What Causes Dog Diabetes?


Did you know that dogs, just like humans, can contract diabetes? Unfortunately, it is possible and fairly common for dogs to suffer from diabetes, and there are a few underlying problems that can contribute to it as well. As a pet owner, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what potentially causes dog diabetes so you can help prevent your dog from reaching this point.

What causes dog diabetes

Potential Factors That Can Cause Dog Diabetes

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common causes of diabetes in dogs. We’ll explain why these factors contribute to this disease as well as what you can do to help your dog if he experiences any of these factors.

Uncontrollable Factors

As may be obvious by their name, these are factors that neither you nor your dog can control. While these may not be preventable, it’s still important to know and learn about them to keep in mind for your pet.

Some uncontrollable factors that can potentially cause dog diabetes include:


Female dogs have almost twice the risk of developing diabetes as male dogs do. This is not a controllable factor, and it is an unfortunate part of the genetics related to diabetes.

If you have a female dog, you will need to work hard to ensure she remains healthy and keeps up with any health and wellness recommendations provided by her veterinarian.


Unlike humans, dogs are not very likely to be born with diabetes, although this can still occur now and then. Most dogs are at least five years old before they develop diabetes, because this disease often requires dogs to have led an unhealthy lifestyle for a long while before it develops.

For the most part, this disease remains most common in senior dogs. If you have an older dog, take extra precautions to help keep him healthy and active.


Any dog has the ability to develop diabetes, regardless of breed. Even mixed-breed dogs have this potential. However, there are some breeds that are much more prone to diabetes than others, including:

  • Puli
  • Pugs
  • Schnauzers
  • Dachshunds
  • Poodles

If your dog is full-blooded or mixed-breed with one of these breeds, your vet may instruct you on watching for early signs of diabetes in your pet.

Partially-Controllable Factors

These factors are categorized as ones that may be able to be controlled at a small level, but are still mainly uncontrollable. Just like with uncontrollable factors, although these may not be able to be 100% prevented, it’s still a good idea to know about them.

Partially-controllable factors that could cause dog diabetes are:

Chronic pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis may occur in dogs with no underlying cause, in which case it is not a controllable factor. However, it may also sometimes occur in dogs who are frequently fed table scraps, are overfed regularly, or are given poor quality dog food. In these cases, the condition is controllable.

Chronic pancreatitis may lead to diabetes due to the damage done to the pancreas by this condition.


Some dogs may require steroids for uncontrollable reasons, such as anaphylactic reactions to allergens or asthma attacks, among others. However, some dogs need steroids due to avoidable problems, making this a partially-controllable factor.

Long-term steroid use can cause damage to the pancreas and increase a dog’s risk of developing diabetes.

However, something important to note here is that there are alternative therapies to using steroids as well for avoidable problems or common issues, such as skin conditions, that were treated with steroids in the past. Talk with your veterinarian about potential alternatives if you’d like to know more about them for your pet.

Autoimmune Conditions

Autoimmune conditions may occur in dogs with no underlying cause. If they are left untreated, they may eventually cause diabetes as well. However, if a dog’s autoimmune disorder is treated and managed with the help of a good, trusted vet, then this risk can be significantly reduced.

Always keep up with your dog’s treatments for best results.

Controllable Factors

This category discusses the factors that are completely controllable. These are extremely important to know about so you can learn what these are and develop a plan to help avoid them.

Common controllable causes of dog diabetes include:

Poor diet

Dogs who are fed low-quality dog food throughout their lives may be more prone to developing diabetes later in life than others. Additionally, dogs who are fed table scraps, especially those consisting of very high-fat foods, may also be more prone to this disease as they get older.

Just like in humans, diabetes is more common in dogs who are severely overweight or obese, so it is important to keep your dog on a healthy diet that will prevent him from putting on too much weight.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise goes along with diet in keeping your dog healthy, fit, and well. If your dog does not get frequent exercise, then he will be more at risk for diabetes, especially as he gets older.

Even if he is diagnosed with diabetes, your vet will likely want you to exercise him a little bit every day.

Intact Dogs

Finally, dogs who are left intact—that is, not spayed or neutered—have a greater risk of developing diabetes than those who are fixed. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to have your dog spayed or neutered as early as possible for both health and wellness.

Go to a Vet if You Think Your Dog May Have Diabetes

Now that you know a little bit more about what causes dog diabetes, you can work to prevent it in your dog. Of course, the best thing you can do for your dog’s health is to keep up with his regular vet visits and make sure he gets the medical treatment he needs when he needs it.

By working with a trusted vet, you can ensure your dog will live a healthy, happy, full life and that you will be able to manage any diseases or conditions that occur along the way.

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