased water intake and LOTS of poop (though firm, not dry). We are considering Merrick or Nutrisca instead. I read a lot of reviews of the Hill's that indicated others were experiencing the decreased water intake and increase of poop, as well. Both are troublesome to me, so that is where we are right now.

Posted by: MJBrown | August 4, 2014 11:09 PM    Report this comment

I have a 10 year old Westie who was diagnosed with diabetes 2 years ago. He eats a prescribed diabetic dog food, is on 15 units of insulin, is now developing cataracts, thin, no muscle mass. It seems his diabetes is advancing in spite of the vet's recommendations.
Is there any way to slow it down? I'm guessing that, by what I've been told and read, he has about a year or less. Has anyone gone through this? I had had several dogs over the years but diabetes is the worst and my first experience. Thanks for any information.

Posted by: Bridget | July 11, 2014 9:34 AM    Report this comment

My dog Bella, who's a 10 year old Yellow Lab, was diagnosed yesterday with Diabetes.
She is still at the Vet having tests. This article was very informative. I will have to give her shots everyday for the rest of her life. The Vet said we caught it early and her vision is not affective.
She had a good night and is doing good on the insulin.
Thank you for this article.

Posted by: pattylee | June 13, 2014 11:30 AM    Report this comment

In January 2013, we noticed our six year old lab acting not quite herself. One day I took a close look at her eyes and noticed they were cloudy. That was the beginning of many trips to different vets to diagnose Lola correctly. She was diabetic, blind and also had vestibular disease. Thank goodness we found a vet who has been a lifesaver. He has really taken the time to perform the necessary tests to check her thoroughly since she was insulin resistant from the beginning. Our vet also referred Lola to an ophthalmologist who performed successful cataract surgery on my baby girl. We have been through a lot with Lola and have paid quite a bit in doctors bills and procedures but we made the choice to help her as much as we could. It's been a huge learning curve. We recently found out she has hypothyroidism which is why she was not regulating properly. Lola's been on thyroid medication for a week and a half and we can already see an improvement in her BG readings.
Prior to being diagnosed, my baby girl was happy and full of energy. I can tell she's feeling better because she's acting life her old self.
For anyone who is helping their beloved pet cope with this illness, please don't give up. I know Lola is on the road to leading a normal, happy life but I couldn't have done it without my vet and his amazing team.

Posted by: Unknown | April 26, 2013 11:35 PM    Report this comment

My 12 year old jack russell ,Bailey, has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. My husband and I were just shocked as to how "out of the blue" this came his way. We feel as if we are back in the newborn days (of our children), as we are up 2-3 times in the night dealing with the frequent urination and his desperate attempts to find any source of water...including his own urine at times :( We have learned to to give him insulin twice a day and he was supposed to go in for the glucose curve today, but something else came up in his condition. We woke up to him being very lethargic and not wanting water or a snack of any kind. He was having trouble walking and my husband brought him in to the vet, only to find out that his blood sugar levels were dangerously high and that he was toxic. I was stunned, because he has been getting insulin for a few weeks and although it was not regulated to the perfect dose-it was a work in progress, we thought it was helping him to stay away from a toxic state. He now has to stay in the hospital for the next 2 days, on an IV and regulating his levels...we can't even do the glucose curve now. This has been so upsetting and draining at the same time, our poor little guy. But, he is our boy and his demeanor has been holding up very well...we will do what we can to get him healthy, he is so loved. Can anyone recommend a type of diaper for him...we have gone through the throwaway kind (useless) and the washable one with inserts...but even that one tends to fall off. Also, did your vet give you something so you can test his blood sugar? we didn't get anything...at least not yet. I hope everybody else's dogs are in their best health since diagnosis and pray for the same for my Bailey Boy...

Posted by: Tanksmomma | February 18, 2013 7:28 AM    Report this comment

Since my last dog (pomeranian)died of Diabetes, I learned that regular Vets don't know squat. My other dog (pomeranian) has Diabetes also and so I got a new Vet that is also a Nutritionist and he has helped my dog a lot. Go buy Gastriplex and give it to your dog once a day with meals. The food that helps my dog is Tripe made by Tripett (which is animal stomach lining), it stinks so bad that the dogs will love it. Inside the food I can hide his multi vitamins, B12, pre-biotics and pro-biotics, Gastriplex and Iron. I also give him Greek Yogurt once a day. Because of the gut being inflamed, your dog can not absorb nutrients. Your dog will be low on B12 and Iron. Have your dog checked on what vitamins and minerals are missing. Diabetes cause nerve damage and vitamin B12 is the best for fixing nerves (for people too). Always test your dogs blood glucose with a meter. The meter is usualy wrong because the blood clots as it slowly comes up to the surface and gives a wrong reading. I go through a lot of test strips just to be sure of the actual reading (100 test strips a week). Half unit of Insulin means that glucose levels will drop 50 points. One unit of insulin means that it will drop 100 points. If the dog is sleeping or not eating for 5 hours it will drop automatically 50 points. When you walk the dog, glucose readings will drop 50 points. If you give your dog too much insulin, cortisol will kick in to protect the dog from death and could bring up glucose readings to 800 or more. If this keeps happening, the dog will get pancreatitis, IBS, etc. You must stop the inflammation - that's the key. Even mild inflammation to the gut will make the dog insulin resistant and that will cause him/her to starve by not absorbing nutrients. You may see your dog eating a lot of grass, soil or poop - that's because they need nutrients and live enzymes. My dog eats the soil because he has an inflamed gut but after I started him on Gastriplex he stopped eating soil. It's OK if your dog eats grass and soil, it's not harmful and the dogs know what they need to heal themselves (unlike people). Buy a juicer and toss in broccoli and an apple and squirt it in his mouth. The dog must drink it right away or the live enzymes will die within 5 minutes or so. My Vet and I don't believe that dogs have Type 1 Diabetes because the symptoms are more closely related to Type 2 Diabetes (which could be controlled with the right diet). It's a battle but I will never give up. Good luck to everyone.

Posted by: Rose K. | January 30, 2013 5:31 PM    Report this comment

Great article. New solution for diabetic dogs. Helps with insulin sensitivity. It works quickly. Dia-Treaties by Vintek Nutrition. Check out the site (vinteknutrition_com), the videos, testimonials, etc. Dealing with dog diabetes just became much simpler. Veterinary tested 4+ years.

Posted by: vinteknutrition | January 20, 2013 10:48 AM    Report this comment

Our 7 1/2 year old black lab went into diabetic crisis a few days ago. We did not know she was diabetic. The vet bills are mounting (2 days at the clinic and 1 night in the hospital). She is home with us now, but doesn't seem to be responding well. We are having to liquefy her food and syringe feed her just so that we can administer insulin. I'm hoping that we can learn more and get her to start eating on her own. My greatest fear right now is that she was too far gone (in crisis) and we will have to have her put to sleep. I'm with you, Gerry... those large dark lab eyes are breaking my heart that Mom can't "fix this".

Posted by: northwestmom | January 13, 2013 8:41 PM    Report this comment


Our puggle, Hootch, was put in the hospital the Saturday before Christmas in diabetic crisis. We didn't even know she had diabetes, her blood sugar levels haven't been below 600 since Christmas. Her body is rejecting the insulin, thousands of dollars later we are still dealing with high blood sugar levels. Her vet said it was Cushing's that was causing the body to reject the insulin, then her thyroid was tested and we are now waiting to see if the medication she is on for the thyroid will start allowing her body to accept the insulin. Unfortunately the medication takes about 3 weeks to start working, in the mean time she's lost most of her vision due to the diabetes, she's lost a ton of wait, she's on medication to help keep her liver healthy and her blood sugar is still extremely high. I'm at a loss here..we don't know which way to go. The food cost is ridiculous, we are trying to find alternatives to her diet. I've been trying to read about various homemade dog foods and other foods that we can try that will be healthier and less expensive. I understand your frustration!! I'm right there with you. I am currently going to be seeking a second opinion of what is causing her body to reject the insulin, I'm so scared with such a high blood sugar level that more damage is being caused to her other organs. If I receive any answers I will definitely keep you informed.

I too would appreciate any assistance you may find out as well. I'm just at a loss her and I feel as if we've hit a brick wall with answers :(

Posted by: Hootchs Mom Dawn | January 12, 2013 4:53 PM    Report this comment

My sympathies Peggy. Our dog has been diagnosed as diabetic too, and isn't responding to Insulin as we would like. The American measure vs the Canadian is, I believe about 20x - ie your reading of 1000 would translate to a value we measure as 50. Our pet is in the range of 25 - 30 (500 - 600) and despite feeding her Medical Diabetic food, and twice daily injections of 12 units of Insulin, her readings are still quite high. Our insulin is the porcine type (Caninsulin)but she seems to be resistant to the treatment.

As you have found, treatment, and vet bills are high, and appear to be prohibitive. At $155 per day to do a glucose curve for her, $70 for a #15 bag of dry dog food, over $100 for a blood analysis etc. I can see where it is not possible to continue with treatments that aren't effective and unending vet bills with no postitve resolution available indefinitely.

I also would appreciate any specific advice from others who have encountered this type of problem and have resolved it. I am having a lot of difficulty facing those large dark Lab eyes trusting that I will look after her, when I can't seem to find a solution.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Posted by: Gerald E | January 11, 2013 1:45 AM    Report this comment

my 12lb dog was hospitalized twice for ketoacidosis. after the second bout i was told that he is not using his insulin. i was also told there is no way to know why. while in the hospital he was checked given ultrasounds, checked for infections and everything else possible. nothing was found. he is now dying. his blood sugar gets up to 1000. he is only 9 years old. even if i had the money, and i no longer have - this has been very expensive and the vets were worse than useless - i cannot just have him hospitalized every year just to keep him alive, it resolves nothing. there must be something i can do. we are now on our own. he has been on a raw food diet for about 4 years. we do everything naturally, so herbs and supplements, no tap water, etc. i am guessing that his body is simply rejecting the human insulin. i used humulin n for almost three years but just switched to humulin r since he was not using the n. but he is not using the r either. i cannot just let him die. any help would be unbelievably appreciated. thank you.

Posted by: peggyn | December 16, 2012 9:45 PM    Report this comment

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