When your canine companion is diagnosed with any medical condition, it can be overwhelming. As your mind is in a daze, it’s possible to miss important information about your pet’s illness, such as its causes, treatments, and warning signs. Even if your canine companion has received a diabetes diagnosis, she can still live a long and happy life. With good communication and teamwork, we can ensure your dog’s diabetes is well-managed so she remains as healthy as possible. If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, read on for 10 facts you should know. 

#1: If your dog doesn’t eat, don’t give her insulin.

A diabetic pet needs to eat before you administer insulin. For best results, inject insulin within one hour after feeding to prevent blood sugar spikes. Many pet owners like to administer insulin while their pet eats to take advantage of that distraction, but, if you do that, ensure your pet eats all her food. Try giving her insulin at the end of her meal so no dose adjustments are needed for a partially finished meal. 

#2: If your pet’s insulin is supposed to be given twice daily, try to time it as close to 12 hours apart as possible.

We understand that having a diabetic pet requires a huge time commitment, especially when ensuring twice-daily insulin injections are given on time. If you’re unable to consistently give insulin injections at the scheduled times, let us know. We can find a different solution that fits your lifestyle. 

#3: Feed your pet a consistent diet.

Since people have the luxury of continuous blood glucose monitoring, they can enjoy varied foods in their diet. If you’re monitoring your pet’s blood glucose at home, you may have some room to spice up her meal plan, but, ideally stick to foods with the same nutritional components and calories to ensure appropriate insulin dosages. Diabetic dogs should be fed foods high in protein and fiber to allow for slower glucose absorption, while avoiding excess carbs, fats, and sugars. 

#4: Stick to a regular exercise routine.

Severe swings in exercise patterns can throw your pet’s glucose out of whack. If your pet is normally a couch potato and her insulin dose is calculated for those energy requirements, an intense, day-long hike will change what her body needs to remain stable. Moderate, regular exercise is best for maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy diabetic dog. 

#5: Monitor your pet for signs of hypoglycemia.

While we don’t like your pet being hyperglycemic, hypoglycemia is even more worrisome. If your pet’s blood sugar drops below normal levels, watch out for these signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Dilated pupils
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Seizures
  • Coma

Hypoglycemia is an emergency condition. Ideally, use a glucometer to check your pet’s blood sugar at home before rubbing Karo or maple syrup on her gums, and if you notice any hypoglycemia signs, take immediate action.

#6: Cut out commercial treats.

Most commercial pet treats are chock-full of carbs and laden with sugar. Swap out your pup’s standard treats with high-protein snacks, such as fresh lean meats or freeze-dried meats. Fresh veggies are a great choice as well, provided they are high in fiber and low in carbs.

#7: Know how to administer your pet’s insulin.

Poking your pet with a needle can be scary. Don’t be afraid to ask for multiple demonstrations and practice with our team until you feel comfortable administering injections. Here are a few other key tips about insulin:

  • Keep refrigerated unless otherwise specified.
  • Vetsulin is the only insulin that is shaken to mix properly. All others are gently rolled to mix. 
  • Ensure your insulin matches your syringes (U-40 or U-100).
  • Double check the dose you draw into your syringe.
  • Check to make sure the insulin injection went under your pet’s skin by feeling for wetness.

#8: Rotate injection sites.

While medications are absorbed at different rates in different areas of the body, you will want to rotate your insulin injection sites. If you consistently give an injection in the exact same spot twice a day, scar tissue will develop and interfere with absorption. Try to rotate from the left to right shoulder.

#9: Understand that multiple disease processes can interfere with insulin metabolism.

Other illnesses can affect how your dog’s body metabolizes her insulin. Urinary tract infections, Cushing’s disease, and dental disease are common in diabetic dogs and can increase insulin requirements. If you have a diabetic pet, stay on top of her oral health care regimen to ensure her insulin works appropriately.

#10: Watch for developing cataracts.

Even with treatment, 75% of dogs develop cataracts and blindness in both eyes within 9 months of a diabetes diagnosis. Early diagnosis and insulin regulation are crucial in maintaining your pet’s eyesight. But, if cataracts develop and go untreated, the lens capsule can rupture, inflammation can lead to glaucoma, and your pet’s eyes may need to be surgically removed for her to be comfortable.

Armed with a vast library of canine diabetes knowledge, you’re ready to manage your pet’s condition successfully. For any questions or assistance, we’re only a phone call away.