Managing your diabetic dog’s health can sometimes be overwhelming. Here are 5 Simple Steps to ease the stress that surrounds caring for a dog with diabetes.
Consistency…yes, that is number one. I know how we all love giving our dog a treat or a quick sneak of the food we are eating. Well, why not, he/she is our best friend? If that’s you, it sounds like we have some habits to break. You see now that their body is no longer effective at producing insulin, it can cause undesirable consequences. (See the article, “My Dog Has Diabetes! Now What Do I Do?”.) So do your best to stick with a consistent plan, not allowing any additional foods. Use other means to reward your best friend. Keep a brush handy for a once over, or a gentle massage works, or even a quick tummy rub! They will enjoy all of them, probably more than food. Dogs thrive on attention!
Schedule- Work with your veterinarian to create a feeding schedule. This makes the daily shot of insulin much more effective at doing its job. Remember, the glucose cannot get into the cells without the help of insulin. If high levels of glucose are left to circulate in the blood it will do damage to sensitive tissues and organs, causing a decline in the overall health of your dog. Keep a food/activity log to help you and your veterinarian better regulate your dog’s intake. Then if problems arise, you will have the information handy to assess the situation.
Exercise – I know you have heard it before, exercise is an important part of daily life for all of us. Your dog is no different, especially when it comes to diabetes. Even though a dog’s type of diabetes is not typically associated with being overweight; a dog who is overweight puts too much stress on their body. This makes managing diabetes even more challenging. Exercise is good for the physical health as well as their mental health. Think how good you feel after just a quick walk outside. Your dog benefits in the same way. And what a great way to bond with your best friend. Remember exercise needs to be regular. “Weekend Warrior” type exercising can create sudden issues in regulating blood sugar levels.
Monitoring – I call this step “Empowering Yourself”! Know the signs of low blood sugar: no appetite, lethargic, nausea, vomiting, and low energy. Review your food/activity log to see what could have changed. This can occur if too much insulin has been administered or a sudden increase in exercise/activity. Be prepared, especially if your dog has no interest in eating. If the dog continues to decline, waste no time getting him to the veterinarian. Time is critical.
Illness - An additional concern is during the onset of an illness. This can create a new challenge for the diabetic dog. During a bacterial infection, the body will produce and release stress hormones. These hormones can trigger a release of stored glucose from the liver. On these days the body will need significantly more insulin. In the case of a gastro-type bug, the body is less likely to produce stress hormones. This type of illness will cause blood glucose levels to likely be low due to your dog not eating or not absorbing the food that is being eaten – the food is going straight through them. It is vital at times of illness to monitor blood glucose levels regularly. Be aware of these changes and contact your veterinarian for individual guidance.
I hope you have found this article useful. Following these 5 Simple Steps can lead to a more enjoyable relationship with your best friend. Remember they depend on us totally for their care. Their loyalty is unconditional.
By Marie B.
Research & Development