Diabetes mellitus is characterized by high levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia) and the presence of glucose in the urine (glucosuria). Some dogs are genetically predisposed to diabetes and others develop it due to health conditions like obesity. Common symptoms of canine diabetes include polyuria (excessive urination), polydipsia (excessive drinking), and polyphagia (increased hunger and eating).

If your dog has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, managing their condition may seem overwhelming at first—that’s completely understandable, given that managing diabetes requires daily monitoring. Your veterinarian will get you started by making an at-home diabetes management plan for you. Understanding the plan’s components, detailed below, will make managing your dog’s diabetes more, well, manageable!

Insulin Administration
Canine diabetes is treated with daily insulin. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ dose, so your veterinarian will make an individualized insulin regimen for your dog. Follow this regimen carefully! If you’re unsure how to give your dog insulin, or feel uncomfortable with injections, ask your veterinarian for a tutorial on administering insulin. Fortunately, insulin needles are tiny, so your dog will likely adjust quickly to the injections.

Contact your veterinarian right away if your dog is showing signs of an insulin overdose, such as tremors and weakness; do not change the insulin dose on your own. Also, your dog’s insulin needs may change over time, so your veterinarian may occasionally adjust the insulin regimen.

Glucose Monitoring
Blood glucose levels that are too high or too low can have serious health consequences, making daily glucose monitoring essential to effective diabetes management. Several blood and urine glucose monitoring devices are available, such as the PawCheck® General Wellness Test, which checks for glucosuria. Talk with your veterinarian about which monitoring device to use and how to use it.

If your dog’s glucose levels are abnormal, despite insulin treatment, your veterinarian may need to adjust the insulin dose.

Diet
A nutritious diet and regular feeding regimen help keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. An ideal diet for dogs with diabetes is high in protein, low in fat, and contains complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber; these diets are available commercially or by veterinary prescription. Your veterinarian will help you select the right diet for your dog. Whichever diet you choose, feed the same amount every day at the same time.

Exercise
Daily exercise is important for dogs with diabetes. It helps with weight loss, which is important if a dog is overweight. Exercise also reduces blood glucose levels; during exercise, the body’s cells pull glucose from the blood for energy. Over time, exercise can reduce your dog’s insulin needs because blood glucose levels will be lower.

Work with your veterinarian to develop an exercise plan that’s right for your dog. This plan can include more walks and more playtime.

Routine checkups
Routine checkups will help your veterinarian monitor your dog’s diabetes and overall health. For example, dogs with diabetes can develop cataracts, so your veterinarian will examine your dog’s eyes during the checkups. During these appointments, ask whatever questions you may have about diabetes management.

In conclusion, managing diabetes in dogs takes a daily commitment, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Your dog loves you unconditionally, so do the best you can to help them live a happy life with diabetes.