Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

symptoms of diabetes in dogs

symptoms of diabetes in dogs

Many of the symptoms of diabetes in dogs are actually similar to those of other diseases.

What else is new?

It seems like whenever I write about a particular disease, I say those same words, and that’s because it’s true. Many symptoms are common so how can you even figure out which one to suspect? No worries about that, because it isn’t your job to try and diagnose, that’s your vet’s job. What is your responsibility is having a close enough relationship with your dog to know when something isn’t “quite right.” The need to monitor your dog becomes even more critical as he gets older, since a senior dog can go downhill a lot quicker than a younger one can. It’s always easier to treat a condition the earlier it is diagnosed.

My experience with diabetes in dogs


Josephine had diabetes

Several years ago my husband and I adopted an adorable Shih Tzu we named Josephine Emerald. I volunteered at Tri County shelter in Florida, caring for the senior dogs, and one day my husband came to help and walked Josephine. She was deaf and mostly blind, and he wasn’t happy when he saw her just standing there, being knocked by the other dogs. While outside she leaned against him, his heart melted and that was that. She came home with us that day.

Almost two years after we got her I noticed she started drinking more, than peeing more and immediately decided it was kidney disease. As I mentioned earlier, symptoms of diabetes are similar to other illnesses, and since I had experience with kidney disease I naturally assumed. Imagine my shock when the test results came back positive for diabetes.

Okay so let’s look at some of the symptoms you may notice that could indicate your dog has diabetes. Perhaps make notes on the changes you’ve been seeing lately so you don’t forget. We can all get a bit nervous during our dog’s checkups, so having questions/observations and the like already written means we don’t forget something important.

Changes can be subtle

Your dog isn’t likely to be peeing normally one day, and the next have to go 6 or 7 extra times. The symptoms can happen gradually you may not even realise the changes immediately, which is why a keen eye is helpful.

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs

Some of what you will notice are early warning signs, others when the disease is more advanced, and then there are the effects diabetes has on your dog.

health issues mean Red is peeing more often

Dogs with diabetes will drink more water

eating more is a symptom of diabetes

losing weight is a symptom of diabetes in dogs

vision problems cloudy eyes

Obesity can cause diabetes

no energy

thinning or dull hair

symptoms of diabetes in dogs

Depression is a symptom of diabetes in dogs


  • Peeing more often
  • Drinking more water
  • Eating more
  • Losing weight
  • Vision problems/cloudy eyes
  • Obesity can cause diabetes
  • No energy
  • Thinning or dull hair
  • Vomiting
  • Depression

More information about diabetes in dogs

I know this post has focused specifically on symptoms, but if you are interested in learning more about diabetes, The American Kennel Club published a very helpful article called Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment.

Symptoms of diabetes in dogs – conclusion

I talk a lot about the importance of taking any changes in your dog seriously, particularly if you share your life with a senior dog. What many people attribute to the natural aging process, is often a health issue starting to manifest itself.

Whether you notice your dog emptying his water bowl quicker, looking a little thin, or just not himself, please call your vet ASAP and have him checked out. You may be seeing symptoms of diabetes in dogs or another illness, but whatever it is, the quicker it is diagnosed, the quicker it can be managed.  

Does your dog have diabetes? What symptoms alerted you to a problem? Sharing helps others so leave your comment below or on my Facebook page


Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

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23 thoughts on “Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

  1. This is so interesting – I hadn’t thought about the similarities between diabetes and renal disease. We’ve lost a pup to renal and one key difference I saw was the eating more – our experience was that he stopped eating one thing at a time, little by little, until he wouldn’t eat. With diabetes I can understand why the eating and drinking would become a key indicator. Poor little Josephine, did she go on insulin?

    1. Sorry to hear about your pup Rebecca, it just sucks as my cousin and I always say when we lose a pet. There’s not much else we can say is there? I was giving Josephine insulin injections but we put her down not long after her diagnosis unfortunately. It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact she was deaf and blind, as she was like that since the day we adopted her a couple of years earlier. It was purely based on quality of life and what was best for her. An agonising decision but the right one for her. With all my animals who had kidney disease, the difference came down to the lack of interest in food.

  2. Thanks Hindy, this information is so important. As dog owners we are the first to notice symptoms and changes in our animals’ behavior and diet. There are so many benefits to senior dogs and they can live long and happy lives with proper attention.

    1. I agree with you Heather, if only more pet parents realised how instrumental they are in the health of their animals. Senior dogs can absolutely live long and healthy lives, but sadly many people hear “senior” and “sick with huge vet bills” at the same time.

  3. Diabetes is also very common in older cats. Knowing the signs is so important to get dogs and cats the help they need as early as possible. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

    1. You’re right Amy, although my cats usually had cancer or kidney disease, never diabetes so my only experience was with Josephine. I can’t talk enough about going to the vet when something seems “off” no matter how slight. Catching a problem as early as possible is key. So glad you found the post useful.

  4. This is a vital post aht should alert people to the differences and similarities. You are not kidding when you say the symptoms are similar!

    Josephine was a sweetheart and she knew when she was ‘home’ – your husband showed her that 🙂

    1. He certainly did! She knew who to pick that’s for sure. For that reason I always say to call the vet if something seems “off.” There’s no point in wasting time trying to diagnose something yourself, since symptoms are similar in so many cases.

  5. It’s hard enough in humans to tell the difference between all of these different diseases with similar symptoms, let alone with animals who can’t tell you how they’re feeling. Just another reason why it’s SO important to find a great veterinarian who you can trust. These symptoms sound like SO many other diseases. it’s crazy. At the first sign that something is “off” with our dogs, off to our trusted vet we go. I’m pretty sure we keep them in business, but alas. LOL

    1. I agree with you Debbie. Similar symptoms, different diseases and the only way to tell if something is wrong is to know our pets well enough to tell when something is “off.” I thought we were the only ones keeping our vet in business!! Part of me thinks it would be interesting to know how much we’ve spent over the past few years, the other part would be annoyed because it could have bought me a new car, or a downpayment on a new house!

  6. Great post. It’s scary how diabetes can easily be overlooked due to the subtle symptoms that present themselves that can easily be overlooked and attributed to “old age”. Being in tune with your dogs habits can make all the difference.

    1. That’s so true Kamira, it’s about knowing our dogs and recognising behaviour changes. Too many people attribute changes they notice to the natural aging process when, in fact, it isn’t usually the case, and valuable opportunities to treat an illness or problem may have been lost.

  7. Great post thank you and I am very vigilant with Layla especially as she gets older, if I have questions I email my vet and he always replies, if he thinks its an emergency he will tell me to bring her in

    1. Layla is so lucky to have you. I’m always so stunned by the people who have older dogs yet don’t seem to bother with them very much, because they think all changes are related to age and there’s nothing to be done. Having a great vet is important no matter what age, but particularly important as our pets get older and we rely on them so much more for advice.

  8. Yearly check ups and knowing your dog – key. And not brushing things off as “getting old” … and a vet that knows your dog and has followed your dog over years can be really helpful.

    1. You’re so right Sonja, it’s important to not brush things off, but twice yearly check ups become more important as our pets age. Ideally you want a vet that has been with you for years, which is why I get so nervous when my vet isn’t there and I’m forced to see another one on staff. To them it’s just a dog with a problem, and have no idea of the healthcare plan my vet and I have discussed. Scary!!

  9. You are correct. There are so many symptoms that are the same with many different illnesses. It’s important to monitor your pets closely and communicate with a vet if you notice changes, but especially in senior dogs and cats.

    1. I think the best thing to do, especially for anyone sharing their life with a senior pet, is to have a blanket plan of action. Any changes, no matter how subtle, even if you just have a feeling something is off, call the vet. It takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out when to go, when to call…

  10. This is very important info. Thanks so much for sharing. I didn’t know the symptoms for diabetes in dogs so I will definitely keep this in my memory bank!

    1. So many illnesses have similar symptoms it can be hard to know what’s what. I was sure Josephine had kidney problems since all signs pointed to that, and it turned out to be diabetes. Any changes best to call the vet and get an appointment quickly.

  11. This is a great reference! I haven’t personally had a pet with diabetes, but I have had a few friends that did. I’m definitely saving this for later.

    1. Thanks Jessica, so glad you found the post informative. I think the safest thing to do, especially if you have senior pets, is to call the vet at the first sign no matter how subtle it may be. Better safe than sorry to quote a cliche.

  12. The only symptom I knew to watch out for was increased thirst. Thanks for giving the bigger picture, it is very helpful! All 3 of my dogs are close to being considered seniors 10-7, but they are small, so I think they are more middle aged. I am starting to observe them more closely now.

    1. You’re right to start watching them more closely, but hopefully you won’t be as obsessive as I am. I think if Red could talk she’d tell me to stop staring at her all the time!!

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