Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes Mellitus


Diabetes mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder that affects dogs. It occurs when the body is unable to properly regulate blood sugar levels. In a healthy dog, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that promotes the breakdown of glucose from the blood into cells for use as energy. In diabetic dogs, the pancreas either does not produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes) or the body's cells become resistant to insulin (type 2 diabetes). This causes glucose to build up in the blood, leading to increased blood sugar levels.


Several factors can contribute to the development of diabetes in dogs:

• Genetic predisposition to the disease

• Overweight and obesity, which can lead to the development of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes

• Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can damage the cells that produce insulin, leading to insufficient insulin production and type 1 diabetes

• Other health conditions such as Cushing's syndrome or chronic pancreatitis may increase the risk

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How does diabetes mellitus affect the body?

In dogs with diabetes, lack of insulin or insulin resistance prevents glucose from entering the cells. This leads to increased blood sugar levels. The body's cells, which lack glucose as an energy source, begin to break down fats and proteins instead. This leads to weight loss and the production of ketones, which can cause a life-threatening condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.

Welche Rassen sind betroffen?

Some dog breeds have a higher risk of developing diabetes mellitus:

• Poodles and Toy Poodles

• Beagles

• Samoyeds

• Dachshunds, especially the dwarf variety

• Cairn Terriers

• Miniature Schnauzers

• Golden retriever

• Labrador retrievers

• Cocker spaniel

• Australian Terriers


• Increased thirst and urination due to excess glucose in the blood.

• Increased appetite associated with weight loss due to the body's inability to use glucose effectively.

• Lethargy and reduced activity.

• The development of cataracts, which cause the eyes to become cloudy or opaque. If left untreated, they can lead to vision loss.

• In more severe cases or when diabetes is poorly controlled, the dog's breath may have a sweet or fruity smell. This may indicate ketones, which are byproducts of breaking down fat for energy when glucose is not sufficiently available.

Diagnose und Behandlung

A veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination, evaluate the dog's symptoms, and take a medical history. Then some or all of the following tests can be carried out:

• Blood tests to measure glucose levels and determine if the dog has high blood sugar.

• Urine tests to detect the presence of glucose and ketones, indicating uncontrolled diabetes.

• A fructosamine test to provide an estimate of average blood sugar levels over the past few weeks and to confirm a diagnosis.

• A glucose curve, in which multiple blood glucose measurements are taken over several hours to evaluate the dog's response to insulin.


The following measures are aimed at regulating blood sugar levels and treating symptoms:

• Insulin injections to replace missing or ineffective insulin.

• A consistent and balanced diet. Your veterinarian may recommend a specialized diabetic dog food or a homemade diet to help regulate blood sugar levels.

• Consistent exercise to help manage weight, improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels. However, exercise should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian and should take into account the dog's general health and possible complications.

• Regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, urine glucose and ketone bodies is essential to ensure effectiveness of treatment and to make adjustments in insulin dosage or dietary management if necessary.

• Owners of diabetic dogs should receive appropriate training and guidance from their veterinarian about administering insulin, monitoring blood glucose, recognizing signs of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, and effectively managing the condition. Hypoglycemia refers to low blood sugar levels and often occurs when a diabetic dog receives too much insulin or does not eat enough food to compensate for the insulin dosage. Hyperglycemia refers to high blood sugar levels that occur when a diabetic dog's body cannot effectively use or regulate glucose due to insulin deficiency or insulin resistance.

Even with preventive measures, diabetes can still occur.

However, keeping the dog at a healthy weight, providing a balanced diet and allowing regular exercise is a good habit to prevent the development of the condition.