Causes of Diabetes In Dogs

The news that your furry friend has diabetes can be devastating. You think you’ve given the best to your dog, but the vet has given his verdict: canine diabetes! So, what are the causes of diabetes in dogs?

The primary cause of canine diabetes is insulin deficiency, which occurs due to several other causes. Following are the major dog diabetes causes:

Causes of Diabetes in Dogs

An instrument to check sugar level in blood

1. Genetic Factor

Studies in canine genetics have confirmed that several genes are associated with canine susceptibility to diabetes mellitus. Some of these genes are breed-specific. Some breeds more predisposed to diabetes are Samoyed, Poodle, Pug, Siberian husky, Dachshund, and Bichon Frisé.

2. Age

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) canine diabetes can occur at any age. However middle-aged dogs (4-14 years) tend to be more predisposed. Unfortunately, most cases are diagnosed later when dogs are around 7 to 10 years old.

3. Sex

The prevalence of diabetes in female dogs is twice as high compared to male dogs. A study found that diabetes had a sex bias, with more female dogs presenting high blood sugar levels than males irrespective of age and breed. 

Female dogs that are not spayed also appear to be more predisposed than their spayed counterparts.

4. Obesity and Overweight

When your dog consumes carbohydrates and sugars, they are converted to glucose which circulates in the bloodstream to provide energy. Insulin regulates how much of this glucose goes into your dog’s bloodstream. 

If your dog is obese or overweight, the body cells become resistant to insulin, causing a rise in blood sugar levels and the consequent diabetes symptoms.

5. Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis causes extensive damage to your dog’s pancreases. this is the body organ that controls insulin in the body. According to the Oxford Academic Journal of Nutrition, chronic pancreatitis is responsible for around 28% of diabetes cases in dogs.

Also, obesity is a risk factor for chronic pancreatitis, making pancreatitis the real cause of diabetes in obese dogs. 

6. Infections and Underlying Health Conditions

With aging, dogs can develop diseases that alter the functioning of body cells. This can also affect the control of insulin levels in the body, predisposing them to diabetes.

The Causes of Diabetes In Dogs can be be many and difficult to pin point

Some infections and underlying conditions whose treatment or activity in your dog’s body can predispose your pet to diabetes.  

  • Cushing’s disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) – an endocrine syndrome caused mainly by continued use of steroid drugs.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
  • Heart disease.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Skin infections.
  • Acromegaly – a hormonal disorder caused by overproduction of the growth hormone by the pituitary gland.
  • Chronic pancreatitis.

7. Prolonged Use of Certain Drugs

Some medications can interfere with insulin in your dog’s body and predispose him to diabetes. These include: 

  • Glucocorticoids and other cortisone-type drugs.
  • Hormonal meds like Progestogens, Steroids, and Progestin.

8. Pregnancy and Diestrus

In female dogs, hyperglycemia and insulin resistance can be caused by the release of growth hormones from the mammary glands. This is characteristic of pregnancy and diestrus (a period of sexual inactivity between sexually active periods). Both Hyperglycemia and insulin resistance predispose female dogs to diabetes.

Causes of Diabetes in dogs FAQs

Below are some questions on the causes of canine diabetes, frequently asked by dog owners. 

According to the Oxford Academic Journal of Nutrition, Obesity does not cause canine diabetes directly. What causes diabetes in dogs is the risk posed by obesity to the pancreas, resulting in chronic pancreatitis. And chronic pancreatitis accounts for 28% of diabetes cases in dogs.

Low blood sugar in diabetic dogs is known as hypoglycemia. This occurs when your dog’s body uses more glucose than it produces. Hypoglycemia can be caused by poor diet or overuse of glucose in the body (hyperinsulinism). A dysfunction in your dogs blood sugar control processes or endocrine abnormalities might also be the cause.

Final Thoughts

Canine diabetes can be caused by a number of factors. Some are genetic, nutritional, demographic (sex and age), and lifestyle (nutrition and exercise) factors.

To prevent diabetes in your dog, research your pet’s bloodline before bringing them home. Once home aim to provide proper care and a healthy diet once your puppy joins the family.