Insulin Management for Diabetic Dogs

Diabetic dogs require a balance of medication, diet and exercise to properly control their diabetes. All of these components play key roles in keeping the diabetic dog healthy and active. As the medication part of the equation, insulin injections replace what the dog's pancreas can no longer produce in sufficient quantities.

Types of Insulin

There are several types of insulin that a veterinarian may choose to prescribe for a diabetic dog.

  • Novolin is a brand of insulin that can be used for canine, feline and human injections
  • Caninsulin is a brand of insulin specifically formulated for use in canine diabetes mellitus
  • Vetsulin is a brand of insulin formulated and FDA approved for use in dogs and cats only

Insulin Dosage for Dogs

When prescribing insulin to a newly diagnosed diabetic dog, the veterinarian must take several things into consideration to determine the best dosing schedule and dosage for the dog. First consideration is the dog's weight. He must also look at how frequently the dog is fed, whether it's once, twice or more frequently during the day. The vet must understand how much activity the dog has on a daily basis. Considering these factors and discussing the dog owner's availability, the vet will determine whether the dog should receive injections once or twice daily and what the dosage should be for each injection.

During the initial stabilization phase, the veterinarian may ask the owner to keep a log of the dog's activity level, food intake and overall demeanor. If the dog owner is comfortable with using a glucose monitor and taking small blood samples from the dog, the veterinarian may also ask them to monitor the dog's blood sugar levels throughout the day in order to keep a close eye on how the insulin is impacting the dog. The log and blood sugar readings will help the veterinarian adjust the insulin to the most optimal dose.

Blood Glucose Monitoring

In order to maintain optimal blood sugar control, the diabetic dog's blood sugar should be monitored occasionally to ensure the dosage is still appropriate. Depending upon the dog's health, changes in activity or change in diet, the blood sugar readings can help the owner or veterinarian to adjust the insulin dose as necessary. The veterinarian can advise the owner as to how frequently the blood sugar should be monitored. If the owner isn't comfortable with home blood sugar monitoring, the veterinarian may ask them to bring the dog in occasionally to test the blood sugar levels.

Hypoglycemic Reactions

Throughout a diabetic dog's lifetime, he may experience some hypoglycemic episodes. This may occur if the dog was more active than usual or didn't eat as much as he normally would. Signs of hypoglycemia are disorientation, instability when standing and, in cases where the blood sugar has dipped extremely low, seizures. It is best to keep quick sugar on hand for these instances. In the home, having a squeezable honey bottle will allow the owner to squirt some honey directly into the dog's mouth and for the dog on the go, the owner might keep packets of honey available for quick elevation of blood sugar levels.

While controlling a dog's diabetes may require some extra steps, effectively managing his blood sugar levels by managing his insulin requirements, feeding consistently and providing appropriate levels of activity, a diabetic dog can lead a healthy and happy life.