How To Properly Treat Your Diabetic Dog (Insulin Injection, Diet, and Exercise Tips)
If your dog just got diagnosed with diabetes, and you don’t know what to do next, do not worry, we’ve got you covered. First of all, we are sorry about your dog’s diagnosis.
However, even with diabetes, dogs can live happy and long life.
The key to a happy and long life for diabetic dogs is proper treatment and management.
How To Properly Treat Your Diabetic Dog
Once your pup has been diagnosed with diabetes, you will need to learn how to properly treat your diabetic dog. Unfortunately, diabetes cannot be cured but with the right management program, it can be kept under control.
Diabetic dogs struggle to regulate their blood sugar levels. Thus, the primary goal of treatment is to bring their sugars back within normal range and maintain them there. We accomplish this through insulin injections, controlling their diet, and managing exercise levels.
Insulin Injections For Diabetic Dogs
IMPORTANT: Insulin injections have to be injected 12 hours apart, twice a day at mealtime, every day at the same time.
The best to properly treat your diabetic dog is to make sure they get its insulin on time.
Insulin is naturally produced by your dog’s body to regulate blood sugar after eating. Diabetic dogs, however, cannot produce insulin themselves and thus must receive injections twice daily at mealtimes for life.
For best results, administer these injections at set intervals of 12 hours apart at established times each day (e.g. 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.). Alternatively, you could opt for 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. or whatever suits you).
The key here is that these shots take place within 12 hours and must occur regularly throughout your pet’s lifespan
Your vet or nurse can demonstrate how to administer insulin injections for your dog and advise you on the amount needed. Injected needles should be placed just beneath your pup’s skin, usually at the back of its neck.
Here is a complete guide on how to properly give your dog insulin injections.
Controlling Your Diabetic’s Dog Diet
After your dog has eaten, their blood sugar will rise.
To make sure that this rise is controlled, diabetic dogs need to be fed:
- Set amount
- set food
- Same time
- Every day
This ensures we know exactly when their blood sugar will reach a dangerously high level after feeding them, and can administer just the right amount of insulin to bring it down safely.
If your pup eats more than usual, their blood sugar may spike too high; on the contrary, if they eat less than usual, their glucose levels could plummet after receiving an insulin injection.
Therefore, it’s wise to weigh out your dog’s food so you know exactly how much you are giving them at each meal.
Never reward your dog with food or treats between meals as this extra sugar can be dangerous for diabetic dogs. Instead, use lots of love and affection as rewards.
Your dog must receive their meals at the same time as their insulin injections (every 12 hours).
It may take some time for both of you to adjust, but with patience and the right guidance, both of you will adjust nicely to the new schedule.
You can feed your diabetic dog either before or after their insulin injection, and if they don’t mind, you could inject them while they’re eating.
Any of these options is fine, provided it’s a routine you and your pup can happily follow together.
(Related: How To Monitor Your Dog’s Blood Sugar [The Proper Way])
Contrary to popular belief, exercise actually lowers blood sugar in dogs! Therefore, in order to ensure we maintain control over how much their blood sugar drops, it’s essential that we keep walks the same each day.
By monitoring their exercise intake in relation to how much food we’re feeding them and the amount of insulin administered, we can be certain their blood sugar will stay stable throughout the day.
If, for instance, you were to give your dog an extended walk on the weekend, their blood sugar could dip dangerously low.
If you want to gradually increase or reduce the amount of exercise your dog gets, that’s perfectly acceptable.
Just make sure they get their exercise in gradually and be on the lookout for any signs that their diabetes may be changing.
(Related: What Is Diabetes In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Treatment)
What If You Get Something Wrong
Caring for a diabetic dog can be quite stressful at first. So let’s explore what could go wrong during this journey.
You could accidentally inject too much or not enough insulin. Some injections may squirt out during injection, or your pup might not finish all their food one day and steal some from you the next.
Sometimes, they may vomit their meal after having consumed it.
What should you do in these scenarios?
If you’re feeling anxious, the best course of action is always to reach out to your veterinarian. Stay calm and give them a call to explain what has happened.
Maintaining a diabetic dog requires teamwork, and your vet practice is always available to lend a helping hand and offer advice.
What To Do If Your Diabetic Dog Has Low Blood Sugar
It is critical to watch for low blood sugar in diabetic dogs. This could quickly result in a diabetic coma and be fatal.
Hypoglycemia or hypo are two terms used to describe low blood sugar in dogs.
Low sugar levels occur if your pup’s body has been overwhelmed with too much insulin, excessive exercise, or inadequate food consumption.
Insulin is most effective six to eight hours after it’s been injected so this is when your dog is most at risk of showing symptoms of low blood sugar.
If your dog is suffering from low blood sugar, they may appear:
- Unsteady on their feet
If you believe your dog has low blood sugar, the best course of action is to rub something highly sweet like honey or maple syrup into their gums and take them immediately to the vet.
Carrying a small packet of something high in sugar with you when traveling with your diabetic dog is a wise idea.
What If You Miss an Insulin Injection?
Never give your diabetic dog an additional insulin injection during the day or on their next scheduled injection if you forget to give them one on time.
Low blood sugar can have serious consequences.
Instead, wait until their next dose of insulin is due and administer the regular dosage.
Although having slightly high blood sugar for 12 hours won’t harm your pup, going too low could prove fatal.
If you’re uncertain at any point, contact your veterinarian for guidance.
Treatment for diabetic dogs involves maintaining a strict schedule. Be strict with how often they exercise and ensure that they receive their insulin injections at the appropriate time each day.
No doubt, this is a huge responsibility. But, if you can manage it well enough, chances are your pup will live an incredibly contented life.