Dog Insulin Resistance

Dog insulin resistance sometimes occurs in diabetic dogs. Insulin resistance is typically identified when a dog receiving a standard amount of insulin for his weight consistently has elevated blood sugar levels for the majority of the day. Insulin resistance may also be indicated by the dog’s need to receive substantially increased amounts of insulin in order to keep his blood sugar levels under control.


There are several reasons why a dog might develop insulin resistance.

  • A dog might develop absorption problems after having been diabetic for an extended period of time. Just because the insulin is injected under the skin doesn’t mean it is effectively absorbed. If the injections have been done repeatedly in the same area, the tissue can toughen and cause the insulin to pool, rather than be absorbed.
  • Weight gain can also cause insulin resistance. Excessive weight can block the insulin receptors, making it difficult for the insulin to effectively control blood sugar levels.
  • Infections can cause the body to decrease the effectiveness of insulin. Because diabetics are susceptible to bacterial infections, a broad spectrum antibiotic can often be used to eliminate any offending bacteria and possibly reverse the insulin resistance.
  • A diabetic dog can also develop insulin resistance due to the presence of other diseases. Disorders such as kidney disease, liver disease or pancreatitis can cause the body to release hormones that cause the insulin given to be less effective in processing blood sugars.
  • Certain drugs can cause a diabetic dog to develop insulin resistance. A medication history should be taken to rule out any drugs the dog may have taken as the cause of the ineffective insulin.
  • Diabetes is an endocrine disorder and other endocrine disorders can lead to the development of insulin resistance.

Ruling out Insulin Resistance

Just because your diabetic dog’s insulin may have become ineffective, doesn’t automatically mean he has developed insulin resistance. There are several reasons why the insulin may have become ineffective.

Insulin given inappropriately can be a cause for elevated blood sugars. This can be caused by the owner providing the wrong dosage, using the wrong syringes (U100 instead of U40 syringes) or improper administration of insulin. These can all affect how the dog’s body utilizes its insulin.

Bad insulin can also cause elevated blood sugars. There could be a bad batch, the insulin could have been stored unrefrigerated or could have been around for longer than 4 weeks.

If a dog is experiencing severe low blood sugars, his body will react by creating an extreme high blood sugar. Your veterinarian can help adjust insulin doses to an appropriate level to avoid this situation.

Some dogs require multiple adjustments to their insulin dosage. This could be due to age, activity level, disease or other causes. Work with your veterinarian to adjust your dog’s insulin dosage and to get him reregulated.

If your diabetic dog suddenly requires a substantially higher dose of insulin to keep his blood sugars in line, it's important to consult your veterinarian. She can examine your dog to determine the cause and make the appropriate recommendations and changes to bring your dog’s blood sugar readings back in line. Whether administering antibiotics to eliminate an infection or making adjustments to insulin dosages, insulin resistance can be effectively dealt with and diabetic complications avoided.