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Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment

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How Is Diabetes Treated?

Diabetes treatment is based on how severe the symptoms and lab work are and whether there are any other health issues that could complicate therapy. Each dog will respond a little bit differently to treatment, and therapy must be tailored to the individual dog throughout his life.

  • Some dogs may be seriously ill when first diagnosed and will require intensive hospital care for several days to regulate their blood sugar.
  • Dogs who are more stable when first diagnosed may respond to oral medication or a high-fiber diet that helps to normalize glucose levels in the blood.
  • For most dogs, insulin injections are necessary for adequate regulation of blood glucose. Once your pet’s individual insulin treatment is established, typically based on weight, you’ll be shown how to give him insulin injections at home.
  • Spaying your dog is recommended, as female sex hormones can have an effect on blood sugar levels.

Your vet may also show you how to perform glucose tests at home.

 

What Should I Know About Treating My Diabetic Dog at Home?

As your veterinarian will explain, it’s important to always give your dog insulin at the same time every day and feed him regular meals in conjunction with his medication. This allows increased nutrients in the blood to coincide with peak insulin levels, and will lessen the chance that his sugar levels will swing either too high or too low. You can work with your vet to create a feeding schedule around your pet’s medication time. It is also important to avoid feeding your diabetic dog treats that are high in glucose. Regular blood glucose checks are a critical part of monitoring and treating any diabetic patient, and your veterinarian will help you set up a schedule for checking your dog’s blood sugar.

Please also consult your vet about a consistent, daily exercise program and proper nutrition for your dog to help keep his weight in check.

How Can Diabetes Be Prevented?

Although a certain form of diabetes-the type found in dogs less than a year of age-is inherited, proper diet and regular exercise can be very effective in helping to prevent onset of diabetes in older dogs. Aside from other negative health effects, obesity is known to contribute to an ability to respond normally to insulin.

What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Diabetes?

If your dog is showing any of the clinical signs listed above, please see your veterinarian right away.

What Can Happen If Diabetes Goes Untreated?

If diabetes progresses without being treated, dogs can develop secondary health problems like cataracts and severe urinary tract problems. Ultimately, untreated diabetes can cause coma and death.

 

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist

The ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist specializes in the resolution and management of pet behavior problems only. Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk. If you are concerned about the cost of veterinary care, please read our resources on finding financial help.
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