Diabetes in dogs is a growing concern among pet owners. Since 2006, canine diabetes has increased 79.7%. High blood sugar in dogs can impact the way your dog’s body functions and lead to other major health problems, such as strokes or heart disease in dogs. Having a diabetic dog is a big change for any pet owner to adjust to, here’s everything you need to know to care for a dog with diabetes.
Caring for Your Dog with Diabetes
Diabetes in dogs can occur at any age. Most dogs are diagnosed with diabetes between the ages of 7-10 years old. Diabetic cats are usually over the age of 6 when diagnosed. You can lower a dog’s risk of diabetes though a healthy diet, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. However, certain dog breeds are genetically predisposed to the condition and are in a higher risk category. Female dogs are also at a higher risk of becoming diabetic. Female dogs are twice as likely to develop diabetes over male dogs.
To properly treat your dog’s diabetes, you must understand the diabetes type they’re dealing with. Just like in humans there are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Although there are similarities to human diabetes, they are different.
Type 1 Diabetes:
This is the most common form of diabetes in dogs. Also known as insulin-deficiency diabetes, Type 1 occurs when the cells in the pancreas that create insulin are destroyed.
Type 2 Diabetes:
Also known as insulin-resistance diabetes, Type 2 develops when a dog’s hormones prevent insulin from performing correctly. These hormones typically develop within excess body fat, meaning an overweight dog has a higher risk of becoming diabetic.
Monitoring Your Dog’s Glucose Levels
Keeping an eye on your dog’s glucose level is key to managing their diabetes. At the beginning of your dog’s diagnosis you may need to check their blood levels multiple times a day. Record your findings, this will help you to track and report on your dog’s process to your veterinarian. Stay consistent with your testing times and monitor your dog closely.
The most accurate way to try your dog’s sugar levels is through daily blood tests. Regularly testing your dog’s blood is the most accurate way to track their glucose levels. Glucose testing can easily be done at home by using a glucometer and test strips. A dog whose blood glucose is stabilized should have a blog glucose range between 100-250 mg/dL in a 24 hour period.
Testing your dog’s urine is less accurate but will allow you to check their glucose as well as ketones.
Starting Insulin Therapy
Daily insulin therapy is daunting for almost all pet parents. Ask your vet for help, they will walk you through how to give the shot. Insulin can not be given orally and must be administered with a shot. Your vet will teach you how to give an insulin shot and walk you through the care your pet will need.
Insulin injections are vital and necessary for managing your dog’s diabetes. Once diagnosed, insulin injections should be made twice a day. How much insulin your dog needs will vary based on their glucose level. Your veterinarian will help you to determine what your dog needs. This process can be time consuming, and may require you to check your dog’s blood levels several times over the first few weeks of diagnosis. Be patient and stay consistent. Both your glucose monitoring and insulin injections need to be done consistently around the same time of day for accurate reporting.
In addition to regular insulin shots, your diabetic dog will need to eat healthy, stay active with regular exercise and stay as stress free as possible.
Even with proper treatment, diabetic dogs are at a higher risk of developing other health conditions. Most dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts within their first year of diagnosis. When left untreated, diabetic cataracts will lead to blindness and vision loss. Regular vet visits are vital to a dog’s treatment plan and are key to early detection of cataracts.
Dogs with diabetes may also experiences sever urinary tract problems, low blood potassium, or high blood pressure. If left untreated, diabetes can cause coma and even death.
Mobility loss can occur in diabetic dogs, primarily impacting the back legs. Diabetic Neuropathy in dogs can cause a dog’s hind legs to weaken and become shaky. In severe cases, neuropathy may make it difficult for a dog to walk and become paralyzed. If your diabetic dog can’t walk without assistance or is struggling to walk, they need to see their veterinarian.
With your help and proper care, dogs with diabetes can live a relatively normal life. Dogs and cats with diabetes usually require lifelong care. With proper management and regular treatment your pet can live a long, happy life.
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