Underweight Diabetic Dogs and Test Strips | Ask Dr. Joi

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2023-09-25T10:52:49-04:00Updated: September 22nd, 2016|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Diet & Nutrition, Pet Newsletter|0 Comments
  • Underweight diabetic Dog With Food Bowl

I love getting emails from our readers. Sometimes they are so good I share them. Let’s jump right into two recent email interactions I’ve had as you may have had similar questions about underweight diabetic dogs or test strip storage.

Do you have specific diet recommendations for thin diabetic dogs? I’ve read a few of your articles and may have missed your thoughts on underweight diabetic dogs and the best foods to feed. I understand that higher fiber foods, such as prescription diets often work well with diabetics. He is underweight. We do the best we can. He’s been on different foods and insulin types throughout the years. It wasn’t until a brief stint on W/D that he dropped weight and then it just seemed to snowball from there. I currently feed him a reduced fat food and chose that based on a concern with diabetics being prone to pancreatitis. In the past he had bouts of colitis. He is a nervous dog which manifests with his digestion. I feed him calories for the weight I want him to be, but should I choose a food that is moderate fat as opposed to low fat? Could the reduced fat be contributing to his weight loss or is that solely the result of high BG levels?

Answer: It’s been a while since I’ve discussed a diabetic dog who is on the lean side. So many of our diabetic canine patients are pudgy that I often chat about slimming them down to help decrease insulin resistance. Nonetheless, like your sweetheart, thin diabetic doggies do exist!

How is his appetite? With his history of colitis and diabetes (and knowing that lots of diabetic dogs become diabetic due to pancreatitis), I’d feel safest keeping him on a low fat, high fiber food. Have you considered increasing his portions even more than you have already? If his appetite is good that’s what I would do. Be sure to run a blood glucose curve about a week after increasing his portions as his insulin dose may need adjustment. I would strongly prefer that the food continue to be given twice daily, at the time of the insulin injections rather than adding a mid-day snack. Mid-meal snacks (without insulin at the same time) could cause unwanted blood glucose elevations from the snack.

In general, when a dog has had pancreatitis, we choose a low-fat diet forever because fat can stimulate the pancreas. Most vets consider “low fat” to be 10% or less fat on a dry matter basis. Most vets would rather face a pit of snakes than give a fatty meal to a dog who has had pancreatitis. How are his triglycerides? Before considering a moderate fat diet I’d also make sure his triglycerides are not elevated. High triglycerides are another potential trigger to pancreatitis. Low-fat food is your best bet for dogs who have ever had pancreatitis. Again, many diabetic dogs became diabetic secondary to a bout of pancreatitis. Many patients with a history of colitis respond well to a high fiber diet.

Is it OK to have my diabetes test strips shipped to me in the summer?

Answer: This next reader supplied both a question AND an answer. She lives in Texas and was worried if the summer heat would affect the blood glucose test strips she bought from the time of delivery until she could check her mail when she got home from work. Since I wasn’t sure of the details such as how hot it gets where she lives and where delivered mail is left, I had to dig a little deeper to get her a good answer.

I called a few of the test strip manufacturers, and the response was basically the same:
“The strips could withstand temperatures up to 133 degrees for up to 7 days and they can even be frozen and thawed up to 3 times during shipping. Of course, once the strips arrive at the destination, they should be kept at room temperature.”

So, the good news is that we don’t really have to worry if the package containing your pet’s diabetes test strips are left out in the elements for a few hours. Would it hurt to ask your mail carrier to place the package in the shade versus directly in the sun? No. But, for the few hours that this may occur, your strips will be fine and usable.

I hope that this was helpful to you too!

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

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

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