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Are there likely to be any complications when treating a diabetic dog?

Updated on June 29, 2010

A pet diagnosed with canine diabetes would be a very sad fact. Apart from the financial burden, especially when the family is on a tight budget, it would certainly be heartbreaking to see a usually lively and frisky pet overwhelmed with pain. Diabetes has no cure, it is a recurring disease. However, with the right treatment, not only would the dog be allowed to live normally, Fido’s life can be extended as well.  There are two types of canine diabetes – diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus. This endocrine disease is known to be hereditary and results from the malfunctioning of the endocrine glands. A pet afflicted with this disease would need utmost care – frequent visits to the vet, close monitoring of blood sugar levels and administration of the correct dosage of insulin would be necessary to maintain the desired blood sugar level. This type of disease would normally require lifelong insulin injections. Unfortunately, the dog has the possibility of developing complication because of this treatment.

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Hypoglycemia is a life threatening diabetes complication that can develop from insulin treatment. Insulin dosages are administered to maintain the blood sugar level on a 24 hour period. However, a mistake in the administration can result to an over dosage of insulin which would cause blood sugar to plummet below the ideal above 80 mg/dl level. A 60 mg/dl blood sugar level would be a serious life threatening situation.

Hypoglycemia symptoms

Weakness, nervousness, incoordination of movement due to muscle tremors are some of the symptoms of hypoglycemia. An owner of a dog with this condition has to act immediately to give the dog immediate treatment that would normalize blood sugar level. A pet that is not given proper treatment could collapse, have seizures and expire.

Care for a hypoglycemic pet

Pet owners should always observe the pet for symptoms of hypoglycemia. Once the symptoms are manifested, the dog would have to be taken to a veterinary facility for administration of intravenous fluids to normalize the blood sugar level. Rubbing the gums with honey or Karo syrup would be an emergency remedy to increase the blood sugar level.

Diabetic Neuropathy

Hyperglycemia or diabetic neuropathy is another complication of treating diabetes. In this case blood sugar level rises. Although neuropathy is not as serious as hypoglycemia that can result to the death of the pet, this complication however is a cause for concern given that the pet can develop temporary or permanent nerve damage. This painful condition can result to disability of the pet.

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

The nerve damage would normally cause weakness in the back legs of the dog. Severe nerve damage would cause numbness. A dog owner must be extra discerning of the pet’s movements. The pet may drag its hind legs, be sluggish and refuse to run. Oftentimes these symptoms are attributed to the advancing age of the dog.


Tight monitoring to maintain the ideal blood sugar level is necessary to prevent this disease from getting worse. Effects of this condition can be reversed once blood sugar level is normalized.

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