Dogs, like humans, can suffer from diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes. According to the Dog Owner's Veterinary Handbook, diabetes is a common disease in dogs. More female dogs get it than male dogs and the average age for the onset is from 6 to 9 years.
Like in humans, diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin production in the pancreas. Dogs who get diabetes may show various signs and there are many side effects associated with diabetes.
Frequent Urination and Excessive Thirst
A common symptom of diabetes is excessive thirst combined with frequent urination. Dogs who have diabetes frequently need a plentiful supply of water and may be more prone to urinating inside than those dogs who do not have diabetes. You may have to let the dog out more often and he may not be able to wait to go outside as long as other dogs can.
Chronic or Recurrent Infections
Dogs who suffer from diabetes mellitus often suffer from chronic and recurrent bacterial and fungal infections such as dermatitis, pneumonia, cystitis and prostatitis. The reason is that dogs who have diabetes have more sugar in their cells and therefore give the bacteria and fungus nutrition from which to feed.
Cataracts and Blindness
Dogs who suffer from diabetes are susceptible to developing cataracts, which can cause impaired vision or even blindness. The lens becomes cloudy because of edema due to the way the lens within the eye metabolizes glucose. Dogs who have their diabetes controlled are less susceptible than those whose blood sugar is not controlled.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is where there is too much glucose in the bloodstream (hyperglycemia). Ketones, which are acids, build up in the bloodstream when the body uses fat for energy because the body can't process the sugar. The dog's breath will smell like nail polish. This is a dangerous and life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.
Rapid Weight Loss
In the early stages, dogs who have diabetes mellitus may eat quite a bit of food but lose weight rapidly. If left untreated, the dog's appetite drops off and the dog doesn't eat.