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Canine Diabetes Treatment

Canine Diabetes Treatment:

Injection of insulin is the treatment; several types of insulins are available. Short-acting insulins are effective for 1 to 4 hours. Medium-range insulins last from 4 to 24 hours, and long-range versions last from 8 to 28 hours.

Short-acting insulins are the most powerful and are often used initially to regulate glucose in dogs with ketoacidosis.

Generally canine patients are started with NPH insulin at ¼ unit per pound of body weight, twice a day with twice a day feeding. Ideally, the vet can generate an insulin response curve with the NPH, but its general action is over the course of twelve hours. Most dogs are hospitalized for two to five days to get their initial diet and insulin dosing regulated, and then go home for the owners to feed and treat, with AM and PM blood sugars checked three to four days later. It’s always best to try to regulate a dog on his own home schedule and activity, so frequent blood glucose checking in the early weeks after diagnosis is important. Usually owner education on diet and exercise, and problems with treating anxiety (both the owner’s and the dogs), feeding and dosing schedule can be discussed and accommodated in these first few weeks after the diagnosis of diabetes is made.

Follow-up glucose checking on dogs that appear to be doing well is recommended about every two to three months. Some owners like to obtain their own glucose meters to more closely follow their dog’s blood sugar levels at home.

Generally, the complications from diabetes that humans are concerned about such as nephropathy (kidney disease), retinopathy (damage to the back lining of the inside the eye), and nerve disease occur over many years. Most dogs do not have a natural life span long enough to expect these sorts of complications. Cataracts (lens pathology) in dogs subsequent to diabetes are quite common, though, and may need to be surgically removed if vision is impaired.

While insulin can keep IDDM under control so that the dog lives a normal life, the most effective type of insulin for each dog depends on its individual body and the stage of its disease. In addition, some dogs will do well with a single injection each day and others will need two injections. The type of insulin and the most effective maintenance dose can vary, so an owner must work with his veterinarian to stabilize his dog’s condition and bring the dog back to the clinic for recommended periodic blood tests.

Insulin injections (daily or twice a day) can be a true life saver for dogs with Diabetes Mellitus. There are now special diets made just for diabetic dogs – these are prescription only diets and can play an important role in maintaining the diabetic patient.

It is important to note that for optimum blood glucose levels to be maintained the dog needs to have three parameters in balance on a day-to-day basis:

1. The amount and timing of exercise should be the same every day.
2. The amount of food and time of feeding should be the same every day.
3. The amount of insulin administered should be the same and should be given at the same time each day.

If any one of these three parameters are different on any given day, the requirements of the other two parameters will be changed. For example, if a dog gets the usual amount of exercise today as normal but happens not to eat its meal, then the dog may need considerably less insulin in that day’s injection. Otherwise, if the usual amount of insulin is given, the dog may become hypoglycemic and develop signs of low blood sugar. Keeping the diabetic dog regulated in all three areas will enhance the animal’s quality of life.

Because the dog must receive daily doses of insulin, owners must learn to do the injections and store the insulin properly.
Veterinarians can prescribe the particular type of insulin, teach owners to do the injections, and provide instructions for storage.

It is a wise practice to have your dog checked yearly by your vet, and urine and blood screens (usually fasting) should be a part of that checkup. The earlier diabetes is detected, the better the chances of successful treatment. The vet will have to perform tests, including a blood test, to diagnose diabetes, and to prescribe the proper dose of insulin to be administered. Undetected / untreated diabetes can lead to greater urinary tract infections and cataracts.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetes. If diabetes is found and treatment is required, the treatment will be daily injections of insulin; there are no oral medications available for animals. Your vet will show you the proper way to administer the treatment, and provide a time schedule. Stick to the schedule!

It’s very important for you to monitor how your dog responds to the injected insulin dosage. You do that by testing the urine with EST strips usually available at drug stores or pet stores. The test strip will tell you how much sugar is present in the dog’s system, and you may have to adjust the dosage of insulin based on the results. Have your vet teach you how to use the test kits, what results to look for, and when to administer higher or lower dosages.

Keep a record of the test strips results, amount of insulin given, and your dog’s eating behaviors and attitude. This will not only help you understand the dog’s condition, but will help your vet if other problems arise.

You need to be strict about what you feed your dog. Foods high in fiber and protein, with restricted fats and carbohydrates are best. Feed your dog at the same time every day because what they eat and when they eat it, will affect its sugar / insulin levels.
One-third of the total daily amount of food should be given 1/2 hour prior to the injection. The remaining amount of food should be given 8-10 hours later. If your dog likes a snack before bedtime take it out of the 2/3rds amount.

Set up an exercise program and stick to it. If you decide to walk your dog, or play catch for 20 minutes every day, you need to be consistent. Exercise will affect the "sugar" levels in the dog’s blood stream – and you don’t want that level "up" one day and "down" the next. The "up and down" isn’t good for the dog. If your dog is overweight, you’ll have to put it on a diet to lose weight slowly. Obesity creates a demand for more insulin. Those who are overweight, use insulin less effectively.

If your dog is a female, talk to your vet about spaying (if she isn’t already) because spaying eliminates the interaction of the female hormones with blood sugar levels and this will help toward stabilizing insulin levels.

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