Pet Treats, Pet Insulin Injection Timing and Dr. Joi’s Thoughts

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2018-09-07T15:27:48-04:00Updated: May 5th, 2016|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Diet & Nutrition, Pet Newsletter|3 Comments
  • Dog and Cat on Couch

I always get excited when I get emails from people with a diabetic pet because it allows me the chance to help them as well as use their questions to help pass helpful information along to the ADW newsletter readers too. Just in the last week I received emails about the timing of the insulin injection for dogs and treats for diabetic pets. So, here are the questions and my replies. I’m hopeful that part of this is helpful to you as well – either now or in the near future.

I have a question about insulin injection timing. With summer coming up there will be times when I either have to miss granddaughter events to stay home and make sure that my dog gets his insulin injection within the 1/2 hour window of the regular time, or just hope for the best and give him his injection as soon as I get home. I understanding that timing of injections is very important, but what happens if it is an hour or two late once in a great while? Is that a risk worth taking?

Yes, it is a risk worth taking now and then. Spend time with your granddaughter! Of course, take into account the big picture. If your pet’s diabetes is rock steady a little delay is pretty unlikely to cause an issue. If the insulin is more than 2 hours early or 2 hours delayed compared to the regular time, you might just skip the dose or decrease the dose a smidge so there isn’t an overlap of insulin doses. An overlap of insulin could cause hypoglycemia which would be problematic if nobody was home. A skipped dose means higher blood glucose for a short period of time, and your sweetie may have to urinate more than usual until back on track.

This would be a great time to check a blood glucose to guide you if you might lower the dosage given in such a circumstance. Some diabetic pet owners regularly check Fluffy’s blood glucose before each insulin injection. Some pet owners only check blood glucose levels when doing a blood glucose curve or if something is out of the norm (aka a “spot check”). This would be a perfect example of a good time to do a spot check! For more on pet insulin injections and their timing please see my article: “Timing is Everything”

I’d also suggest you have this conversation with your vet who knows your pet!

What are good treats for diabetic pets? Are Greenies a good treat for my diabetic pet?

The answer to this depends on the species! And then I’ll toss in a bit of info regarding timing of treats.

Diabetic cats do better on low carb diets, preferably less than 10% carbs. The lower, the better for glucose regulation. Canned food is usually much lower in carbs than kibble, so we encourage owners of diabetic felines to feed canned food only. Even though treats should be only a small portion of the caloric intake each day, it makes sense to also use low carb treats. Many treats are high in carbohydrates. You need to look at the label! There are so many treats available in pet stores! Perhaps the tastiest and easiest option would be to give your diabetic kitty a small piece of meat or fish if you wish to give a treat. Word on the street is that Greenies are delicious–at least my cats tell me so. Nonetheless, if your cat is diabetic you might steer clear as Greenies for felines have 30% carbs. If you gave one now and then, say if your diabetic cat stole a Greenies treat from your non-diabetic cat, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Nonetheless, it’s not a preferred treat for diabetic cats.

One of my favorite treats for cats (including diabetic cats) is good ole catnip. I used to live in Oregon and now I live in south Florida. It is very easy to grow in both of these vastly different climates. It’s a mint but it grows like a weed! You can get seeds from the local grocery or hardware store and grow it in the ground or in a pot. My cats like the dried catnip, but they go crazy for freshly picked catnip.

Diabetic dogs are not limited by low carbs. This doesn’t mean it is OK to feed your diabetic doggie a donut or other simple carbohydrates! For diabetic dogs we typically strive for a diet that is low in fat. Carbohydrates are fine for diabetic dogs so long as they are complex carbohydrates which take a while for the body to digest. Protein content doesn’t need to be adjusted relative to the typical non-diabetic dog. In general there are lots of good dog treats for diabetic dogs. Greenies are low in fat and have complex carbohydrates. Greenies are a great choice for diabetic dogs.

Now let’s chat about timing. In general diabetic pets (both dogs and cats) do best when given the majority of their calories every 12 hours when they get their insulin. If you plan on making Fluffy’s day, give the special treat around meal-time, when the insulin you inject can act upon the treat. Look at the list of ingredients and decrease the calories of the regular diet fed by the number of calories in the treat you are about to give your pet.

As always, I enjoy getting emails from readers. Feel free to email me at [email protected]

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets special health needs.

About the Author: Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida. Connect with Dr. Joi on LinkedIn


  1. Mom of PorkChop May 5, 2016 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    I had a sweet “PorkChop” feline of 14 years – he arrived in my life at the age of 5 weeks and departed 2 years ago today at the age of14 – he fought the battles of Diabetes for 7 years he finally lost the war. My life revolved around his glucose checks, insulin shots and fruct testing monthly. I would do it all over again for the rest of my life, I would do it again for just one more day with my little guy. It is vital that the insulin shots are at the same time daily. I missed a couple of time slots and paid by ending up in the emergency room because of crashing events. I did this once or twice and but never again. His life was too important to me to miss that special time slot we had set up. Another reason we survived 7 years with this mean, hateful disease was the time of his meds. It was the internal organs that began shutting down that took my beloved PorkChop from me. People with diabetic pets do not understanding they are just like people that need their meds at the same time everyday morning and night!!!!

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