Diabetes doesn’t only impact humans; our dogs are also prone to developing this condition. The insulin a dog’s body makes is affected when your dog gets diabetes. Its body can’t produce the insulin or responds incorrectly to it, resulting in a blood sugar imbalance. The result impacts our dog’s ability to stay healthy and active.

Many kinds of breeds of dogs are prone to diabetes. From small apartment dogs to large dogs needing lots of space and room to run, there are signs and symptoms to watch out for that may indicate your dog has diabetes. Taking your dog to the vet to get the correct diagnosis and treatment with medication can help to manage diabetes and allow your dog more longevity and healthier life.

If you’re in the market for a new dog, you may be curious which dogs are more prone to diabetes. Below you will find a list of breeds that are more susceptible to the disease, as well as more about diabetes and how to treat it if your dog gets it.

Risk Factors for Diabetes in Dogs

The breed or type of dog is one of the top risks for diabetes. But, it is helpful to know that there are other factors involved in what makes a dog more prone to diabetes. Several other reasons can contribute to your dog ending up with diabetes, such as:

  • Age – dogs will usually develop diabetes in middle or old age
  • Weight – an obese dog can create cells in its body that are more resistant to insulin
  • Gender – female dogs and neutered male dogs are more likely to contract diabetes
  • Diet and Nutrition – if you feed your dog food high in fat, you propel the risk of contracting diabetes. Consult with your vet about choosing proper dog food for health.

Dog Breeds More Prone to Diabetes

Golden retrievers are among the top dog breeds more prone to diabetes. However, they are also one of the most friendly and trainable family pets to own. Any dog you get, from a shelter to a breeder, can develop diabetes. Mixed breeds can be more prone than purebreds, but that doesn’t rule out any specific breed.

Some of the breeds more likely to develop diabetes besides Goldens that you should be aware of include:

  1. Cocker Spaniels
  2. Labrador Retrievers
  3. Terrier breeds
  4. Toy Poodles
  5. Pomeranians
  6. Miniature Schnauzers
  7. Keeshonds

These breeds are more prone to diabetes, but that doesn’t mean other breeds can’t develop the condition. And, just because your dog’s breed may fall into one of these categories, it may not necessarily end up with diabetes.

Types of Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes is not a curable condition; however, it is very treatable, especially when caught early in your pup. Two types of diabetes occur in dogs – insulin-deficiency diabetes (IDD) and insulin-resistance diabetes (IRD). With the deficiency, canines don’t make enough insulin to keep glucose levels balanced. As a result, it can cause genetic defects, pancreas inflammation, and sickness.

The insulin-resistance type of diabetes is where the insulin function is not occurring correctly. There may be specific causes such as hormones or endocrine disease. Pregnant dogs more often will contract a form of type IRD diabetes, which is similar to gestational diabetes in pregnant humans.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

Diabetes is challenging to detect; your dog may not always show clear signs or symptoms of the disease. If you take your dog to the vet for regular checkups, the veterinarian may discover diabetes during routine blood work. There are some common signs of diabetes in dogs, which can include:

  • Weight loss
  • Change in appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Lack of energy; lethargy

If you notice any of these symptoms, even if you don’t suspect diabetes, it is helpful to contact your veterinarian and bring in your dog for a checkup. Many of these signs can indicate other harmful health problems in your pet.

As a pet owner, you must know your dog well. Dogs have ways to communicate and cannot speak to understand if something is wrong. If you are intuitive, you can detect when something is off, or your dog isn’t behaving as usual. Bring concerns to your veterinarian’s attention immediately.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs

Blood tests are the best way to get an accurate diagnosis, but high glucose levels don’t necessarily indicate diabetes. Your vet may have to run multiple tests to rule out other diseases in the process.

Once diagnosed with diabetes, the vet will measure your dog’s glucose levels under careful watch for many hours. Then your vet will be able to choose the correct dosage for medication. When you begin treating your dog, you will have multiple return visits with your vet to check on your dog and to see how well the dosage/medication works.

Treatment involves keeping a close watch on your pup’s blood glucose levels to keep them regular. A normal reading is between 65 to 120 mg/dl. Diabetic complications, such as kidney disease or nerve disease, can occur when your dog has it. Many dogs also develop cataracts, making it difficult for them to see. 

Dogs may need one to two daily insulin shots. Other treatment includes weighing your dog regularly and paying attention to signs of excess hunger or thirst. Glucose rises in the body after a meal, but can also occur when insulin is too low. You may have to collect blood droplets to measure glucose levels.

Diets lower in fat and high in fiber are recommended to help keep glucose levels healthy. Exercise can also be essential to help reduce your dog’s weight and lower glucose levels.

Keeping Your Diabetic Dog Healthy

You may think all of this treatment is a lot to take on if your dog has diabetes. To make it easier on your as pet owner, develop a consistent routine to keep a close eye on your dog’s health. The shots and blood testing do not take much time, and you can continue to provide your pup with a long, happy life.


About the Author: Nicole is a die-hard animal lover who has worked in pet care for years. She is a former vet technician, a dog mom to her two rescue pups, and she grew up living and working at her family’s pet boarding facility. She loves using her writing talents to share the insight she’s learned throughout her career in the hopes that her knowledge can help other pet parents out there!