Health & Medical

Ask a Vet: Is Diabetes in Dogs Genetic and How Can We Prevent It?

Understanding Dog Diabetes | Vanillapup

Diabetes in dogs can be a silent disease. Know if your dog is at higher risk, learn to recognise the symptoms, and take the necessary prevention steps.

Q. Is diabetes genetic in dogs and do certain breeds run a higher risk? Is there a way I can try to prevent it?

Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic disease that is caused by a shortage of insulin (Type I) or a resistance to insulin (Type II), with the former being more common.

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. Its job is to deliver glucose and other nutrients from the bloodstream into the cells for energy.

When the body is not producing enough insulin or is not using the produced insulin well, it is unable to convert glucose to energy. That results in a buildup of glucose in the blood also called hyperglycemia, which can lead to multi-organ damage.

Genetics and high-risk breeds

Diabetes has been linked to genetic predisposition by familial association. Also, some breeds face a higher risk than the rest. They include the Australian Terrier, Bichon Frise, Cairn Terrier, Fox Terrier, Keeshond, Miniature and Standard Poodle, Samoyed, Miniature and Standard Schnauzer, and Spitz.

Other risk factors

1. Obesity, which can affect a body’s ability to respond to insulin

2. Females, especially if unsterilised

3. History of pancreatitis

Diabetes prevention

1. Keep your dog at a lean body weight. Make sure she gets regular exercise and adjust her dietary caloric intake to overcome or prevent obesity

2. Provide your dog with a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates with the addition of more fibre


Early detection of diabetes paints a more favourable prognosis. Hence, if your dog shows any of the following signs, please consult a vet as soon as possible for a blood test and urinalysis.

– Increase in water intake

– Increase in urination

– Weight loss despite good appetite

– Lethargy

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Photo credit: kirtaph via / CC BY

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Dr. Lee Yan-Yi
Dr Lee Yan-Yi graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine (Murdoch University), Perth in December 2013 and has been working with The Animal Ark Veterinary Group. Her areas of interest include surgery and ophthalmology.
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