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Clinical signs

Clinical signs exhibited by diabetic dogs reflect the underlying pathological mechanisms of the disease and aid diagnosis. Of course, laboratory tests are needed to confirm diagnosis (see Diagnosis and Management Overview).

There are 3 distinct clinical pictures in diabetes mellitus:

  • Uncomplicated
  • Complicated by ketoacidosis
  • Hyperosmolar syndrome

Signs of uncomplicated diabetes mellitus

The classical signs are:

  • Polyuria/polydipsia
  • Polyphagia
  • Weight loss
  • Increased susceptibility to infections (eg, urinary tract infections)

Signs of diabetes mellitus complicated by ketoacidosis

In addition to the above signs, dogs with ketoacidosis may show:

  • Severe depression
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Dyspnea
  • Collapse or coma

Signs of hyperosmolar syndrome

In dogs in which resistance of target tissues to insulin plays a role in the disease, insulin levels can be elevated. In these cases, ketosis is suppressed and plasma glucose concentrations can become very high. Dogs with hyperosmolar syndrome are usually comatose on presentation.