Can Dogs with Diabetes Be Treated Without Insulin Injections?

Dog receiving an insulin injection

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

In almost all cases of canine diabetes, insulin is the recommended treatment. Insulin must be injected and often needs to be given twice daily. However, many dog owners are less than enthusiastic about the thought of giving their dog insulin injections. If you are one of those people who does not like the thought of administering insulin to your dog, you may be wondering if there are other options available for treating your diabetic dog.

Treatments Other Than Insulin

Unfortunately, other options for treating diabetes in dogs have proven to be less than successful. At one time, there was hope that the oral hyperglycemic agents that act to lower blood glucose when given by mouth would be useful in treating diabetic dogs. That has not proven to be the case in most instances.

Why Insulin Is the Best Treatment

The primary reason that insulin is the best treatment for canine diabetes is the fact that dogs with diabetes almost always suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes. This means that the cells in the pancreas that normally secrete insulin are no longer functional and the pancreas can no longer secrete insulin in quantities sufficient to regulate your diabetic dog's blood glucose levels.

This differs from feline diabetes because, especially early in the disease, cats may suffer from non-insulin dependent diabetes, meaning that their pancreas still retains some ability to secrete insulin. Because some insulin-secreting ability exists for these cats, oral hypoglycemic products may (or may not) be effective. However, in dogs, these products do not work well because the canine diabetic pancreas simply cannot rally to secrete insulin.

In most cases of canine diabetes, insulin is a necessary part of treatment. In fact, insulin injections are really the cornerstone of treatment for diabetes in dogs. Remember, though, that, even though the thought of administering insulin injections to your dog may be scary at first, most people can be taught to give the injections easily. Your veterinarian can help teach you how to do that.

Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Diabetes Mellitus In Dogs And CatsVeterinary Manual, 2020