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8 Expert Tips on How to Care for A Diabetic Dog

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Caring for A Diabetic Dog

Last week I shared some great resources with helpful information on super foods for dogs. Feeding your dog top quality nutrition is the best way to enhance her overall health and well-being, but sometimes your pet is diagnosed with a disease, like diabetes, that will effect her health negatively and there is nothing you can do to change it. Caring for a dog with diabetes won't be easy – but it will be worth it!

The initial fear and shock that you will feel if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes will be overwhelming. Your vet will give you a lot of information, and much like diabetes in humans, if not treated properly canine diabetes can lead to much more serious health problems.

Try to remember that diabetes is a treatable condition and your dog will still be able to live a normal, healthy and happy life as long as you know how to take care of her.

Listen to your veterinarian, do your own research and speak with a specialist if you can. All these resources will help you to understand the disease and what your new role will be as a caregiver for a dog with diabetes. There are a lot of great online resources with advice from other pet parents struggling with the same issue as well.

RELATED: Dog Food for Dogs with Diabetes

8 Expert Tips on How to Care for A Diabetic Dog

Caring for a Diabetic Dog and Tips on Canine Diabetes

The first step in caring for a diabetic dog is understanding the disease that she has. Canine diabetes is also known as diabetes mellitus. If you're doing your own research you may find more reliable sources of information if you search for the scientific name. Similar to human diabetes, it occurs when your pet's pancreas does not produce enough insulin.

1. College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State

Most commonly, diabetes is an adult onset disease, but it is occasionally diagnosed in younger dogs as well. According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, the disease is more common in female dogs than male. They explain more about diabetes mellitus in this article on their website.

  • Certain conditions predispose a dog or cat to developing diabetes. Animals that are overweight or those with inflammation of the pancreas are predisposed to developing diabetes. Some drugs can interfere with insulin, leading to diabetes.

2. CanineDiabetes.org

I absolutely love this blog from caninediabetes.org it is written to help pet parents who are new to finding out their dog has diabetes. It answers many of the overwhelming questions that you may have after hearing the diagnosis. This a very brief overview of what you can expect, but it may help ease your mind until you have the time to perform more in-depth research.

The writer walks you through what to expect the first day, the expenses that you may incur, the emotions that you are likely to feel and many other aspects of what you'll be going through while caring for a dog with diabetes. It's well written and very easy to read. This is a great resource to start with if you're feeling overwhelmed with your dog's diagnosis.

  • Every day you will have to give your pet medication, feed a proper diet, and watch his behavior. But don’t get the impression that you are now a prisoner….you aren’t… but you will have to pay much closer attention to your pet’s needs and behavior, and you will have to make arrangements for someone to care for your pet if you leave for a day or more.

3. American Animal Hospital Association

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) also offers some great advice for dog owners on their website. This article, entitled “AAHA Diabetes Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats”, was published in 2010 but the information is still very relevant when caring for a diabetic dog.

It's a bit hard to read, as it is full of veterinary jargon, but if you can get through that you'll gain a lot of useful information. The article describes the process of diagnosing canine diabetes, the treatments that are available and the ongoing management that you'll need to continue.

  • Dogs and cats that are in the early stage of developing DM are classified as subclinical diabetics. Subclinical diabetics often appear healthy, have a stable weight, and are usually identified when routine laboratory work is performed for other reasons. A diagnosis of subclinical diabetes should only be made after stress hyperglycemia has been ruled out and hyperglycemia persists despite identification and correction of insulin-resistant disorders.

Nutrition is a critical part of managing your dog's diabetes. Your vet will work with you to decide the proper diet for your specific pet. They may even recommend that you see a canine nutritionist for more information. I would suggest speaking with a specialist whether your vet recommends it or not – the more information you can gain, the better off your dog will be.

4. Andrea J. Fascetti and Sean J. Delaney

The William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis has published a great article on their site about nutritional management of canine diabetes. The article was written by Andrea J. Fascetti and Sean J. Delaney, and provides information on the dangers of obesity for diabetic pets, prescription diets, pancreatitis and more.

  • In both dogs and cats with diabetes mellitus, the presence of obesity can make it more difficult to control blood sugar concentrations within a healthy range, predisposing them to additional complications. For these reasons, diabetic dogs and cats that are overweight should be started on a weight loss program once their diabetes is stabilized.

Insulin shots are the most stressful part of managing canine diabetes for most pet parents. It can be intimidating and scary, but rest assured that your vet will go over the entire process with you to make sure that you are capable of injecting your dog before they'll send you home.

5. HealthyPawsFoundation.org

The greatest advice that I found on canine insulin injections came from this blog on healthypawsfoundation.org. You'll become more comfortable with the process as you do it more, but for now just remember that it is quick and relatively painless for your pet.

  • One of the most difficult changes for pet parents of a diabetic dog can be the daily insulin injections. It may seem intimidating at first, but the “ordeal” is actually quick and relatively painless if done properly. Your veterinarian will go over the insulin injection process with you, demonstrating how to measure out the correct dosage and where to administer the shot.

6. My Dog Has Diabetes

If you want help understanding what it's like caring for a diabetic dog, check out this blog. Buzz, the Diabetic Dog is an excellent resource. Buzz's mother writes the blog and she discusses all the ups and downs that the family faces due to Buzz's diabetes. It gives a much more realistic idea of what you'll be facing.

You'll see a lot of information about the medical requirements, feeding requirements and additional health risks to be aware of in dogs with diabetes. However, you won't come across many resources that will discuss the daily ups and downs that your family will be faced with. This blog fills that niche.

  • The hubby and I went on vacation with some friends over Labor Day weekend and left Buzz and Bella with my parents. My parents live 6 hours away from us so it's a haul to get there, but kenneling them isn't an option (I have yet to find a kennel that will give insulin injections) and staying at the vet is too expensive for a short trip – so we drove the 6 hours for my parents to look after the pups.

The blog section of dogabetix.com is another excellent resource. It's a more professional blog, but serves the same purpose. It has information to answer many common questions that you may have, such as “Can my diabetic dog eat food containing flour?” or “How should I dispose of old needles?”

7. Dogabetix

These blogs also has useful tips that you may be interested in. They have advice on summer safety tips for diabetic dogs and whether or not you should perform at home glucose tests on your pet. You'll find a lot of great stuff here!

  • If you're injecting your dog with insulin twice a day, chances are you have used needles piling up in your house. Since needles are only supposed to be used once (or twice in an emergency), you could potentially have 60 needles to dispose of each month!

8. Diabetic Dog Blog

The last gem I'll leave you with this week is the Diabetic Dog Blog. This is a great resource for pet parents who are new to dealing with canine diabetes, and it's also great for dog owners that have been caring for a diabetic dog for many years.

You'll find information on the differences between Type I and Type II diabetes in dogs and what to do if your pup won't let you give him his insulin shot. They don't update this bog it often, but the material that is posted is very beneficial.

  • Some commenters have said that their dogs are any where from fussy to aggressive. They would like to know what can be done to get their dogs to be good about getting their insulin shot?

If you've got any tips and tricks you'd like to share about caring for a diabetic dog, we would love to hear them. Comment below or share your information on our Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages. Feel free to add any helpful additional resources to this list as well by leaving the links in the comments below.

PODCAST: Dealing With Canine Diabetes ft. Rachel Poulin, RVT