Diabetes is a horrible disease that affect men and women every day. But did you know that diabetes also wreaks havoc on our canine friends as well? Did you also know that diabetes is especially common in golden retrievers? If you didn’t or want to know more, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know to help your fuzzy friend.

The Medical Stuff

Diabetes in dogs is caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an insufficient response to insulin. After a dog eats, his digestive system breaks food down, including glucose. Which is then carried into his cells by insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. When a dog does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, his blood sugar levels elevate. The result is hyperglycemia. Which, if left untreated, can cause many complicated health problems.

Before going on, it is important to understand that diabetes is considered a manageable disorder. Many diabetic dogs can lead happy, healthy lives.

According to Pet WebMD, diabetes can be classified as either Type 1 (lack of insulin production) or Type II (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone.)

The most common form of the disease in dogs is Type 1. Dogs who have Type I require insulin therapy to survive. Type II diabetes is more often found in cats and is a lack of normal response to insulin.

The following could be symptoms of canine diabetes:

• Change in appetite
• Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
• Weight loss
• Increased urination
• Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
• Lethargy
• Dehydration
• Urinary tract infections
• Vomiting
• Cataract formation, blindness
• Chronic skin infections

Nutrition and diabetes go hand in handNutrition and diabetes go hand in hand

Picture taken from: http://www.abingdonvet.co.uk/

Breeds and Diagnosis

Pet WebMD says that it is thought that obese dogs and female dogs may run a greater risk of developing diabetes later in life. Some breeds may also be at a greater risk such as: Australian terriers, standard and miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, poodles, keeshonds and samoyeds. Juvenile diabetes can also be seen and is particularly prevalent in golden retrievers and keeshonds.

In order to diagnose diabetes, your veterinarian will collect information about your dog’s clinical signs, perform a physical examination, check blood work, and perform a urinalysis.


Diabetes treatment is based on how severe the symptoms and whether there are any other health issues that could complicate therapy. Each dog will respond a little bit differently to treatment. Therapy must be tailored to the individual dog throughout its life. According to Pet WebMD:

• Some dogs may be seriously ill when first diagnosed and will require intensive hospital care for several days to regulate their blood sugar.

• Dogs who are more stable when first diagnosed may respond to oral medication or a high-fiber diet that helps to normalize glucose levels in the blood.

• For most dogs, insulin injections are necessary for adequate regulation of blood glucose. Once your pet’s individual insulin treatment is established, you’ll be shown how to give him insulin injections at home. The treatments are usually based on weight.

• Spaying your dog is recommended. Female sex hormones can have an effect on blood sugar levels.

This article is running a bit long, so I’ll tell you how to care for your pooch in the home in another article.

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