My Canine is Diabetic: Planning Daily Exercise

Although there is no cure for canine diabetes, there are ways to control it if your canine is diabetic to allow your dog to have the best quality of life possible. Treatment options for diabetic canines run the gamut from regular insulin injections to regular exercise. If your canine is diabetic, no matter what medications your vet administers, he will also recommend a special diet and regular exercise.

What is Canine Diabetes?

Canine diabetes or "Diabetes Mellitus" is a group of conditions in which there is sensitivity to the hormone insulin or a deficiency of it. If there is insufficient insulin in the dog's body, glucose production doesn't stop. The blood concentration of glucose rises and it eventually exceeds a level that can be processed properly by the kidneys. The kidneys allow glucose to leak into the urine. The glucose takes large amounts of water with it causing the body to produce larger volumes of urine. This causes thirst and increased water consumption. So two of the main clinical signs of diabetes in dogs is excessive urination (polyuria) and excessive water consumption (polydipsia).

Because diabetic canines breakdown stores of fat and protein to make glucose and ketones (an alternative fuel) in the liver, they tend to lose weight. This is another clinical sign of diabetes in dogs. Other symptoms of diabetes in dogs include: recurrent infections, cataracts, increased appetite (polyphagia), and exercise intolerance.

How is Canine Diabetes Treated?

Canine diabetes can be treated with regular insulin injections or "insulin therapy," through a special diet, and through regular exercise. Insulin ("caninsulin" or "vetsulin)) is used to treat diabetic dogs and cats. It comes from the pancreas of pigs. Other forms of insulin such as porcine insulin uses the same components as caninsulin. If your vet prescribes insulin for diabetes control, he will show you how to administer the shots.

What Type of Exercise Program is Best for my Diabetic Canine?

Exercise is crucial to controlling dog diabetes. Regular exercise utilizes energy and in turn, helps to avoid hyperglycemia. Increased blood flow during exercise improves insulin absorption, which helps to further lower the blood glucose concentration. You should continue your regular exercise routine, meaning, if your dog exercised regularly before diabetes, you shouldn't alter the routine. If you change your dog's regular exercise habits by increasing exercise, your dog will use more glucose. In diabetic canines, this will result in extremely low blood sugar (glucose) levels which can deprive the brain of energy. This can result in loss of consciousness. If your dog did not exercise regularly, your vet will plan an exercise regimen based on your dog's current condition, age, and stage of diabetes.

What are Special Diets for Diabetic Canines?

A diabetes diet doesn't allow for snacking between meals and large amounts of dog treats. A diabetic dog diet is usually high in fiber and complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Your vet will help you plan a diet based on the stage of your pet's diabetes, his age, current physical condition, and so on.