It’s not rocket science that we need to get up and move our bodies around. When we exercise we maintain muscle mass, burn calories, boost our serotonin levels and just downright feel better. Even our clothes fit better when we are in shape. Dogs and cats may not have “fat” pants and “skinny” pants, but you can bet they feel the benefits of exercise!
In past articles I have mentioned that I have a very food motivated cat. Twinkle is nearly nine years old and has been “on a diet” for the last 7. Trust me, I know how difficult it is to say ‘No’ to your sweetie! Sometimes I think she wonders if I’m daft for not understanding that the food bowl is empty AGAIN! Other than chasing lizards in the screened-in pool area, Twinkle really sees no great value in moving her body about. Two years ago I even tried taking her on walks in the neighborhood in a harness. I was willing to be viewed by neighbors as that ‘crazy cat lady’ for the health of my kitty, but Twink wanted no part of it. I have tried laser lights, fuzzy mouse toys – to no avail. It can be difficult to get a cat to exercise. Therefore, this discussion with exercise and diabetes really is bent toward diabetic dog owners. It applies to cats, but few pet owners take their cats on hikes.
We all have different schedules in this crazy world, but given my preference I would like diabetic pets to get their exercise around the time of the insulin injection. Exercise improves the absorption of insulin, especially if the daily routine involves exercise around the time of insulin injections.
Probably the greatest benefit of exercise is that it decreases the risk of obesity and can get the unwanted pounds off our chubby patients. Obesity causes insulin resistance. Many diabetic pets can ‘pinch an inch’, as they say. Getting them to a proper body weight makes good glucose control much more achievable.
All exercise is good, but if we can set a routine it is even better! Sporadic exercise isn’t as good as regular daily exercise routines. Weekend warrior stuff can result in hypoglycemia. Certainly most of us aren’t going to regularly climb a mountain, but if your diabetic dog joins you on said adventure, bring your glucose meter and a little extra dog food in your back pack.
We run curves to evaluate how a dose of insulin lasts for the pet. This can change with the amount of food fed and exercise habits for that pet. Changing up the daily routine means less consistency. This is one of the reasons I like owners to measure the amount of food given to diabetic pets. Consistency! Consistency! Consistency! If you set routines for exercise and portions fed, it makes it easier to achieve good glucose control.
As always, readers are welcome to email me stories and questions at Joi.SuttonDVM@adwdiabetes.com.
NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.