How to Care for a Diabetic Dog

by Mary Lougee

Canine diabetes, or diabetes mellitus, happens when the pancreas does note secrete enough insulin to use fats, proteins and sugars efficiently. Living with a diabetic dog may be stressful to any owner at first, but this incurable disease is manageable with close attention to diet, insulin therapy and exercise.

Insulin Injections


With Type 1 diabetes, the most common type, a dog doesn't produce enough insulin and requires insulin injections for energy and well-being. Like humans, a dog can take short-acting, intermediate-acting and long-acting insulin. Your vet will advise you as you learn to give your pet the same amount of the correct type at the same time everyday to regulate his blood sugar. The cost of insulin, syringes and other diabetic supplies vary according to the type of insulin your dog needs and the dosage. Diabetic supplies for a small to medium-size dog could cost $30 to $80 per month.

Feeding Diabetic Dogs


Talk to your veterinarian about your dog's diet. Most diabetic dogs do well on a high-fiber diet to slow the uptake of glucose into the bloodstream. A low-fat diet has fewer calories and may promote weight loss.

An insulin injection on an empty stomach can cause a dog to become extremely ill, so insulin is always given before a meal or directly afterwards. Since most dogs need injections two to three times a day, you will likely be advised to split your pet's meals into the same intervals. Treats between meals are usually OK as long as they are low in sugar and carbohydrates to lessen the effect on your pooch's blood sugar levels.

Daily Schedule and Exercise


Your diabetic friend should be on a daily schedule that includes the same amount of food and medications, and the same amount of exercise with the same intensity, at the same times each day. A longer or more vigorous walk than usual, for instance, can cause your dog's glucose level to drop significantly and make him feel ill.

Natural Approaches


You can take a holistic approach to care for your diabetic dog instead of using insulin injections. His food and daily exercise routine should be the same as for any diabetic dog, and a holistic vet can help you find the right natural substances to manage the disease. Adding supplements to his diet might help. Galega officinalis improves pancreas functions that secrete insulin. Chromium may improve naturally produced insulin's effectiveness, balance cholesterol and reduce heart disease. Bilberry may stimulate insulin production and reduce blood sugar.

Monitoring Diabetic Dogs


You need to monitor your diabetic dog closely and report any changes in eating, exercise level or anything indicating that his medication may need changes. If his diabetes is not well controlled, the dog may experience loss of weight, excess thirst and urination, vomiting, dehydration and lethargy. Never take it upon yourself to adjust insulin injections for your pet; contact your veterinarian so he can make adjustments as necessary.

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