Hormonal Disorders: Diabetes Causes

Cause of Diabets Mellitus:

Diabetes mellitus is a deficiency of insulin. Insulin is a hormone synthesized in unit beta cells of the “Islet of Langerhans” in the pancreas. These cells control the glucose level in the blood by releasing insulin when sugar levels in the body are increased or through a sustained slow release of insulin, independent of sugar level.

The pathogenesis of diabetes mellitus in dogs may involve several mechanisms. Diabetes mellitus, being a deficiency of insulin, occurs only if the islet cells of pancreas are destroyed. Immune system destruction of these cells is very common in severe pancreatitis (Inflammation of the canine pancreas). Cellular fibrosis which is a condition which is a result of repeated pancreatitis is a main cause of diabetes mellitus in dogs. Dogs with diabetes mellitus have a firm, multi nodular and relatively stiffened pancreas.

Other causes of diabetes mellitus may involve prolonged administration of drugs like glucocorticoids. Progesterone is another hormone which maintains pregnancy. Progestrone may cause hyperglycemia (High Blood Sugar) and resistance to insulin production in the pancreas. Obesity of pancreatic tissues may also affect the functioning of beta cells, thus resulting into insulin resistance.

Physical stress, body muscles obesity and drugs like corticosteroids can cause a case of clinical diabetes to become severe.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes:

Diabetic dogs frequently urinate, eat more and experience excessive thirst. Weight loss, weakness and faded eye sight occur over time. It should be noted that the onset of diabetes mellitus in dogs is spontaneous, while a clinical course of the disease is chronic (ccurs over time); therefore a slight difference in eating and urinating behavior should be noted carefully.

Immune response in diabetic dogs is very poor. Bacterial and fungal infections such as cystitis (Inflammation of urinary bladder), bronchopneumonia and dermatitis (Inflammation of skin) occur frequently.

Diabetic dogs commonly show signs of cataracts, which is also called opacity of the eye lens. This is a progressive condition with eye sight getting weaker over time.

Diagnosis of Diabetes:

Clinical Signs, nutrition history and history of infections along with laboratory tests can lead to a diagnosis of canine diabetes mellitus. Sugar levels in the blood are usually examined in a series of laboratory tests after keeping the suspected dog in persistent observation and fasting. The fasting level of blood sugar in dogs is usually 75 – 120 mg/dL.

Diabetes mellitus in dogs should be differentiated (make sure that the cause is not) from stress induced hyperglycemia. Differentiation can be made on the basis of serum glycosylated haemoglobin (Lab. Test) level.


Once a confirmed diagnosis is made, dog owners should be briefed about the condition, as the long term success of the treatment plan depends upon the level of involvement of the owner in the dog's health. Treatment usually involves weight reduction, dietary planning and insulin therapy. The oral administration of hypoglycemics (drugs used to lower glucose level in blood) may also be required. Diabetic dogs should be fed with dog foods containing high fiber levels and complex carbohydrates.

Insulin therapy is usually a must for dogs that have diabetes mellitus. At least 2 doses of insulin a day are sufficient. Insulin injections with a dose of 0.5 U/Kg are enough. 2 Meals of equal calorie levels should only be fed at the time of injection.

Glucose level in blood, weight, dermal injury, diet & complications should be monitored on weekly basis.

For those owners that like to try natural approaches, there is also a homeopathic remedy available to help with dog diabetes signs called GlucoEnsure.  it has a combination of ingredients selected to support pancreatic and liver health, help to support normal blood sugar levels, and maintain the correct distribution of insulin in the blood.  See the manufacturers site for supporting research on this approach.


There are several complications associated with diabetes mellitus in dogs. Ketoacidosis (High level of ketone bodies – formed due to the excessive breakdown of fats and amino acids) is one of them, and should be considered a medical emergency. Ringer lactate or a 0.9% NaCl concentrated solution should be given to dogs with ketoacidosis. A course of insulin at dose rate of 0.2 U/Kg initially, followed by a hourly dose of 0.1 U/Kg is considered effective in ketoacidotic diabetes mellitus.