Canine diabetes may not be curable, but it is manageable in most dogs – if the condition is diagnosed early and treated properly. Only a veterinarian can diagnose this condition in dogs, but treatment will largely fall on the lap of the dog’s owners and it is no small thing. Treating any medical condition is a daily responsibility to be carried out consistently for the rest of the dog’s life. However, knowing the knowing the three components of at-home care for a diabetic dog – food, medication, and exercise – you can create a schedule that is balanced, not overwhelming.
Diabetic Dog Food
Diet is a critical component of treatment of canine diabetes. The foundations of this diet are lower carbohydrates and higher fiber. Carbohydrates are considered a form of sugar because the body converts it into glucose. When blood sugar plummets too low, it results in hypoglycemia, which is a serious condition. A diet with low carbohydrate/glucose reduces the amount of insulin needed, keeping blood sugar low.
High-quality fats and proteins are also turned into blood glucose much more slowly and evenly than carbohydrates, reducing blood-sugar highs right after mealtimes.
You might be amazed about the amounts of carbohydrates and sugar contained in commercial dog food with dry food being the biggest culprit. You can either buy diabetic dog food or make homemade food for your dog. Remember these when points developing your dog’s diet.
- Natural food is best. You would know much better how much carbohydrates and sugar your dog is getting. A homemade diet of natural foods isn’t as expensive or as much work as you might think.
- Or use high quality dog food. If you cannot avoid commercially manufactured dog food altogether, it is better to give your dog quality canned food that is low in carbohydrates and low in sodium. Diabetic dog food is better. Organic dog food is usually good too.
- Avoid most dry dog foods. These are largely made up of simple carbohydrates (sugars and/or starches), something you really want to decrease if you dog is diagnosed with diabetes. Some are OK when the ingredients are high in protein and vegetables. No matter what dry dog food you use, it should never be the sole form of food–there is just not enough nutrition in it.
Medication for Your Diabetic Dog
If your veterinarian has prescribed medication for your diabetic dog, she must receive twice-daily, precisely prescribed subcutaneous shots of insulin–one in the morning, another in the evening. Administering these injections without fail will be the job of its owners.
Exercise and the Diabetic
A diabetic dog must be exercised according to a rigorously maintained schedule. This helps keeps your dog’s insulin levels stable. And by exercise, I do not mean running your dog five miles one day, then letting him lie on a couch for the rest of the week. His exercise, at whatever level, must be consistent. And for you and him to stay consistent it is usually better to opt for short stints (even 10 minutes) every day, then ambitious sessions (30 minutes Frisbee practice or 2-mile jogs) that you can only manage to maintain a few days a week. See more in the article Exercise for Dogs with Diabetes.
While measuring insulin levels will be done periodically by a veterinarian, only a dog’s owner can manage an animal’s daily workout program that levels out these levels.