Saturday, February 14, 2015

Treating Canine Diabetes

Feeding a proper diet and monitoring blood glucose levels are vital to keeping your diabetic dog healthy. In most cases, your vet will recommend you feed your dog a prescription diet and instruct you to give insulin injections.

Diabetic Dog Foods

Prescription foods are made specially for diabetic dogs and are high in fiber. With soluble fiber, the digestive system absorbs glucose slower and prevents a spike in glucose levels. 

Two common food brands that vets carry include Hills w/d Glucose Management diet and Royal Canin's Diabetic formula. Both brands come in canned and dry foods.

I fed Dudley Hills w/d for three years and he barely got a reading below 200mg/dL. However, I did notice more of a blood glucose reduction when my vet stopped carrying it and switched to Royal Canin. After eating the new food, his lowest blood glucose reading with 11 units of insulin twice a day was in the range of 180mg/dL to 190mg/dL. Compared to a level of 600mg/dL when he was first diagnosed, that is a decent reading.

Mandy, my grandma's 10 year old diabetic pit bull, also saw an improvement after eating Royal Canin. In October, she was diagnosed with diabetes and had a glucose level of 400mg/dL. With 27 units of insulin twice a day, she now maintains a level between 160mg/dL to 180mg/dL.

Here is what the bag looks like. You can only purchase it at your vet or online with a prescription.

Proper Portion Sizes

Without portion control, your dog won't be able to maintain a healthy weight. If their weight is not closely managed, glucose levels will continue to rise. My vet gave me the measuring cup pictured below to make sure we didn't overfeed Dudley or Mandy.
Make sure you are measuring the food out in a standard cup. Food should not be heaping over the sides.
The recommended number of cups to feed your dog is listed on the back of the food bag. 


Along with proper diet, the amount of insulin you give your dog is extremely important too.Dogs take human insulin and the vet will prescribe you with the brand that accommodates your dog's needs. The vet will also instruct you on the number of shots and how many units to give each day. Frequent visits to the vet  are needed to make sure your dog is getting the right amount. It is very common for dosages to increase and decrease throughout the rest of your dog's life.

It is strongly recommended by vets that you monitor and test your dog's glucose levels at home. You can buy any human glucose meter at a drug store to do this. You will also need to buy lancets and test strips. Lancets are a piece of surgical steel that you use to draw blood. A dog's skin is much thicker than a human's skin therefore you have to buy lower gauge lancets to puncture their skin. I recommend 21-gauge or 23-gauge lancets. Most meters come with a few test strips and lancets to get you started.

The best time to check their levels is about four to five hours after you have administered the insulin. This should be your dogs lowest reading and most ideal range. As you get farther away from the time you gave your dog the insulin, their levels will start to rise and cause higher readings.

Here are step by step instructions on how to give your dog insulin:

Drawing insulin from the vile is very easy.  Insert the hypodermic needle into the vile and pull the plunger back till the syringe fills up with the number of insulin units your dog takes.

If air bubbles are visible in the syringe, gently flick it with your finger. 

While your dog is eating, lift up a portion of the dog's skin, insert the needle and push the plunger. Insulin must be given when your dog is eating or directly after their done.

Keeping your diabetic dog healthy is a learning process. Don't feel discouraged if you struggle with maintaining a healthy glucose level at first or can't get a glucose reading at home. Just make sure you watch your dog's behavior and call your vet if anything seems abnormal. All your hard work will pay off when you are able to regulate their levels and can extend your dog's life a couple more years.

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