Home /

Dogs / Health

/ Is Panting a Symptom of Diabetes in Dogs? (Why It Happens)

Is Panting a Symptom of Diabetes in Dogs? (Why It Happens)

Panting is a natural reaction to heat, excitement, fear, or effort for dogs. It is also a symptom of diabetes. It occurs due to complications of the disease. Contact your veterinarian if your dog is panting excessively when resting or after getting an insulin shot.

Is your diabetic dog panting?

Panting is one of the symptoms of diabetes. But it is also associated with other diseases. 

Veterinarians diagnose diabetes based on the symptoms your dog has. They also perform extra veterinary laboratory tests to rule out medical conditions with similar symptoms.

In this article, you will learn why diabetic dogs pant, what you can do in this case, and more.

Diabetic Dogs Symptoms

The initial symptoms of diabetes in dogs are mild but become severe as the disease progresses. The most common initial signs include excessive water intake and frequent urination. More severe symptoms include panting, vomiting, cataracts, and others.

Dogs can have one of three types of diabetes:

  • Type I (insulin-dependent diabetes) – common in dogs.
  • Type II (non-insulin-dependent diabetes) – rare in dogs.
  • Type III (gestational diabetes) – rare in dogs.

The symptoms of type I diabetes in dogs are commonly mild and rarely severe. Severe signs occur as the disease progresses. Severe symptoms occur most often when owners fail to diagnose their dogs early.

The most common symptoms of diabetes, regardless of the stage or type, include the following:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Decreased appetite or increased appetite
  • Weakening
  • Lethargy
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Panting
  • Cataracts or blindness
  • Depression
  • Seizures

These clinical signs also occur in other medical conditions. The vet will perform additional tests to rule out other diseases and confirm diabetes.

Diabetes can lead to your dog’s death if left untreated.

Your Dog May Be Having a Seizure

Why Is My Diabetic Dog Panting?

Panting is one of the symptoms of type I diabetes in dogs but can also happen in type II diabetes. It occurs due to pain, high blood pressure, or after the administration of insulin. It is best to take your dog to the vet if it starts to pant.

You have nothing to worry about if your dog’s panting is normal. Dogs pant regularly for many reasons:

  • Overheating
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Increased physical effort

Panting can also occur as a secondary symptom in diabetes or other diseases. Several diseases can overlap in older dogs, such as heart disease and diabetes. The panting is not always caused by diabetes.

For example, your diabetic dog can also pant because of heart failure, respiratory conditions, or Cushing’s disease.

If you are sure your dog doesn’t suffer from other medical conditions, panting in diabetic dogs can occur due to:

  1. Pain
  2. High blood pressure (hypertension)
  3. Diabetic ketoacidosis

1. Pain and Diabetes

Dog Pain and Injuries

Diabetes affects not only the pancreas but also the kidneys, heart, and other organs. As diabetes worsens, pain and discomfort can set in.

Pain in diabetes can also occur due to nerve damage (neuropathy). High blood sugar can damage the nerves, most often affecting the limbs[1] and optic nerve.

Symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Pain
  • Limb numbness
  • Gastrointestinal, urinary, or heart problems

Neuropathy is painful and can cause discomfort. Pain and discomfort can lead to panting, which is often associated with restlessness in diabetic dogs.

Many diabetic dog owners wonder why their dog pants at night. Panting is a response to discomfort. Dogs will also pant during the day, but it’s easier to hear at night when it is quieter.

If your dog doesn’t have a diagnosis and it is restless and panting, take it to the vet as it is a symptom of diabetes.

2. High Blood Pressure and Diabetes

Dog Cloudy Eyes

Diabetes can cause systemic high blood pressure (hypertension) by damaging the arteries. This makes them targets for atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries caused by plaque buildup).[2]

Systemic high blood pressure is found in 46% of dogs with diabetes[3] and can lead to complications of the disease:

  • Heart problems (heart failure, blood vessel damage)
  • Vision problems
  • Kidney disease

Symptoms of heart disease in dogs include panting and other clinical signs. Dogs with heart diseases pant as if they recently exercised. In heart disease, panting occurs when resting or after the slightest activity.

3. Diabetic Ketoacidosis


Diabetic ketoacidosis is the most common acute complication of diabetes. It is caused by severe insulin deficiency. In the absence of insulin that allows glucose to enter the cells, fat burning increases, and lipids produce ketone bodies.[4]

It is most common in type I diabetes but can also affect dogs with type II diabetes that produce very little insulin.

Diabetic ketoacidosis symptoms in dogs include:

  • Panting
  • Accelerated breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Acetone or fruity breath
  • General malaise

Rapid intervention helps to reduce mortality.

My Dog Starts Panting After Insulin Shot

Your dog may start panting after its insulin shot if it did not take effect, and your pet’s blood sugar rose after its meal.

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) can make dogs pant. Your dog’s blood sugar rises after it eats. Insulin is administered right after meals to keep hyperglycemia under control.

If your dog starts panting after its insulin shot, it is probably because the insulin hasn’t started working yet. Its body reacts to the food it is digesting, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.

Talk to your veterinarian to change your pet’s insulin hour or dose if this happens to your dog.

Never change the insulin dose on your own, as it can lead to severe side effects if your dog receives more insulin than it needs.

Insulin Overdose

Side Effects Of Too Much Insulin In Dogs

Too much insulin can endanger your dog’s life. Insulin overdose can result in the following symptoms:

  • Shivering
  • Restlessness
  • Hunger
  • Impaired coordination or balance
  • Disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death

Insulin can lead to a significant drop in blood sugar to hypoglycemic coma. Take your dog to the emergency room if you have given your pet too much insulin.

If you can’t get to the vet, rub your dog’s gums with maple syrup or corn syrup or place it under its tongue. Both are highly concentrated in sugar, and the oral mucosa is one of the fastest routes of absorption.

Never administer insulin to your dog on an empty stomach. Reduce the dose if your dog has eaten only a bit.

What Can I Do if My Diabetic Dog Is Panting?

Take your diabetic dog to the vet If it is panting and struggling. If panting occurs after its insulin shot, wait for it to take effect or talk to your vet about changing the dose and schedule.

Panting in diabetic dogs is common. Diabetic dogs can do great, and then suddenly start to pant. It can also occur if the disease worsens.

Talk to your veterinarian if your dog is panting right after its insulin shot or if your pet shows other symptoms.

Take your dog to the vet immediately if:

  • Your dog’s panting starts suddenly.
  • Your dog is panting constantly and heavily.
  • Your dog’s tongue or gums turn blue, purple, or white. It can happen when your dog isn’t getting enough oxygen.
  • You think your dog may be in pain.

Canine Diabetes Monitoring, Prevention, and Risk Factors

Diabetes is a complicated but manageable disease if it is diagnosed early. You cannot prevent diabetes that is due to genetic factors. Take your dog to the vet if you think your pet has diabetes or behaves strangely.

Diabetes Monitoring

It is extremely important to strictly follow the recommendations of your veterinarian in order to monitor your dog’s diabetes. 

Here is what you can do:

  • Don’t miss routine check-ups.
  • Pay attention to what diet you feed your dog.
  • Make sure your pet always eats something before administering insulin.
  • Check your dog’s blood sugar regularly.
  • Do not miss its insulin shots.

Diabetes Prevention

Diabetes is difficult to prevent in dogs. Many dogs are affected because diabetes is genetic and not caused by an unhealthy lifestyle or poor diet.

Although there are no well-defined causes of diabetes in dogs, the disease has often been associated with obesity.

Make sure your dog does not become obese and take it to regular checkups, even if it seems healthy. This way, the vet can detect early the diseases and factors that could lead to diabetes.

obese puppy

Diabetes Risk Factors

  • Obesity – contributes to insulin resistance and increases the risk of pancreatitis.
  • Pancreatic diseases
  • Autoimmune or viral diseases.
  • Age – Although diabetes can occur at any age, cases are more common in dogs that are older (6-9 years).
  • Gender – Unspayed females have an increased risk of diabetes.
  • Steroid medication.
  • Genetics – Diabetes can occur in any purebred or not. 

Breeds with increased risk of developing diabetes

  • Poodle
  • Bichon
  • Pug
  • Dachshund
  • Samoyed
  • Fox Terrier
  • Beagle


Does Diabetes in Dogs Cause Panting?

Yes, panting in diabetes is a symptom that occurs due to high blood sugar. Panting in diabetic dogs can also occur in diabetes complications, such as ketoacidosis or systemic high pressure.

Why Is My Dog Panting and Restless All of a Sudden?

These two symptoms can occur as a result of fear, stress, or anxiety but can also represent a sign of diabetes. Take your dog to the vet if the panting and restlessness occur frequently.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

Looking for something?

Try searching our website!