Diabetes Mellitis


This disorder is typically due to low levels of insulin hormones in the body or insulin resistance.  This can cause high blood sugar or hyperglycemia, which can be a life threatening condition if left untreated.  There are two major identified types in dogs described as insulin resistant and insulin deficient.


Symptoms: Increased hunger and thirst, frequent urination.  Weight loss may occur in spite of the same amounts of food.  Blood glucose value notably above 75-120 mg/d (normal range) and/or increased glucose/sugar in urine when evaluated.

If untreated, diabetic dogs can exhibit periods of incontinence, weakness, lethargy, staggering, confusion, collapse, coma, seizures and death.
Other issues include increased risk for glaucoma and cataracts. Diabetes has also been linked to obesity and/or a history of pancreatitis.  Females are thought to be at greater risk than males.

Treatment Options: Several insulin substitutes are now available as either injectible or oral medications for managing sugar levels.  It is important to consult with a qualified veterinarian/specialist to determine the best course of treatment.  For dogs, oral medications have not proven to be as useful as injectable insulin.  Regular blood sugar level evaluations should be done to monitor and adjust insulin dosages or prescriptions. When evaluating sugar levels using urinalysis, it is important to be aware of issues known as Ketoacidosis and Somogyi rebound.  These problems are more common in cats, but can also occur in dogs. 

Along with proper medications, feeding a veterinary presciption diet or one that is approved for diabetic dogs is recommended.   Dividing feeding into smaller meals given two or more times a day may help regulate blood sugar levels. 

It is important to keep to a strict schedule for feeding, exercise and administering medications to avoid a potentially life threatening situation of blood sugar levels that are too high or too low.

There is no cure for diabetes, but with proper treatment, many dogs can live a long and relatively normal life.

Known Mode of Inheritance:  unknown in cardigans. Thought to be an autosomal recessive in the Keeshond, there is also evidence that there could be modifier alleles and envornmental factors playing a role in onset and severity.

Age of onset: 6-9 years is typical, but it can occur at earlier and later ages and in puppies before age 1, which may indicate a developmental issue in the pancreas.

Breeds affected

  • Cardigan: yes
  • Pembroke: yes
  • Other Breeds: yes, many breeds including mixed breeds.

Incidence in Cardigans: Unknown.


  • Cardigans: no
  • Other breeds: yes, several breeds.
  • Active?: no

Registry: no

Tests Available: no.
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