Many dog owners are surprised to learn that their pets can develop diabetes at any point throughout their lifetime, and just like in humans, diabetes is a condition that can cause severe complications if left unmanaged. Therefore, if your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, it's important to understand the implications of this and what you need to do to ensure its well-being. To help you with this, below are three commonly asked questions regarding diabetes in dogs:
Will My Dog Need Insulin Injections?
If your dog develops diabetes, the condition will manifest itself in much the same way it does in humans. This means that its pancreas will stop producing as much insulin as it should, which can lead to complications if insulin levels aren't controlled. Insulin is a hormone that is present in both humans and animals and is absolutely necessary in order to convert glucose into energy. Unless you manage your dog's insulin levels through regular injections, their body will turn to fat as its primary energy source. If this is allowed to continue unchecked, it can lead to a life-threatening complication known as acidosis.
Therefore, it's vitally important that you manage your dog's insulin levels to ensure its body is able to convert glucose into energy. Every dog has different requirements, and unfortunately, it isn't possible to give general guidelines that can apply to every canine. Typically, your pet will require insulin injections once or twice daily in order to restore its body's natural insulin levels and ensure that complications do not occur. However, only your veterinary practitioner will be able to give specific guidelines regarding insulin control, so it's vitally important to keep them up-to-date with any changes in your dog's condition.
How Will My Dog's Activity Level Be Affected?
Exercise is perhaps one of the most effective ways that diabetics can manage their blood sugar levels. This is true not only for humans, but for dogs as well. In fact, a regular exercise regime can help reduce your dog's dependency on insulin injections, allowing it to live life as naturally as possible. The main reason for this is that exercise will force your dog's body to burn energy, which will keep blood sugar levels low and ensure that it does not experience spikes in their blood sugar levels. Furthermore, regular exercise will increase the rate at which blood is pumped around your dog's body, which can help to reduce the concentration of glucose in its blood.
Unfortunately, the onset of diabetes will have an impact on your dog's exercise routines, so keep the following in mind to ensure you don't cause unnecessary strain on your dog's body.
Keep your dog on a strict exercise schedule, ensuring that it exercises at the same time every day. This will give your pet's body time to adapt to changes in blood sugar level, and by maintaining a strict routine, its body will be able to adapt over the long term.
Keep your dog's exercise at a moderate intensity, because high-intensity exercise can cause huge swings in its blood sugar levels.
Speak with your vet before you add any additional exercises into your dog's routine or before you change the intensity level. This will ensure that you don't make any changes that may harm your dog over the long term or make its condition worse.
Will I Have to Change My Dog's Diet?
Dogs with diabetes should be kept on a strict diet in order to keep their blood sugar levels at a manageable level. Diets that are high in carbohydrates can cause blood sugar spikes, which may cause complications down the line. Rather than feeding your dog a diet rich in carbohydrates, gradually move toward a meat-based, high-protein diet with adequate amounts of fat. A good diet to follow is one that gets 30–40% calories from protein and less than 30% from fat and carbohydrates each.
As well as ensuring your dog's diet has the proper macro-nutrient composition, it's also vitally important that you feed your dog at the correct times throughout the day. Maintaining a fixed feeding schedule will ensure that its body is able to adapt to the differences in blood sugar throughout the day. One of the worst things you could do is feed your dog at random times throughout the day, as this will not give their body a chance to fall into a routine, making it difficult for your dog to manage its blood sugar levels.
To learn more about your dog's diabetes, contact a representative from a facility like Bijou Animal Hospital P.C.