I recently got one of those email forwards. You know the kind. Our friends send them to us. Sometimes we immediately delete them for fear of getting a dreaded computer virus. If it comes from a friend who sends us “good ones” or that make us laugh, we typically open them. This particular email was titled, “Why didn’t I think of that?” It was about practical common sense suggestions for everyday life. I thought, “Boy, I could write one of these articles for diabetic pets!”

Over my 2 decades in veterinary medicine I’ve seen a fair number of diabetic pets at the hospital, brought in by pet-sitters when the owners were called out of town. Writing down your daily routine ahead of time (rather than in a rushed last minute flurry) could save your pet from serious diabetic mistakes.

Some things you should consider:

  • Keep a file on your pet’s medical history. Ask your vet for a copy of recent lab results for your file. Keep driving direction handy showing where the local ER hospitals are. If your pet is sick and needs to go to the ER, you don’t want to have to search for papers or drive around searching for the hospital. Hopefully you won’t need it, but have it ready to go just in case.
  • Have a summary of your pet’s routine written out. If you were to be called out of town suddenly and need to call in a favor from a friend to take care of your diabetic pet, this will be extremely helpful to your pet’s caretaker. Write down when and how much your pet is fed. Write down the type of food and where you purchase it. Write down how much insulin and the times it is given. Write down where you obtain your insulin. Leave your veterinarian’s phone number and your cell phone number so that the caretaker can always reach you.
  • If you must leave suddenly, have a diabetes travel kit ready to go. It should include a cooler (to keep the insulin cold), syringes, your glucose meter and testing supplies, some plastic containers that you can fill with your dog’s kibble or cans of your cat’s diabetic food and a can opener. Have a checklist of everyday things you will want to bring like an ice pack, the insulin, pet carrier, cat litter or a leash, other medications your pet may take regularly. You can get ice packs from your vet clinic. We get medications and vaccines shipped to us that must stay cool. We vets always have a few ice packs to spare. Or you could get one of the electric coolers that plug into your car.

Hopefully these suggestions are worth 20 minutes of your time to organize a “diabetes kit” for a shelf in your pantry or garage. Hopefully you won’t ever have to hurry up and get out of Dodge, but if you do you can rest at ease that your pet’s diabetes kit is ready to go.


NOTE: Consult your veterinarian to confirm that my recommendations are applicable for the health needs of your pet.

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 and is the President and Founder of 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