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Diabetes in Dogs

By: Dr. Leah Cohn

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DM requires dedicated follow-up care on the part of the pet owner. With a commitment of time, education and careful observation, most diabetic dogs can have a good, quality life.

  • Monitor blood glucose concentrations with your regular veterinarian. Weekly monitoring may be needed until adequate control is attained. Serum fructosamine measurements are recommended every 3 to 6 months after diabetic control is attained.

  • Routine. You will need to stick with a routine in both insulin administration and feeding. While insulin does not have to be given at precisely the same time everyday, it is very helpful to stick with the same schedule as closely as possible both for drug administration and feeding.

  • Insulin. Familiarize yourself with the type and source of insulin your dog uses. Purchasing insulin can be confusing.

    Familiarize yourself with insulin handling. This bottled hormone is not perfectly soluble or stable. It needs to be kept cool and out of direct light, and it must be gently mixed thoroughly before use, but not shaken hard.

    Familiarize yourself with insulin syringes and administration. Insulin is given as "units" rather than as the standard cubic centimeter (cc) or milliliters (ml); special insulin syringes come in a variety of unit sizes. Insulin is usually administered just under the skin. Your veterinarian can spend time teaching you how to do this with a minimum of protest from your dog.

  • Carefully note changes in water consumption and urination. Increases in thirst or frequency of urination may indicate the need for adjustment in insulin therapy or that a complication, like a urinary tract infection, has developed. Ask your veterinarian what the expected water consumption for your dog is and periodically measure the actual consumption.

  • If your pet vomits or does not eat, call your veterinarian for insulin recommendations. Giving the regular dose of insulin in a pet that does not eat can cause hypoglycemia. Do not skip a dose of insulin unless recommended by your veterinarian.

  • Some veterinarians will ask you to catch urine samples periodically and test them at home for glucose, ketones or both. This information may help your veterinarian adjust therapy.

    NOTE: A well-regulated diabetic pet should look and behave the same as a pet in good health.

    Prognosis

    The prognosis depends upon the overall heath of the pet, other diseases present, secondary complications from diabetes, and the pet owner's ability to treat and closely monitor their pet's progress. Many pets live a happy health live for years with diabetes with few complications. A mean survival time of pets with diabetes is 3 years from time of diagnosis. For pets that do well after 6 months of treatment, many will have a good quality of life for more than 5 years.


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