Managing the Diabetic Dog
Your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes can be successfully managed in many dogs, but it requires a great deal of dedication by the owner(s). You will need to be a careful observer of your dog’s appetite, drinking, urination, appearance and general behavior, be able to give insulin injections twice daily and bring your dog in to us for periodic evaluation.
Your dog may have other health problems, related or unrelated to diabetes, which will need to be addressed. Depending on the severity, hospitalization may be required. If this is the case, we will likely start your dog’s insulin injections in the hospital.
Initially, we will need to “regulate” your dog. This means finding the amount of insulin that will bring glucose levels within an acceptable and safe range on a daily basis.
Once you are ready to work with your dog at home, we will provide you with your initial supplies and teach you to give insulin injections at home. You can expect to bring your dog in every 2-3 days for glucose checks. The day of the check we will draw 2 small blood samples, the first between 8-9 AM and the second between 4:30-5:30 PM. At that time the doctor will advise you as to whether to continue giving the same amount of insulin or to increase. After your dog is regulated at a good level, you will need to bring him/her in periodically for a “serum fructosamine level”. This will give us an “average” of what your dog’s glucose level has been during the previous 2-3 weeks. Based on the results of this test, the doctor may keep the units of insulin the same or may have you increase or decrease. At each recheck we will let you know when the next recheck is due.
Specifics on Insulin:
1. Injections will usually need to be given twice daily, as close to a 12-hour interval as possible.
2. Use a new needle/syringe each time. These are special 0.3cc ultra-fine insulin syringes with a short needle; they can be obtained in boxes of 100 from a pharmacy.
3. Insulin is measured in “units”. You will be using 30 unit syringes. Generally, most dogs will end up regulating between 2-9 units twice daily, so you will be measuring a very small amount into these syringes.
4. You must purchase a new bottle of insulin monthly from your pharmacy.
5. Keep insulin refrigerated. If it is accidentally left out for a day, it will be OK as long as it has not been sitting in a hot area.
6. Remember to mix insulin every time by gently inverting and rolling between your palms or invert gently several times immediately prior to drawing up in a syringe. Give immediately.
Important Points to Remember:
Keep a bottle of Karo syrup and a syringe on hand. If you ever notice your dog very weak or staggering, it is possible that his/her glucose level is too low. You can give 1-2cc of Karo syrup by mouth, or even rub it on the gums. This would be equivalent to a diabetic person keeping hard candy with them. Call us if this happens.
It is very critical that your dog eats the recommended diet on the recommended schedule. The insulin that you have given is working to metabolize any glucose present in the bloodstream. If your dog has not been eating, or vomits, the glucose level may go too low. Your dog must have regular food intake. It is a good idea to keep a couple of cans of a/d diet and feeding syringes at home. If your dog has not eaten fairly well that day, you can syringe feed one to two cans of a/d as a substitute.
There are times you should not give insulin. If your dog becomes lethargic and does not want to eat on his/her own, this is a cause for concern. Call us; we will advise you on what to do. If it is at night and your dog is lethargic, not eating and vomiting, call the emergency clinic. Do not give insulin that night. If your dog is obviously not feeling well and his appetite is poor but there is no vomiting, try syringe feeding one to two cans of a/d. Give ½ the insulin dose. Call us first thing in the morning and expect to bring your dog in that day. If you’re just not sure, feel free to call the emergency clinic.
Monitor your dog’s water intake. Diabetic dogs drink an excessive amount of water and urinate large amounts. As his/her glucose level begins to come down, you may notice a decrease in drinking and urinating.
Monitor your dog’s physical appearance. If there appears to be weight loss, or an unkempt (scruffy) coat, then an exam is needed.
There is a lot to remember! However, do not get discouraged. After a short time you will get comfortable giving injections (the needle is tiny!), you will get used to the routine and learn to become more observant of your dog. We will remind you of your scheduled appointments. And remember, if you have questions we are just a phone call away.