It never ceases to amaze me the love and care some folks take with regulating a diabetic pet. It gives me great joy when clients check their pet’s blood glucose – whether before giving an insulin injection OR running a blood glucose curve OR even if it is when something doesn’t seem quite right. Being involved and taking the time to educate oneself on the pet’s medical condition: That spells love.

Now, some folks couldn’t be bothered to check a pet’s blood glucose. I’ve met them! They want to give the same insulin dose day in and day out. They don’t want to own a blood glucose meter nor learn how to use it. This is very old school and how vets used to practice ages ago. Diabetic pets didn’t live as long back then as they can today. This is how diabetic pet owners, and veterinarians, were when I started in this biz 3 decades ago. Back then there was no Internet to educate dedicated clients. Back then blood glucose meters weren’t as accurate and required more blood per sample than they do today.

These days most folks are savvy to the Internet. Even if the veterinarian doesn’t initially encourage home glucose testing, people with a diabetic pet can Google diabetic pet care and find educational sites such as ADW Diabetes and self educate. If nothing else it gives people a starting point for a conversation with the family veterinarian. Some veterinarians don’t suggest home testing to diabetic pet owners. That’s a pity. Education is key to a well-regulated diabetic pet. Furthermore, education and home testing can minimize dangerous errors when things aren’t going smoothly!

When we have a diabetic pet, the day to day routine varies with each of them. Most diabetic pets are good eaters. I’m talking about the clean plate club. These good eaters make diabetes much easier to manage than when a pet is finicky or skips meals. For these pets in the clean plate club, if we feed them equal portions every 12 hours, we can usually give equal doses of insulin day in and day out. Consistency is your friend when it comes managing to a diabetic pet.

Some diabetic pets are anything but consistent. Whether from nausea or other illness, a diabetic pet may not want to eat when it’s time for the insulin dose. You should chat with your vet about anti-nausea meds and diagnostics to check if there is other concurrent illness, but there are actually some pets that lack food motivation. These critters make it a whole lot more difficult to manage their diabetes. THESE are the pets that I hope have dedicated humans who will check their blood glucose before receiving insulin. These are the pets who would benefit from a “sliding scale” insulin dose based on the blood glucose value and whether the pet ate a little or ate a lot. This is not something I can provide. This is something you should work out with your veterinarian who has knowledge of your pet’s tendencies and health. It would be improper for me to tell anyone how much insulin to give a pet I’ve not personally examined. Before anyone asks, I won’t tell you how much insulin to give your pet. I am able to give general guidelines only for pets I’ve not examined.

Let’s not forget to mention “tight diabetic control” that some diabetic cat owners achieve with hope of getting a cat into diabetic remission. Diabetic cats are much like type 2 diabetic humans. Some diabetic humans who are flirting with diabetes can control their diabetes with weight loss and proper eating. This means very little refined carbohydrates. For humans this means no donuts and no candy and minimal refined carbs such as bread and rice and pasta. For kitties this means no kibble. If a patient (human or feline) has a high blood glucose, the high blood glucose hinders the insulin producing cells of the pancreas from making insulin. This is called “glucose toxicity”. When we get newly diagnosed diabetic cats on insulin and a low carbohydrate diet, we may achieve diabetic remission.

Diabetic remission in cats may last for a short period or may be forever. Veterinarians don’t have a way of telling how long remission will last, but certainly we encourage folks to continue feeding low carb (canned) food to any cat that achieves remission. I advise no more kibble ever to these cats in remission or else you may find yourself giving insulin injections again. Tight diabetic control means these pet owners check the blood glucose before each injection of insulin and adjust the insulin dosage based on the blood glucose reading and how much the pet eats. Many diabetic cats will go into remission with insulin (the same dose each time) and low carb canned food and weight loss, but the chances are better when the owner adjusts the dosage each time based on the blood glucose at that time. I’ve never seen a diabetic dog go into diabetic remission, but it is possible if the diabetes is gestational in an intact female.

Folks who take the time to check a pet’s blood glucose often will likely have a longer lived diabetic pet. I will do nearly anything for my pets. They are my family. If one of my pets were diabetic, I’d check the blood glucose often. If I had a finicky diabetic, I’d likely check the blood glucose before each injection.

Have a question or comment? Then post below! I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

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

Dr . Joi Sutton

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.
Dr . Joi Sutton