Urine Testing for Diabetes in Dogs

Urine testing for diabetes in dogs can be done at home as a simple and inexpensive method of monitoring a dog's diabetes. It is based on the premise that excessive amounts of glucose are filtered by the kidneys from the blood into the urine once the renal threshold (180 mg/dl) is reached. This means that the kidneys cannot process any more blood glucose.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a common disease in dogs, affecting more females than males by three to one. All breeds can be affected, with the average age of onset at six to nine years. Diabetes is an inadequate production of insulin by the islet cells in the pancreas. Insulin allows glucose to pass into the cells to produce energy. An insulin deficiency results in high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and high urine sugar (glycosuria).

Glucose in the urine causes a dog to drink large amounts of water, caused by the dog excreting a large volume of urine. Without enough sugar, a dog's appetite will increase. Symptoms of diabetes include drinking a large amount of water, frequent urination, large appetite and unexplained weight loss. Laboratory tests reveal high glucose levels in the urine and the blood.

More advanced stages of diabetes include loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, dehydration and coma. Since diabetes affects all organs, diabetic dogs are susceptible to infections, develop cataracts, have enlarged livers and can develop neurological problems if not treated. In severe cases, ketones (acids) build up in the blood since the body burns fats for energy when sugar is unavailable. This is life threatening and needs immediate medical attention. Symptoms include rapid breathing, vomiting, weakness and acetone breath.

Specialized diets help keep the insulin in check.

Test Strips

Testing will help in the treatment of diabetes. After the urine is collected, a test strip is used to test the glucose level. The test strips Diastix and Clinistix test for urine glucose only, while Keto-Diastix tests for both ketones and glucose. These tests can also determine the duration of time that the glucose has been high.


This type of testing is not as accurate as tests done by veterinarians, since the urine present in the bladder could have been collected over a long period of time due to infrequent urination. Urine collected more frequently is more accurate in blood glucose levels. Urine glucose levels do not reflect the blood glucose level. Urine test strips cannot show blood glucose levels that have gone too low.

This type of test can lead to an incorrect administration of insulin to "correct" a low blood glucose level that is really incorrect in reading. This can cause grave consequences, including a somogyi rebound or even death. A somogyi rebound occurs when too much insulin is given when it is not necessary, which causes the blood glucose level to go too low. The body then responds by dumping large amounts of glucose from the liver into the blood.

The use of urine testing must be closely monitored in conjunction with veterinarian involvement.