Canine Diabetes Complications

Canine diabetes is an endocrine disease present in dogs. Diabetes mellitus is described as a lack of insulin, the hormone used in sugar metabolism. Diabetes insipidus is caused by the lack of vasopressin, the hormone that helps the kidneys absorb water, and is less common than diabetes mellitus. Both categories of diabetes can cause serious complications in dogs and should be treated. Complications of canine diabetes are as follows:

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Canine diabetic ketoacidosis will result if diabetes is untreated, or if insulin therapy is not working properly. The dog's body will begin to break down the fats causing deposits of ketones to develop, and since the sugar cannot enter the cells, it causes hyperglycemia. Diabetic ketoacidosis can develop suddenly, so it's important for dog owners to know these common symptoms of ketoacidosis:

  • Weight Loss
  • Weakness
  • Sudden blindness
  • Insatiable appetite
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Dehydration and vomiting

Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication and is a veterinary emergency that will require aggressive treatment. The majority of dogs do recover with the proper care and treatment.


Unfortunately, many diabetic dogs will develop cataracts and go blind soon after being diagnosed with the disease. The high blood sugar levels often cause the lens of the eyes to become opaque and foggy, eventually leading to blindness. Cataract surgery is a common treatment for vision loss, and many dogs who receive the surgery do recover their vision.

Uveitis and Glaucoma

Cataracts often cause protein to leak into the eyeball, causing acute inflammation known as uveitis. if uveitis is left untreated, it can easily progress into glaucoma or cause retinal detachment. If either of these conditions develop, vision complications will be permanent. If a dog does develop uveitis, cataract surgery will not be a possibility, as there will be a much higher chance of developing complications from the surgery.

Weakened Immune System

A diabetic dog can develop recurring infections because the high blood sugar levels create an attractive environment for bacteria. In addition, the bacteria causes blood glucose levels to rise, causing an unfortunate pattern. Common infections to develop in dog's with diabetes include prostate infections, skin conditions, pneumonia, urinary tract infections and more. Dogs with diabetes should be monitored closely for infections, and should be treated as soon as possible when infected.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Nerve damage can be the result of high blood glucose levels, and often causes weakness in the back legs of the canine. It is easy for pet owners to mistake this symptom as a sign of old age, but nerve damage may be one of the first symptoms of canine diabetes.

When blood sugar levels are brought under proper control, this problem often disappears.

Prevention of Canine Diabetes

Diabetes in dogs is a serious disease that can have life-threatening complications. The best cure for canine diabetes is to prevent it in the first place, and ways to do this are numerous. Controlling your dog's weight, feeding him a healthy and low-fat diet, and exercising him regularly are the best ways to prevent diabetes.