Dogs with diabetes fail to produce enough insulin. Diabetes is relatively common affliction in dogs, affecting up to 1 percent of them, according to a 1990 study published in the “Journal of the American Veterinary Association.” Fortunately, canine diabetes is manageable with your veterinarian’s help. As part of the treatment, you will need to monitor your dog’s glucose level. The best way to do this is with a high-quality glucose monitor.
Diabetes in Dogs
To diagnose diabetes in dogs, veterinarians often order a urinalysis, a serum profile and a complete blood count. The urine from a healthy dog does not contain glucose; the combination of glucose-positive urine and elevated glucose blood levels while fasting is usually sufficient for a diagnosis, though your veterinarian will likely perform other tests to check for other common health problems. For example, diabetic dogs often suffer from urinary tract infections. Diabetes is most common in dogs of middle age.
The Importance of Monitoring
After diagnosing your pooch with diabetes, the veterinarian will conduct a 24-hour study of your pet’s glucose and insulin levels. After the testing, your veterinarian will prescribe an appropriate frequency and quantity of insulin for your dog. From this point, you will need to monitor your pet’s glucose levels regularly to ensure that his blood chemistry is appropriate. Even if your pup’s glucose levels remain consistent over a long period, periodic fluctuations may happen from time to time. If your dog develops additional health problems, begins taking additional medications, changes exercise regimen or, in the case of unspayed females, experiences hormonal changes, the dog's insulin needs will likely change. As such changes can have serious ramifications for a dog's health, routine testing is imperative.
Blood Test Strips
A blood test is the most accurate way to test your dog’s glucose levels. The test requires a single drop of blood, and your dog will not suffer much pain from the process. Your veterinarian may perform such tests in the office, or you can perform them at home. Your vet will show you how to use a sterile needle or lancet to make a tiny pinprick on your dog’s inner lip or ear. You will collect this drop of blood on a paper test strip. The test strip will change color depending on the level of glucose in the blood. You will then compare the test strip with a key to determine the relative amount of glucose in your dog's blood.
Comparing the color of a test strip with the colors on the provided key is a subjective activity. In order to obtain the most accurate results, many veterinarians encourage dog owners to invest in a glucometer. A glucometer is a specialized device that interprets the test strips for you. After collecting the blood sample on a test strip, you will insert the strip into the device, which will then display your dog's blood glucose level digitally. Glucometers provide the most accurate results for home use, and they make the process easier as well.
Regular testing of your dog's blood with a glucometer is not always possible, in which case you'll need an alternative. Some home tests work by analyzing your dog's urine. Such test require you to collect urine from your pet and use a color-changing test strip that works similarly to blood test strips. This noninvasive test does not cause a dog undue stress, but collecting the specimen can require persistence and creativity. Though not as accurate as a blood test, a urine test is better than doing nothing. Monitoring your dog’s appetite, water consumption, urination frequency and energy level changes may help alert you to a blood sugar problem; however, such monitoring does not provide concrete, objective data.