Caring For A Diabetic Dog

How do you know if your dog has diabetes?  Some of the symptoms are the increased need to urinate, drinking excessively, ravenous appetite, weight loss, and even sudden blindness (Bailey Puggle is blind) from diabetic cataracts.  While these signs and symptoms can be seen in other health conditions, a Veterinarian can diagnose diabetes pretty easily.  A dog’s glucose level should be between 80 and 120, the same as a human’s glucose level.  Like humans, glucose levels rise after mealtime and are known as a postprandial glucose levels.

When your dog is first diagnosed with diabetes it may seem overwhelming.  It IS overwhelming especially if you’ve never had a diabetic dog before.  It may also seem very costly.  It IS costly, however, there are ways to cut costs without compromising treatment.  For instance, Walmart has (human) insulin for $25 compared to other pharmacies where the price is triple/quadruple that price.  This is if the dog is prescribed human insulin.  
Bailey, my diabetic dog had been on human insulin.  The only caveat was we don’t have a Walmart here and driving to another county/state was out of the question for me personally. Eventually she was prescribed Vetsulin, insulin strictly for animals.  It costs about $80.00 a month, not much more than the human insulin when you take into consideration it’s a bigger bottle (10ml) and it lasts an entire month.  (The human insulin only lasted three weeks). 
An important thing to know is that once the insulin is opened it is only effective/good for a certain amount of time.  According to the Veterinarian the Vetsulin stays good longer.  

Then there’s the syringes:  $25 – $30 for 100 syringes.  Still looking for a better buy!  I do like this container.  It makes disposal easy and safe.

Storage (inside/bottom) & disposal (top)

Another important thing to know is that no syringe is the same.  The units are different, meaning one unit in one syringe may be a different amount in another. (ie:  IU’S)  Throw the old ones out!  When Bailey was changed to Vetsulin, her syringes were changed.  

Food: there are quite a few different brands of dog food specifically for diabetes and in my opinion, they’re all costly.  Bailey eats Hills weight management and glucose control.  

Urine: Bailey also has her urine checked for ketones regularly at home.  You can buy the strips either from your Veterinarian or online.  You don’t want ketones.  When a dog isn’t getting enough glucose their body burns their fat for energy and this produces ketones.  High ketones usually means diabetic ketoacidosis, a result of untreated or treatment resistant diabetes and can lead to very serious complications.  Bailey had a very low amount of ketones in the very beginning when she was being stabilized. The strips will also tell you if glucose is in urine by turning the pad a dark color brown. A color chart is on the back of the container for comparison.

Diabetic dogs are more prone to having urinary tract infections. The symptoms of a uti are very similar to the symptoms of diabetes making it difficult to differentiate which is causing the discomfort.

One of the things that makes me the most nervous about having a diabetic dog is the possibility of the dog going hypoglycemic, the opposite of high blood glucose.  Hypoglycemia is life threatening.  Always make sure your dog eats before giving the insulin.  Some signs of hypoglycemia in dogs is vomiting, lethargy, shaking, confusion, and very rarely seizures.  Ask your Veterinarian what you can keep in the house should this happen and get to the Veterinarian office. Too much exercise can potentially make a diabetic dog go hypoglycemic from what I’ve learned which can make weight loss challenging.

Water: a diabetic dog must always have access to water.

Veterinarian appointments.  Full blood panel every six months and blood glucose curves.  (depending on your dog, there may be many in the beginning). Some Veterinarians prefer curves to be done at home because stress can increase glucose levels. Every two hours for up to twelve hours the dog’s glucose is tested.  If you can do it at home it’s not only better for the dog, it’s one less (very costly) expense.  There’s also a fructosamine test which measures the dog’s glucose level for the last few weeks.  Pretty cool!  
While Bailey isn’t fond of the pricking and sticking for curves, (has to be done at the Veterinarian), she is very good for her insulin injections.  Twice a day twelve hours apart.  We do have the alpha trak for an occasional “prick”. The strips are very costly running about $50.

It’s normal to feel nervous or overwhelmed in the beginning.  It may take some time to adjust the dosage of insulin and get the diabetes under control so don’t feel like it’s never going to happen.  I remember feeling that way.  I so wanted my girl to gain weight and now she needs to lose weight!

Uncontrolled diabetes.

She’s also a well controlled diabetic dog and that’s what’s important.

Well controlled diabetes.

She also knows what time it is! Dinner time! She has an incredible internal clock and will raise holy Puggle hell an hour before mealtimes. 🐾


Once you have a routine it becomes so much easier and you watch your dog become healthy and happy again.  It’s truly amazing.

Pug you diabetes!

Thank you for reading.

*this is not meant as veterinary advice, just a Puggle Mom sharing her experience with her diabetic Puggle*


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