Diabetes mellitus is an endocrine disorder that prevents the pancreas from producing sufficient amounts of insulin. Without insulin, the cells of the body cannot absorb glucose, a major fuel source, and the body goes into a kind of starvation mode.
Though there is no cure for diabetes, the disease can be treated. Management of diabetes generally involves insulin injections and blood glucose monitoring. To properly manage a diabetic dog, there is a certain amount of dedication and commitment required on the owner's part. It also requires effective communication and a positive working relationship with your vet. Caring for a diabetic may take a bit more time and effort, but once you get the hang of it, you will find it is not that difficult.
Monitoring the Diabetic Dog:
An alternative way to check your dog's glucose levels (and monitor for ketones) is to catch urine samples and use urine test strips called Keto-diastix (compare prices). If glucose measures +3 and/or ketones are present for more than three days, you should see your vet.
Diabetic Dietary Needs:
Insulin for Canine Diabetes Mellitus:
Insulin is administered by injection, typically every 12 hours and after a meal. Many pet owners are unable to imagine giving shots to their pets, but it is actually not as terrible as it may seem. Insulin needles are very small, and most pets do not even feel the injection. Before starting insulin therapy at home, you should be given a hands-on demonstration (usually by an experienced veterinary technician). He or she will show you how to handle the insulin, how to draw it up in the syringe and how to inject it. Here are a few key points to remember:
- Insulin should be kept refrigerated at all times. It will be good for approximately 6 to 8 weeks. After that, it should be replaced (even if there is insulin left).
- Because it may separate in the bottle, insulin should be gently mixed before drawing it up. Gently roll the vial between your hands or rock it from side to side. Never shake the vial.
- Always be certain that you are using the proper syringes. Insulin comes in two concentrations: U-100 and U-40. Make sure the vial and syringes match.
- To inject insulin, make a "tent" with your pet's loose skin between the shoulder blades. Angle the needle slightly downward to prevent it from coming out from the other side of the skin.
- Do not give your pet insulin if he is not eating unless directed to do so by your vet. Your dog could receive an insulin overdose and develop hypoglycemia, which can lead to seizures, coma, brain damage or even death.
- NEVER alter your dog's insulin dose without consulting with your vet. Always follow your vet's instructions.