Why Has My Diabetic Dog Got Diarrhea?

Has your diabetic dog got diarrhea? ¹

Diabetes is a common disease found in dogs, especially in middle-age and older dogs.

It’s a complex condition which has numerous possible side effects.

And the one that I want to explore in this article is diarrhea.

And in this article, you will learn:

  1. Is diarrhea a symptom of diabetes in dogs?
  2. What causes diarrhea in diabetic dogs?
  3. How can a diabetic dog with diarrhea be helped? 
  4. Why might there be blood in the diarrhea?
  5. What is the best food for a diabetic dog with diarrhea? 2 tips
  6. Are there any human foods that might help a diabetic dog with diarrhea?
  7. What other unpleasant side effects can a diabetic dog have?
  8. What are the main symptoms of diabetes in dogs?
  9. What are the main causes of diarrhea in dogs?

Is diarrhea a symptom of diabetes in dogs?

Before I go into too much detail about any links between diabetes and diarrhea, I want to look at diabetes in a bit more detail.

Diabetes in dogs

Diabetes is a chronic disease often found in humans and dogs alike.

There are several types of diabetes, with the most common in dogs being diabetes mellitus or sugar diabetes.

This is the condition where the dog’s body doesn’t produce enough insulin, which is a hormone responsible for converting glucose into energy.

Low levels of insulin will disrupt the body’s metabolic conversion of food into energy.

Instead of getting converted into energy, the glucose/sugar from the food circulates in the blood, making your dog’s blood sugar level to be too high. 

Because diabetes is related to the dog’s metabolism and diarrhea is a gastrointestinal issue, diabetes can sometimes induce diarrhea.

So yes, diarrhea can be a symptom of diabetes in dogs. That being said, just because your dog has diarrhea doesn’t mean they are diabetic.

There are other causes of diarrhea in dogs that we will get into later in this article.

What causes diarrhea in diabetic dogs?

Diarrhea in dogs with diabetes happens because of prolonged low amounts of insulin, inducing high levels of blood sugar.

Long term high sugar blood levels generally have a negative impact on the body, including damaging the digestive system.

Gastrointestinal complications–including diarrhea–in dogs with diabetes are usually related to neuron dysfunction in the digestive system.

How can a diabetic dog with diarrhea be helped?

First of all, no matter the cause, when your dog has diarrhea the first thing you should do is rest their digestive system.

This means not giving them food for a short period of time so that the gastrointestinal tract can heal.

For further treatment, when it comes to diarrhea in diabetic dogs, this can lead to more serious problems.

Therefore you must immediately contact the vet so they can deal with the problem more thoroughly. Do not try any home remedies or medications for diarrhea yet.

Why might there be blood in the diarrhea?

Similar to how diabetes can induce diarrhea, diabetes also has a potential to induce stool bleeding.

Damage to the GI tract nerve caused by diabetes can lead to scarring and damage to the liver, inflicting injury to the walls to the point of bleeding out.

What is the best food for a diabetic dog with diarrhea? 2 tips

After a lot of research, scientists believe that it is more important when a diabetic dog is fed than what they are fed.

I’m assuming that you are feeding your dog a high quality diet, right?

Keeping to the same feeding times day after day is important because it helps to stabilize your dog’s production of insulin.

Give complex carbs to your diabetic dog

First of all, a diet for dogs with diabetes should consist of high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates including whole grains. Just like for diabetic humans, avoid simple carbohydrates or simple sugars. This will help control the blood sugar and prevent further nerve damage in the GI tract.

Fiber is good, but…

Another important nutrient that diabetic dogs need is fiber. However, if your diabetic dog is also experiencing diarrhea, digesting too much fiber might worsen the problem. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate fiber altogether since they still need the nutrient. Just ask the vet how much you should cut down the fiber serving.

Are there any human foods that might help a diabetic dog with diarrhea?

For diabetic dogs with diarrhea, it’s best to give them bland food. This is usually rice, pumpkin, oatmeal, or boiled chicken meat. 

What other unpleasant side effects can a diabetic dog have?

Diabetes is a horrible disease and like many other conditions, it doesn’t just have one side effect.

As well as diarrhea, I have created a list of other common side effects

  1. Vomiting

Vomiting is a sign of chronic diabetes, or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). This is when the body starts breaking down fat too fast to make energy, inducing the liver to produce ketones or blood acids. This causes the dog to become nauseous, inducing vomits.

DKA is the last stage of diabetes, so if your diabetic dog is vomiting, get them to the vet as soon as possible as this can be life-threatening. 

Another sign of DKA is a distinctive breath smell kind of like the smell of nail polish remover, but this isn’t always the case.

  1. Cataracts and blindness

Cataracts are very common in dogs with diabetes mellitus. In fact, many diabetic dogs gradually lose their vision until they become totally blind in the span of weeks or months.

This is because eye lenses absorb glucose and convert some of it to sorbitol. But when there’s too much sugar in the eye fluids, the excess forms a sugar buildup of clouding on the lens or what we usually call cataracts.

Cataracts and blindness can be avoided if you treat your dog’s diabetes early and manage their blood sugar to a safe level.

  1. Urinary tract infections

Another very common issue in dogs with diabetes is UTI. High levels of glucose in the urine or glucosuria attract bacteria, causing the urinary tract to be infected.

Female dogs are more susceptible to diabetes-induced UTI because of the anatomy of the urinary tract. The condition is pretty tricky to treat, and even if your dog has received a sufficient dose of insulin, they might still get UTI.

What are the main symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

If you’re still not sure whether your dog is diabetic or if they just have diarrhea, here are the most common symptoms of diabetes in dogs.

  1. Frequent peeing

When the level of sugar in a dog’s blood is too high, the blood sugar often spills from the bloodstream into the urine. The kidneys will then grab water from the dog’s tissues to wash out the blood sugar, thus secreting more urine. Veterinarians call the condition of excessive urination polyuria.

  1. Frequent drinking

While drinking is a good thing, if your dog suddenly likes to gobble up some water more frequently than usual, this might be a red flag. Many might see their dog peeing more frequently and drinking more frequently and think they must be peeing a lot because they’re drinking a lot. Wrong, it’s actually the other way around.

Because diabetic dogs urinate a lot, they become dehydrated more often, and this is why they drink more frequently. Remember, always notice the change. If your dog has always drunk a lot of water, they’re probably fine. But if they’re suddenly drinking way more, this change is what might be the symptom.

  1. Increased appetite

Aside from increased drinking and urinating, diabetic dogs also develop an unusually ravenous appetite. As stated before, low levels of insulin disrupt the body’s conversion of glucose into energy. Because of this failure in attaining energy, the dog’s body will demand more food to make up for the energy that it’s not getting, thus inducing hunger.

However, since the system is broken, they won’t attain energy no matter how much they eat. This is why diabetic dogs have an insatiable appetite or polyphagia.

  1. Lethargy

Another sign of diabetes is low energy. This is directly related to their body’s failure to convert glucose into energy. Dogs with diabetes will also often stumble or have difficulty moving around.

  1. Extreme weight loss

After becoming lethargic, diabetic dogs usually also lose weight despite eating normally. This happens when their body isn’t able to obtain energy from food, so it will break down muscle and fat from the body and convert them into energy.

The weight loss isn’t always sudden, it can also be gradual, but if this happens and you see your dog eating the normal amount, this might be a cause for alarm.

What are the main causes of diarrhea in dogs?

After all, your dog’s diarrhea might not be diabetes related. Here are some of the most common causes of diarrhea in dogs.

  • Eating contaminated or spoiled food
  • Ingestion of foreign objects
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Parasites
  • Viral infections
  • Change in diet
  • Stress

Other possible causes of diarrhea in dogs are:

  • Colitis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Intestinal cancer
  • Liver disease

Photo credits

¹ Photo by Sherry Wright on Unsplash