Sugar Diabetes


Insulin, produced in the pancreas helps body cells absorb glucose. An excess of insulin is uncommon and leads to collapse and seizures caused by low blood sugar. A lack of insulin causes blood sugar to increase. The resulting condition, diabetes mellitus is the most frequently reported endocrine disease in pets, estimated to affect about one in 200 pets.

Sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus) is a disorder where a pet cannot use glucose, the body's main energy source. Diabetes is caused either by a lack of insulin (Type 1) or plentiful insulin but an inability of cells to use it properly (Type 2). A third form of diabetes (Type 3) is 'iatrogenic'. It is caused by the excessive use of corticosteroids to treat another condition. If sugar remains in the blood and is not taken up by cells an affected pet has an increased appetite and thirst, increased urinating, weight loss, fatigue, recurrent infections, eye and circulation problems. Stress plays a central role in diabetes and some veterinarians think that Type 1 diabetes, the most common type in pets, is either an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks and destroys its own insulin producing cells or a result of chronically excessive production of corticosteroids by the adrenal gland. Diabetes occurs twice as frequently in females as in males, especially in fat females.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Diabetic pets are frequently overweight, even obese, although after prolonged diabetes they may be thin and have cataracts. If diagnosis is delayed longer a pet develops the signs of kidney failure, called ketoacidosis. Consistently increased sugar in the blood and overflow of sugar into the urine is diagnostic. Increased blood sugar alone is not diagnostic. It can be caused by many other conditions, even the most recent meal. Diabetes is almost always treated with insulin injections and a high fibre diet. Once cataracts begin, their progress is irreversible, even with immediate insulin therapy. Blindness from cataracts can be corrected by cataract surgery. This restores vision to over 75 percent of blind diabetics.

Diet Management For Diabetic Dogs

Blood sugar levels are lower in dogs fed high fibre diets. An added value of complex carbohydrates is that they slow sugar absorption from a meal, reducing the peaks and troughs of blood sugar at and between meals. Most low calorie diets are high in fibre. As well there are diets such as High Fibre Diet and Glucose Maintenance Diet made especially for diabetic pets. Ashley McManus can advise you.

Low Blood Sugar

A number of conditions cause low blood sugar, the opposite of diabetes mellitus. The most common is an insulin overdose.

Insulin Overdose

A pet's insulin demands vary according to its exercise, its diet, even the temperature it finds itself in. An overdose of insulin depresses blood sugar. The length of time blood sugar is depressed depends on the amount of overdosage and also on the type of insulin used, whether it is slow or medium acting.

Insulin-Secreting Tumour

Virtually all insulin-secreting tumours in the exocrine pancreas are malignant and spread elsewhere. The clinical signs are caused by a lack of sugar in the blood. The most typical dramatic sign is a seizure but before that occurs pets usually show signs of weakness. Seizures may be preceded by muscle twitching, lethargy, a drunken gait and collapse. Tumours occur in middle aged and older pets.

Low Blood Sugar In Puppies

Toy breed pups (such as Yorkshire Terriers) under 12 weeks old can suffer from a low blood sugar crisis when stressed by a journey but even simply by missing a meal. The earliest sign is listlessness, followed by a staggering or stilted gait but these quickly leads to collapse, heavy breathing and sometimes a frothing at the mouth and seizures.


If a pet is conscious and can swallow, Karo syrup or sugar water is given by syringe. If a pet is unconscious rub sweet syrup or glucose paste under the tongue and on the gums. Take care you are not accidentally bitten. Visit us quickly for possible intravenous glucose administration. If your pet is receiving insulin, always keep sweet syrup or glucose powder with you for emergency use. Small breed pups at risk should be fed frequently and not exposed to stressful situations.

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