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Essential Tips for Living With a Diabetic Dog


Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects not only humans, but also their dogs.

Diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes, is the most common type found in canines. It occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. As a result, the dog’s blood glucose, or sugar, level rises.

Diabetes is most often diagnosed in dogs that are six to nine years old. All canine breeds are susceptible, but some breeds are genetically predisposed to it. Female dogs are more likely to have diabetes than males, particularly those that haven’t been spayed.

Watch for symptoms and, if diabetes is diagnosed, carefully follow your veterinarian’s treatment instructions. While there’s no cure yet, diabetes can be successfully managed allowing your dog to live a long and healthy life.

Symptoms

The earlier diabetes is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment.

Initially, you might notice that your dog is drinking lots of water and urinating frequently. He also might be eating more than usual, but losing weight. Symptoms of later stage diabetes include loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness and lethargy. Diabetic dogs frequently have cataracts, too. In life threatening cases, the dog’s breath will smell like nail polish remover. Left untreated, diabetes eventually will affect all of his organs and lead to neurological disorders.

Make an appointment with your veterinarian at the first sign of diabetes. He or she will do blood tests to determine the dog’s blood sugar levels. Urine tests will detect any glucose.

If diabetes is diagnosed, the treatment likely will include a regimen of insulin injections and dietary changes. Unlike humans with diabetes, though, oral pet medications aren't readily available.

Insulin injections

Insulin injections are necessary to regulate glucose levels, but some owners understandably are hesitant to give their dog shots. However, learning how to properly store, measure and inject the insulin is relatively easy. And don’t worry. The shots aren’t painful for your dog.

Maintaining a regular injection schedule is important.  Diabetic dogs do best when their injections and meals are given at the same times each day.

It's also helpful to monitor how your dog responds to the insulin injections. Many vets suggest tracking your dog's blood sugar level using a handheld glucose meter. Urine strips also can be used, but they aren't as precise.

Plotting the blood sugar levels throughout the day allows the vet to see when the levels rise and fall. The insulin dosage can be adjusted accordingly.

Dietary Adjustments

For insulin injections to have maximum benefit, dietary adjustments usually are required. The special diet will work in conjunction with the insulin to lower the dog's blood sugar level. Additionally, the dietary changes will address your dog's weight gain or loss caused by the diabetes.

What a dog eats and when he eats it affects his insulin levels, so follow your veterinarian's recommended feeding schedule. Generally, though, diabetic dogs should eat several times a day. Each meal should be of the same proportion and calorie count.

Diabetic dogs also benefit from regular exercise. Exercise positively impacts the sugar level in your dog's blood stream, so consistency matters. Otherwise, his blood sugar levels will fluctuate. When setting up an exercise regimen for your dog and yourself, commit to routine active outdoor playtime and regular walks.

Another benefit of exercising your dog: you're more active, too.


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