Dogs With Diabetes
My stepmother wasn’t feeling well a couple of weeks ago and she asked me to pick her dog up from the vet. Pig had been a little lethargic and was drinking a lot of water. My Step-mom thought Pig might have picked up something from the boarding kennel when she and Dad were in Mexico last month. The vet told me nope, the dog has diabetes and started rattling off instructions and a follow-up appointment. When I got Pig home, I don’t think my stepmother really believed a dog could be diabetic and called the vet. I wanted to say – but didn’t – well, step-mom with a name like Pig….
Even veterinarians are also seeing more pets with diabetes. And one of the major causes is obesity. Diabetes in pets is often controlled with a specific diet and medication including insulin. Careful portion control and timing of food intake is important. But exercise is crucial for a three reasons:
- weight loss – Eating healthy and moving more is the basic formula for losing weight. Weight loss helps lower elevated blood glucose levels.
- weight control – Weight control with diabetes is an essential part of successful treatment. Naturally, any weight gain can make diabetes worse. Managing a good weight helps keeps all the body’s systems, including blood sugar levels, in balance.
- better blood circulation – exercise generally causes the blood glucose to decrease as muscles pull energy from blood glucose. So, as the dog exercises, the blood glucose decreases. Exercise also helps your dog to absorb insulin better which also causes the blood glucose to drop. In fact, exercise can increase the rate at which insulin is absorbed.
Exercise Tips for Dogs with Diabetes
These are general tips, but please, always talk to your dog’s vet for the best course of action for your pet.
Pick an exercise your dog will find fun, but is low-key. The activity should be reasonable for your dog’s temperament, age, and health. Walking is always a safe bet, but hiking, swimming, and other low-key activities are fine and provide variety. A low-key activity is something you dog can do without panting.
But don’t go overboard with weight loss – a little bit of activity goes a surprisingly long way. If your dog has been inactive, you definitely need to start small, 10 to 15 minutes at a time. It is better to do a little bit most days than to cram 30 minutes of workout in a couple of days.
It is important to keep their activity level the same from day to day. Try to exercise at the time of day for the same length of time. It helps you both get into the habit, but it also gives her body time to adjust to the changes. In fact, if your dog’s activity changes drastically one day from the previous, her blood glucose levels can surge and really endanger your dog’s health.
Always, take a little sweetener like Karo syrup with you when you walk or exercise. If your dog over-exercises and her blood sugar drops, you will see strange behavior, anything from dizziness to fatigue to convulsions. If so, give your dog a little sugar, and you should see a difference right away. Read this post for more info on taking care of your dog with diabetes.
Remember, make changes one at a time. Go slow, go gradually. But do go! And watch your dog’s diet.