What Alternative Medications Are Available for a Diabetic Dog Other Than Insulin Shots?

by Naomi Millburn
Shifts in appetite sometimes signify diabetes in canines.

Shifts in appetite sometimes signify diabetes in canines.

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

If you've just discovered that your pooch is diabetic, the thought of giving him insulin injections regularly might seem more than a little intimidating to you. Although insulin shots might be daunting initially, they're in most cases the only way to manage diabetes in dogs. In brighter news, your vet can instruct you on how to properly administer these shots.

Types of Diabetes and Dogs

Both type I and type II diabetes mellitus exist. Type I diabetes mellitus, however, is more often seen in the dog world, according to Dr. Ernest Ward of the VCA Animal Hospitals website. Insulin shots are an absolute must for dogs with type I diabetes mellitus, which entails the absence of insulin manufacturing. These injections work to keep glucose levels steadfast. With type II diabetes mellitus, individuals retain some of the cells that are in charge of manufacturing insulin. Despite that, they still don't make enough insulin. When humans have this kind of diabetes, they're often able to use oral medications that encourage the manufacturing of insulin -- and get good results. However, oral hypoglycemic medications are rarely beneficial for dogs, according to the Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital. This is because dogs with diabetes typically are reliant on insulin, with type I diabetes.

Oral Medications and Canine Diabetes

Oral hypoglycemic drugs aren't commonly used for diabetes management in canines, according to Richard William Nelson and Edward C. Feldman, authors of "Canine and Feline Endocrinology and Reproduction." Although oral hypoglycemic medications are usually ineffective in dogs, studies regarding use of them as possible alternatives to canine insulin injections are ongoing. Oral hypoglycemic medications like Glipizide often can work in cats with diabetes, on the other hand.

Dietary Adjustments and Diabetic Dogs

Although insulin injections are generally the primarily mode of treatment for diabetic dogs, the job doesn't usually end there. Adjustments to diet are typically necessary for dogs with diabetes. If your pet needs tweaks to his diet, your vet will give you information regarding specific foods that are necessary for him. She'll also give you instructions regarding specific amounts of food and consistent daily feeding times. With daily insulin and the right eating habits, diabetic dogs often can continue enjoying vibrant and enriching lifestyles. When dogs have diabetes, veterinarians often instruct their owners to give them diets that provide increased levels of fiber. Sufficient exercise is also often helpful for diabetic dogs.

Administering Insulin Shots

While your fear of giving your pooch insulin injections might have you asking veterinarians about alternative management options in a panic, try to keep cool. Many diabetic owners are able to give their pets shots daily, even if things weren't exactly smooth sailing at first. The goal in giving your dog insulin injections is to always remain cool as a cucumber. If you're anxious, your intuitive dog might be able to detect that -- and then react accordingly, with unease. Giving your pet a positive association to the experience also frequently works. When you're giving him the shot, try placing the yummiest doggiest treat right in front of him. If you have any questions regarding insulin injections and making the process easier for you and your pet, speak to your veterinarian for specific answers and tips.

Photo Credits

  • Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images