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How To Recognize When Your Diabetic Dog Is Feeling Unwell



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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Caring for a diabetic dog is a tough task that you didn’t seek, but received.

To best care for our diabetic dogs, we have to first understand what diabetes is and what it does to our beloved pets.

Once we master that, we also need to learn how to recognize when our diabetic dog is feeling unwell and how to help it.

How To Recognize When Your Diabetic Dog Is Feeling Unwell

How To Recognize When Your Diabetic Dog Is Feeling Unwell

Here are signs to help you recognize that your diabetic dog is feeling unwell:

  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Weakness or tremors
  • Unable to see clearly
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Seizures

Increased urination

A Diabetic dog that is feeling unwell typically experiences increased urination due to an imbalance in blood glucose levels and the pet parent should recognize this sign.

When these bodies’ normal mechanisms for controlling glucose aren’t working properly, more glucose enters the bloodstream and is filtered out by the kidneys.

This extra volume draws water from tissues which then leads to frequent urination.

Dehydration may also become an issue as diabetic dogs may struggle with drinking enough fluids to replace what has been lost through excessive urination.

Increased appetite

Diabetic dogs that aren’t feeling well often exhibit increased appetite due to polyphagia which is when their bodies try to compensate for low blood sugar levels.

This phenomenon can occur in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes cases.

When diabetic dogs consume foods, the sugar from those foods should be converted into energy with the help of insulin.

However, if your diabetic dog has received the wrong dose of insulin, or hasn’t received any, they can’t convert the sugar to energy and they will compensate for that by eating more and more.

Weakness or tremors

Diabetic dogs who don’t feel well may exhibit signs of weakness and tremble due to issues related to their diabetes.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a common symptom in diabetic dogs and can lead them to become weak and experience tremors.

Hypoglycemia occurs when there is an imbalance in the amount of glucose circulating in the bloodstream.

This can be caused by too much insulin, insufficient food intake, or increased exercise.

When blood sugar levels fall too low, cells within the body become depleted of energy and cannot function optimally.

Unable to see clearly

Diabetic dogs may experience vision impairment due to high blood glucose levels.

High glucose can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use insulin properly, leading to an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream.

When this occurs, the lens of the eye swells and blurs vision – this condition is known as diabetic retinopathy and could eventually result in blindness if left untreated.

Furthermore, high levels of glucose damage small capillaries in the retina that supply nutrients and oxygen, leading to inflammation that further blurs vision.

Urinary tract infection

Diabetic dogs are particularly prone to urinary tract infections due to an increase in sugar levels in their urine.

This high-sugar environment encourages bacteria growth, leading to infection within the bladder and kidneys.

Furthermore, since diabetes often results in dehydration, concentrated urine provides yet another favorable environment for bacteria growth.

Moreover, diabetic animals may suffer from decreased immunity which further increases their likelihood of developing UTIs.


Diabetic dogs may experience seizures due to several reasons. One common cause is hypoglycemia or an abrupt drop in blood sugar levels.

This can occur if their bodies don’t receive enough insulin or they have too much activity and require more energy than what’s available.

Seizures could also be caused by electrolyte imbalances like an imbalance between sodium and potassium levels in their blood, or other underlying issues complicating diabetes management such as kidney issues or infections.

How To Help a Diabetic Dog That Isn’t Feeling Well

If your diabetic dog isn’t feeling well, here is how you can help it:

  • Consult your veterinarian for further instructions
  • Monitor their blood sugar levels
  • Adjust their diet with your vet’s guidance
  • Keep the dog hydrated
  • If the glucose levels are high, take them on a walk
  • Provide a comfortable environment

Consult the veterinarian

Anytime that your diabetic dog isn’t feeling well and you have done everything properly on your part (insulin, food, and exercise on time), you need to call the veterinarian.

If your dog is getting everything that the vet prescribed, but still isn’t feeling well, a vet visit is a must.

Do not try to increase or decrease the insulin dose or the food without consulting your vet.

Monitor blood sugar levels

Performing an emergency blood sugar level check is the first thing that you should do if your diabetic dog isn’t feeling well.

This will tell you the blood sugar level and you can forward this information to the vet for further instructions.

If you are not sure how to check your dog’s blood sugar levels, here is How To Monitor Your Dog’s Blood Sugar [The Proper Way]

Adjust their diet

A balanced and consistent diet is very important for diabetic dogs.

In fact, dogs get their insulin dose based on how much food they eat.

If your dog received the full dose of insulin but didn’t finish their food, it can lead to low blood sugar levels.

This is why it is important to monitor how much your dog eats and to notify the veterinarian to possibly reduce the insulin dosage if your pet isn’t able to finish their meal a few days in a row.

Note: If your diabetic dog isn’t eating their meal completely, avoid giving them snacks or treats that will make them feel full.

Keep them hydrated

Water is important for diabetic dogs.

You have to make sure that your dog has water available at all times.

If your dog is refusing to drink water because it is not feeling well, you can place the water bowl near where they are lying and make them drink.

If the blood sugar is high, take them on a walk

When your diabetic dog isn’t feeling well due to high blood sugar, take them out on a walk.

Walking will reduce their blood sugar levels.

However, we have to investigate the cause of high blood sugar.

This is why while you are walking, make sure to call the veterinarian and notify them.

Tell the vet that even with the proper insulin, food, and exercise, your diabetic dog still has high blood sugar levels.

Provide a comfortable environment

In the meantime, you can create a comfortable environment.

If your pup is not feeling well, place them on soft bedding.

Bring them their favorite toy and just make them as comfortable as possible.

In Conclusion

Learning about diabetes and how it affects dogs is a must for every pet parent.

Knowing what diabetes can do to your dog and recognizing the signs of diabetic complications will save your pups life.

With proper care and management, diabetic dogs can live happy and long life.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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