The good news is that diabetic dogs develop fewer long-term complications than their human counterparts.
Cataracts are the most common complication of diabetes in dogs. These develop when blood glucose is high for a prolonged period (chronic hyperglycemia). Breakdown products of these high concentrations of glucose bind to proteins in the lens of the eye.
This draws water into the lens of the eye, which swells disrupting its normal clear structure. These changes may not be visible immediately, but the lens of the eye gradually becomes opaque leading to partial or complete visual impairment.
Your veterinarian can advise you about your dog’s cataracts and may recommend surgery. Cataract surgery may be carried out once the clinical signs of diabetes in your dog have improved or resolved on insulin treatment.
The presence of another disease or infection may make diabetes more difficult to manage. It is important that diabetics that suddenly have a recurrence or worsening of signs be checked for infections and other diseases.
Ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition with signs including decreased appetite, vomiting and lethargy, can develop in diabetics.
Contact your veterinarian promptly if you are worried or notice any changes in your diabetic dog.