Some of the questions I get are worth sharing. These are real life questions from our readers. Your emails are the inspiration for most of my articles and certainly the “Ask Dr, Joi” series. Keep ’em coming! Today’s article is about Specialty Diets and Supplements.

I am currently feeding my extremely food-driven diabetic Labrador Purina Pro Plan DCO. I’m not sure that this is the best food for her. Her blood sugar levels are consistently in the 300’s. She uses Vetsulin insulin. Of course she eats every single kibble before you can turn around. I wonder if you would recommend a different food.

DCO is a great food choice for a diabetic dog. It’s high in fiber and low in fat. For diabetic dogs we like high-fiber, low-fat foods. DCO is such a diet. Cats are a different story – for diabetic cats we usually recommend a low-carb, high-protein diet. Do also note that when we feed diabetic dogs is almost as important as what we feed diabetic dogs. Timing of meals matters! Are you giving the food and insulin at the same time (12 hours apart) and avoiding mid-meal snacks? Mid-meal snacks often cause unwanted blood glucose elevations.

Hmm… Consistently in the 300s… Does that mean throughout the day? Or is that the blood glucose before an insulin injection? If the day starts with a blood glucose of 300 and goes down after the insulin then works its way back to 300 for the evening meal, that is probably fantastic. If it is in the 300s all day long that’s not so good. My “perfect curve” would be most of the blood glucose readings under 300 with a low point around 100. We don’t always get that, but a vet can dream!

I’d like to know what his numbers are like during an insulin curve. That’s checking every 2 hours from one meal/injection until the next meal/injection. If the blood glucose goes below 150, I would suggest to check it hourly until the glucose rises. That way I know where it really bottoms out. Curves also tell us how long an insulin lasts for your pet.

If the blood glucose really is in the 300s throughout the day (not just at the time of the insulin injection) then please have a chat with your vet. Rule out and address potential causes of insulin resistance. Common causes of insulin resistance are dental disease, urinary tract infections and obesity. Your vet might adjust the insulin dosage or possibly even change the type of insulin. You’ll need a blood glucose curve to help make such decisions.

My 12 year old lab is experiencing weakness and muscle loss in her hind legs. I’m interested in adding a joint supplement such as Cosequin or Dasuquin to her diet/medication regimen. Can you tell me any tips, suggestions, or precautions when introducing such a supplement to a diabetic dog? Will the supplement affect regulation? Are there certain ingredients to look for or stay away from or a particular brand that is especially good for diabetics? I’d love to support my dog’s mobility but not to the detriment of her diabetes.

I had to read up on this before answering! It appears that in normal healthy dogs, Dasuquin does not affect glycemic control. In a human study, glucosamine didn’t affect glycemic control. I didn’t find a definitive study of glucosamine products on diabetic dogs or cats, but they would be unlikely to affect glycemic control in diabetic pets.

However, whenever making any change to your diabetic pet’s routine or medications you should run a blood glucose curve about a week later. Even if a medication might affect glucose control, so long as it isn’t a steroid, I’d be tempted to use it regardless – if it improved the pet’s quality of life. We can always adjust the amount of insulin given.

I’m a fan of Cosequin and Dasuquin. In my own clinic I also have Adequan injections as some pets may have a better response to Adequan than Consequin or Dasuquin. You might also consider Omega-3 fatty acids as they have natural anti-inflammatory effects. If your pet has had pancreatitis don’t go hog wild with the fatty acids, but a normal dose may help arthritis. Do consult your vet!

Give the supplements at meal time as they will have a few calories in them. I’d like your pet to consume these extra calories with the meal and when insulin is given.

Remember that when it comes to arthritis, a proper body weight probably gets better results than any supplement. If your doggie is chubby, please work on getting the weight off. Additionally, regular daily controlled exercise is important. If you suffer from arthritis, you are better off getting consistent regular daily exercise rather than sitting around 5 days a week and being a weekend warrior the other 2 days! Not only does regular exercise help maintain muscle mass to support joints, regular daily exercise makes it easier to predict blood glucose levels.

Have a question or comment? Post below or email me at I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

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