My Dog Was Just Diagnosed With Diabetes - Now What?
First of all, don't panic. Being diagnosed with diabetes is not a death sentence. Rather, view it as a call to action to live a healthy lifestyle. Many effective treatments for canine diabetes can actually reverse disease progression and allow a dog to live its average lifespan. One of first ways you can help your diabetic dog is by learning all you can about canine diabetes.
An Introduction to Canine Diabetes
Canine diabetes is much like human diabetes. It results when the body produces too little insulin, or the insulin that is produced is no longer effective. Your dog's cells require glucose in order to create energy. In order for cells to get glucose, they must absorb it from the blood with the help of insulin. When insulin is ineffective or not produced, blood glucose levels soar to dangerous levels, which can cause tissue damage if not controlled.
Changes in Diet
Diabetes treatment is based on careful regulation of blood glucose levels. To do this, you will almost certainly need to change your dog's diet. When regulating blood glucose levels, foods which allow for a more stable blood glucose level are desired. Processed foods high in sugar or simple carbohydrates can cause your dog's blood glucose levels to rise dramatically. Foods which contain more fiber and complex carbohydrates take longer for your pet to digest, allowing a slower increase in blood glucose. Some dog foods are specially formulated to help regulate your dog's blood glucose. Diabetic dogs should be fed twice a day to keep glucose levels as steady as possible. Avoid feeding your dog treats or table scraps as these can contribute to unhealthy changes in blood glucose. In addition to monitoring your pet's blood glucose levels with a testing kit you should pay attention to how much water they consume. Excessive thirst is a sign that your dog's blood glucose is too high.
Changes in Exercise
Exercise is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. Diabetic dogs can benefit as well, especially since exercise burns up glucose just as insulin does. Keep your dog on a consistent exercise regimen to help control glucose levels. Being overweight can affect your dog's insulin performance. Sometimes losing weight can help insulin to work better. Making sure your dog stays active is a great way to help your pet lose weight and manage diabetes.
Monitoring Your Dog
Keep an eye on your dog's behavior to know how well your treatment is working. If your dog has a severely decreased appetite, it may be caused by a diabetic complication called ketoacidosis, which requires immediate veterinary attention. If your dog urinates more than usual, it may be the result of excessive drinking, indirectly caused by high blood glucose levels. A change in your dog's attitude can also be a sign that treatment isn't working. Your dog may become cranky or lethargic when blood glucose levels are too high or too low. Talk with your veterinarian for the best treatment for your diabetic pet. Chances are, a few lifestyle changes will be all that is necessary for your pet's improved health.
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