Tips for Owners of Diabetic Dogs
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Once upon a time, having a veterinarian pronounce the word ''diabetes'' upon running diagnostic tests was synonym with years of suffering and ultimately putting a dog to sleep. Nowadays, instead thanks to the modern advances of veterinary medicine, diabetes in dogs can be very well managed and dogs may still be able to lead quite normal lives.
If therefore, your dog was diagnosed just recently with diabetes, relax, as your dog is in good company. Each year hundreds of dogs are diagnosed, mostly dogs in their senior years and a bit on the chunky side. These dogs were taken to the vet after exhibiting unusual symptoms characteristic of diabetes such as increased drinking (polidypdia), increased urination (polyuria), weight loss despite having a good appetite, a coat that lost its luster and an over all condition that veterinarians like to refer to as ''ADR'' standing for ''Ain't DoingRight''.
As a new diabetic dog owners you may want to assilmilate as much as you can about the disease. Ask questions to your vet, learn how to administer insulin injections, find out as much as you can about the nutritional requirements of diabetic dogs, look for diabetic friendly treats and learn to watch for signs siggesting an insulin overdose. Following are some helpful tips for living with your diabetic dog.
Tips for Living with Your Diabetic Dog
-Learn Normal Values
Diabetic dogs are dogs who have abnormal blood glucose values. Normal glucose levels in dogs are generally in between 80 and 150. In order to bring back a diabetic dog's levels to normal, your veterinarian will prescribe insulin injections. Owners today can test their dog's blood glucose levels from the comfort of their home with proper testing kits similar to those for humans. However, the best way to see how well your dog's diabetes is managed is to have your dog routinely undergo a blood glucose curve.
-Schedule Blood Glucose Curves as Recommended
Follow your vet's advice on scheduling Blood Glucose Curves. These tests require your dog to be hospitalized for 24 hours during which your vet will take blood samples every 2-4 hours. This is the best way to assess how well your dog is doing on insulin. The tests are generally done in house allowing your vet to immediately see the results. With test results in hand, your vet will be able to prescribe theappropriate type of insulin, the best dosage and frequency.
-Ask about Diet
Ask your vet to recommend a good diet for your dog. Diabetic dogs benefit from high fiber diets often prescribed for obese dogs. Commonly prescribed foods are Hill's W/D, Hills' R/D, Purina OM and Fit and Trim Dry. Ask your veterinarian for the ideal diet for your diabetic dog. Ideally, diabetic dogs should be fed 2-3 times per day at the same time, following by the insulin shot, versus feeding once all in one setting. Consult with your vet.
-Watch for Overdoses
An overdose of insulin (due to using wrong syringe or upon changing type of insulin) may cause severe symptoms of hypoglycemia. In this case, too much insulin will cause a quick blood sugar drop that can be life threatening. Affected dogs will appear suddenly confused, they may shiver, stagger, fall into a coma, collapse or have seizures. Owners of diabetic dogs should always keep some corn syrup or Karo syrup at home to rub on the dog's gums (only if conscious) to raise back blood sugar while promptly contacting their vet for follow up instructions.
-Keep an Eye on Eyes
Diabetic dogs are prone to developing cataracts. Cataracts develop when there are abnormal accumulation of sugar in the dog's lens. The dog's eyes may appear to have clusters of what may resemble crushed ice. There is no treatment for cataracts once they have set in other than surgical removal of the lens or a surgical procedure known as phacoemulsification.
This condition is not very common but it is a good idea to be aware of it because it is potentially fatal. This phenomenon occurs when extra shots of insulin are given or dosages are increased causing the pet's blood glucose to go uncontrollably high. It is often seen in dogs treated at home using urine dipsticks. This link provides information on this condition.
-Be Aware of KetoAcidosis
If your dog's breath suddenly smells fruity or like acetone have your dog seen by a vet immediately. These are often tell sign that your dog has extremely high levels of glucose that need regulated ASAP. Other symptoms of ketoacidosis are increased drinking, increased urination, lethargy, vomiting, weakness,sudden blindness and dehydration. Affected dogs need to be hospitalized.
Diabetic dogs benefit from regular exercise. However, ideally, your dog should just keep exercising as he always did. Keep in mind that too much exercise may lower the dog's glucose too much. Ask your vet for recommendations.
As seen, there is a lot to know about diabetes, however, knowledge is power and the more you know about diabetes the better you will be able to take care of your furry friend.
Disclaimer; the above article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a diagnostic tool nor as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog was diagnosed with diabetes consult your vet for advice.