Hormonal Disorders: Diabetes Overview


Diabetes in small animals is found in two different forms, diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus. In dogs, diabetes mellitus is more common, while diabetes insipidus occurs less frequently. Diabetes mellitus refers to a deficiency of insulin associated with disorders in carbohydrate metabolism. Diabetes insipidus on other hand is caused by a reduced secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH).

Polyuria or frequent and large volumes of urination is a common sign of diabetes along with other complications such as suppressed immune response, weakened eye sight and others. The treatment plan usually involves a complete nutrition plan, oral administration of glycocemides (initiates production of calcium which in turn stimulates natural production of insulin) and insulin induction. Diabetes may be congenital (inherited), due to poor nutrition (high carbohydrate diets can trigger canine diabetes) and sometimes due to a reaction to some drugs, so care is always needed to prevent its occurrence.


As mentioned above, diabetes occurs in two different forms in dogs, diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus.

Diabetes mellitus is termed a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism (such as sugar) associated with decreased insulin production. This condition may be congenital, or may be due to a secondary destruction of islet cells, as in pancreatitis.

Diabetes mellitus in dogs may occur due to several drugs. Excessive use of corticosteroids in dogs may cause diabetes mellitus, similarly progesterone if is produced in larger quantities, may cause hyperglycemia in dogs, which causes diabetes mellitus in dogs.

Diabetes insipidus on other hand is due to the reduced secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) in dogs. This is an uncommon form of diabetes in dogs. Injury, neoplasm, cyst, or inflammatory granuloma in the hypothalamus causes a reduced activity of pituitary gland, resulting in to a reduced ADH secretion, which is called diabetes insipidus.

Signs and Symptoms:

The dog diabetes signs depend on the type affecting the dog.

Diabetes mellitus may appear clinically as a chronic disturbance of carbohydrate metabolism. Dogs affected by diabetes mellitus may show signs of extreme polydipsia (Excessive thirst), polyuria (Excessive urination) & polyphagia (Excessive eating). Dogs may get weak & in severe cases bilateral cataracts (cloudy lenses of eye) may be noticed.

Dogs affected by diabetes mellitus have decreased resistance to bacterial and viral infections. Cystitis (Inflammation of urinary bladder), prostatitis (Inflammation of prostate gland), bronchopneumonia & dermatitis (Inflammation of skin) is more common in diabetic dogs.

Dogs affected by diabetes insipidus on other hand, excrete large volumes of urine & equally drink large volumes of water. Lesions on the hind brain along with signs of a compressed hypothalamus may represent diabetes insipidus.


Diagnosing both forms of diabetes in dogs requires a series of tests and a narrow monitoring of clinical signs and representation. Laboratory measurement of glycosylated haemoglobin and fructosamine in serum, fasting hyperglycocemia & other tests of urine may help in diagnosing diabetes in dogs.

Clinical signs and history may help in diagnosing diabetes, but laboratory examination and monitoring is usually considered essential before a confirmatory diagnosis is made.


The long term success of treatment in diabetic dogs is highly dependent upon the willingness of the owner. Weight reduction, diet, insulin & some times oral administration of hypoglycemics are some combined options for treating diabetes mellitus in dogs.

Dogs with diabetes mellitus should have a controlled diet, preferably containing more fiber and complex carbohydrates. Along with a controlled diet, dogs may require insulin therapy. Usually two injections of insulin are prescribed for dogs. Oral administration of hypoglycosemics, e.g. such as glipizide is helpful. Regular exercise and care to reduce the chance of infection or injury are additional requirements in controlling diabetes.

On the other hand, dogs affected by diabetes insipidus, polyuria or increased urination is usually treated with use of desmopressin acetate. Initially 2 drops are applied to the nasal mucosa or in to the eyes to keep them moisturized, (conjunctivae), which is increased over time. The effect of this dose usually lasts minimum 2 – 6 hours and a maximum 6 – 12 hours depending upon the age & weight of the dog being treated along with the severity of the condition.

There is a homeopathic (natural) remedy available for dog diabetes called GlucoEnsure which is specifically made to help dogs maintain insulin and blood sugar levels within a normal range. Natural ingredients such as Bilberry (anti-oxidant), Chromium picolinat (contains chromium for sugar and fat metabolism) and Galega officinalis (for the pancreas and insulin levels) among others can all provide another level of support for your dog.

Water should not be restricted for a diabetic dog. Usually the treatment plan lasts for life of the animal.