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Canine diabetes


Dogs are susceptible to several diseases that also occur in humans, including diabetes, dental and heart disease, epilepsy, cancer, hypothyroidism, and arthritis. Dogs often share their environment with their owner. If there is something in the environment that triggers a disease in humans, it is possible that this will also affect the dog.


Like humans, dogs can also develop diabetes. Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a life-threatening disease that is diagnosed by high blood glucose. Canine diabetes is further divided into two groups, Type 1 DM (insulin deficiency diabetes) or Type 2 DM (insulin resistance diabetes). These types are similar to those that affect humans.

Type I diabetes occurs during the early years of the dog’s life and is also referred to as juvenile dog diabetes.

Type II diabetes is normally observed in senior dogs and typically occurs between 5 and 12 years of age.

Diabetes typically occurs in dogs that have passed its middle age and is less common in dogs under 3 years of age. Aside from older dogs, some breeds are more susceptible to dog diabetes than others. Obese female dogs are also more prone to diabetes.

Diabetes is considered an autoimmune disease and is hereditary in dogs. It may lead to further system malfunctions and early diagnosis is crucial so that the dog’s disease can be reversed. Hyperglycemia is a major initiator of a range of circulatory complications and diabetes can lead to a variety of secondary diseases, especially heart disease.

Management of canine diabetes starts with a proper diet. There are foods that the dog should eat and other to avoid in order to helping this condition. Certain medications may be required for dogs suffering from the worst forms of this disease. Insulin injections are important and can extend the dog’s life and allow it to live normally despite having diabetes.


Catchpole et al. (2005) Canine diabetes mellitus: can old dogs teach us new tricks? Diabetologia 48:1948-1956.
Fall (2009) Characterisation of Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs. Acta Universitatis agriculturae Sueciae, 1652-6880; 2009:45 
ISBN 978-91-86195-92-2.


In that the dogs' medical care and food quality increases, the dogs tend to live longer. Hence, identification of physiological changes that change the dogs’ nutritional needs during its lifetime is of interest. Although reference levels for serum metabolites and blood values have been established for healthy adult dogs, these guidelines may not be appropriate for evaluating the health of weanling or aged animals. Body size is a factor in the classification of the dog's life stage (large breeds are considered to be older at a younger chronological age than smaller breeds), but most considered "old" when they reach 7 to 10 years of age.

By identifying changes in levels of serum metabolites, hematology values, and digestive efficiency in older dogs, the researchers can formulate diets that are more suited for this life stage. Conversely, the juvenile dogs also have unique physiological characteristics and nutritional needs.


Kuzmuk et al. (2005) Diet and Age Affect Intestinal Morphology and Large Bowel Fermentative End-Product Concentrations in Senior and Young Adult Dogs. J Nutr 135:1940-1945.
Swanson et al. (2004) Diet affects nutrient digestibility, hematology, and serum chemistry of senior and weanling dogs. J Anim Sci 82:1713-1724.



Most of the basic and preclinical research is performed on rodents. However, inclusion of a non-rodent species is required in safety assessment of pharmaceuticals. The use of a non-rodent species for the characterization of new drugs is intended to limit the uncertainty in the extrapolation process from animal toxicity data to the human situation. Such uncertainties are species variation, scaling from small, short-lived animals to larger, long- lived species, and the use of a homogeneous animal population. The dog is an important respiratory and cardiovascular research model. Beagle is the dog breed most often used in animal testing due to their size and gentle nature and they are commonly used as models for human diseases in cardiology and endocrinology.


SCHER, (2009) Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks: The need for non-human primates in biomedical research, production and testing of products and devices (Opinion report).
NCB, (2005) Nuffield Council On Bioethics: The ethics of research involving animals (Report).



The Mercodia Canine Insulin ELISA constitutes a link between pre-clinical research and clinical phase trials and is also commonly used by those conducting veterinary research. This is an immunoassay for the quantitative determination of canine insulin in serum or plasma and specially optimized for canine samples.

Reference values

Samples were collected from 34 dogs of 18 different breeds aged 2–10 years old. Insulin was measured with the Mercodia Canine Insulin ELISA (10-1203-01). The mean insulin concentration in the 34 clinically healthy fasted dogs was 165 ng/L (median 154 ng/L, range 40–385 ng/L).


Provo et al. (2008) A novel sandwich ELISA for the measurements of insulin in canine serum and plasma. Poster presented at AAVLD, Reno, USA.
Öberg et al. (2011) Validation of a species-optimized enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for determination of serum concentrations of insulin in dogs. Vet Clin Pathol 40: 66–73