Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Safe Glucose Levels For My Dog?

Ideally, you should aim to maintain a range of 7 - 14 mmol/L for as much of the day as possible. Your dog can safely go down to 5 mmol/L however, it is preferable to go no lower than around 7 mmol/L so that if there is a drop caused by either stress or excitement, your dog will still be in a safe range. A simple thing such as a visitor, a knock at the front door or even a difference in temperatures can affect the glucose levels in your dog.

Is It Okay To Free Feed My Diabetic Dog?

No. Your dog needs a diet that will work with their insulin dose to keep their glucose levels stable. Free feeding will cause glucose levels to spike throughout the day.  You should maintain a schedule of  feeding the exact same meal, twice a day at the same time, 12 hours apart.

Can I Cure My Dog's Diabetes With A Diet Change Or Products I've Seen For Sale?

No. There is no cure for diabetes in dogs. Dog's have Type 1 Diabetes where the insulin production in the pancreas is permanently destroyed. You can successfully manage your dog's diabetes with a good diet and insulin therapy but you can not cure it. Don't waste your money on products sold in shops and online that claim to cure diabetes in dogs.

Can My Dog Have Treats?

Yes, occasionally but not the usual shop bought treats that he is used to having. Shop bought treats contain sugars, cereals, high fat, flavourings, flours and oils. All a big No - No for diabetic dogs. Instead, if you have to offer treats, try things such as a couple of frozen or warmed green beans, scrambled or boiled egg white, fat free cottage cheese, a small piece of skinless chicken or turkey breast or home made chicken jerky. Even though most dog's can have these occasional treats without it affecting their blood sugar levels much, you should check your dog's glucose levels after a treat to see the affect they have on him.

I've Been Told To Inject Insulin Before I feed My Dog, Is That Okay?

No. You should not inject insulin before your dog has eaten. If your dog refuses to eat or is sick after eating food and you have already administered insulin you risk your dog becoming dangerously hypoglycemic. We can all say "My dog is never sick!" or "My dog never refuses food!" Until they ARE sick and DO refuse their food.

My Dog Only Ate A Small Part Of His Food, Shall I Skip Insulin?

No. Unless your dog's fasting reading was below 11 mmol/L, your dog still needs insulin for his basal needs. If your dog doesn't eat you should give 1/4 of the usual dose of insulin. If your dog eats 1/2 of his food you should give 1/2 of the usual dose of insulin. If your dog eats 3/4 of his food then you should give 3/4 of the usual dose of the insulin.

My Dog's Fasting Glucose Level Is Low, How Much Insulin Shall I Give?

You have up to one hour after eating to administer insulin. If your dog has a reading under 11 mmol/L at fasting (just before feeding), feed as normal then retest the glucose level 30 minutes after eating. If the reading is lower than 11 mmol/L, wait a further 30 mins (an hour in total) and retest. If an hour after food has been eaten, the reading is 11mmol/L or above you can give a full dose. If the reading is 8mmol/L or above, reduce your dog's usual insulin dosage by 25%. If the reading is 7mmol/L or above, reduce the dose by 50%. 5.5mmol/L or above, reduce the dose by 75%. If under 5.5mmol/L, skip the dose entirely do not give any insulin. Instead apply a little honey/ syrup/ glucogel to your dog's gums to bring the glucose level up quickly to a safer range. Recheck the glucose level 15 minutes later. If the reading is still below 5.5 mmol/L,  repeat with the honey/ syrup/ glucogel on the gums and recheck the glucose levels every 15 minutes.

My Dog Has Been Sick After His Injection, What Should I do?

If your dog has been sick and he will eat it again, let him! As gross as that sounds to us, it's a sure way of knowing your dog has the right amount of food in his system to work with the insulin. If he is not willing to eat it, see if he will eat another meal. If he is refusing any further food, contact your vet for advice straight away.

Why Won't My Dog Gain Weight?

Regardless of how much food your dog consumes, until his glucose levels are under control, the body will continue to use existing fat and muscle for energy instead of the food eaten, causing weight loss. If your dog is still losing weight even though his glucose level seems stable, check the fibre content in his diet. With too much fibre in the diet, your dog will continue to lose weight even when regulated. If you have any concern about your dog's weight, speak to your vet.

Why Does My Dog Continue To Drink Lots And Pee In The House?

High levels of glucose in the bloodstream causes dehydration and your dog will drink lots of water due to feeling uncontrollable thirst. This then leads to excessive urination. Your dog has no control over this and water should never be withheld. As soon as your dog's sugar levels start to come down with insulin therapy, the excessive thirst and urination will cease. If your dog continues to urinate in the house, you should have him checked for further problems such as urinary tract infections, kidney problems and Cushings Disease.

Why Is My Dog So Hungry All The Time?

Another symptom of high glucose levels is uncontrollable hunger. When these levels are high, the body no longer carries the glucose that is produced from food to the cells for energy so your dog will still be feeling hungry regardless of the amount of food he is eating. Once your dog is receiving insulin and the glucose levels in the blood reduce, the hunger feelings will subside.

My Bitch Experiences Very High Glucose Levels When She Is In Heat, Will Spaying Help?

Yes. When a bitch goes into heat, the production of progesterone in the body will result in instability of glucose levels. Spaying should be carried out as soon as possible before your dog experiences another heat. Once a female is spayed, she will usually need less insulin.

example of a somogyi overswing in dog diabetes

What Is A Somogyi Overswing?

Somogyi overswing, also known as a rebound, is caused by an overdose of insulin. As hypoglycemia begins to develop, a hormonal response is triggered in the body which causes a release of glucose from hepatic glycogen stores. If you suspect a Somogyi overswing, you should reduce your dog's insulin dosage by 25% for at least 6 doses and then run a curve test to determine a new safe dosage.


My Dog Is Experiencing High Fasting Numbers, Should I Raise My Dog's Insulin Dose?

The amount of insulin you give to your dog should never be determined on high glucose readings, regardless of how high they are. Only ever go on the lowest reading of a curve. If your dog is experiencing a Somogyi overswing/ rebound, you will see high fasting numbers and a fast occurring or too low nadir (lowest numbers in the day). By increasing the insulin dosage, your dog's nadir will lower still, risking a potentially dangerous hypoglycemic episode. If your dog has a nadir no lower than around 8 mmol/L but is still experiencing high fasting numbers, you can instead look at tweaking the food given, often the carbohydrate intake, to lower the fasting numbers or see if something in your dog's routine such as an evening walk, is increasing the glucose levels.

What Is The Expected Lifespan For A Diabetic Dog?

With the correct care and insulin therapy,  a diabetic dog has the same expected life span as a non-diabetic dog.

My Vet Says Not To Test At Home, Why Is This?

We have no idea why a vet would suggest this! There is no reason not to home test your dog's blood glucose levels, if you can. Home testing is the best way to keep your dog safe from hypoglycemic episodes, give you peace of mind and help to get your pet’s diabetes regulated. A human diabetic would not inject a potentially lethal drug without testing their current levels first and it should be no different for your dog. Home testing usually costs less than sending your dog to the vet for curve tests and will give you a more accurate reading in a comfortable and familiar environment.

Will My Dog Go Blind?

It is said that around 75% of dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts and lose their sight within a year. This occurs when high glucose levels damage the blood vessels that nourish the retina. Dogs with a regular blood glucose level of 14mmol/L and over, are most at risk. If a dog loses it's sight or develops cataracts, it can be reversed with cataract surgery in most cases. The quicker it is dealt with, the better the chance the dog has of restoring full sight. Luckily, dogs don't rely on sight as a first sense. The majority of dog's that lose their sight adjust very quickly and continue to get around and lead as happy a life as they did before. Speak to your vet if you notice any cloudiness appear in your dog's eyes.

well controlled 12 hour curve example dog diabetes

What Is A Curve?

A curve is a series of tests performed throughout the day to observe how your dog is responding to insulin therapy. By performing a curve, you will be able to see the pattern of glucose levels in the blood throughout the day to determine whether your dog's dosage needs adjusting. Tests are taken at fasting (just before feeding AM and PM meals) then approximately every two hours over a 12 hour period.


Why Does My Dog Yelp When I Inject Insulin?

There could be a number of reasons your dog is unhappy with the injections. It could be that he is picking up on your nervousness and fears. Try to make injection time as relaxed and calm and positive as possible. Offer a treat and praise straight afterwards. Cold insulin stings. Make sure to warm the insulin in the needle by either placing sideways in between your lips or under your armpit for a minute or two before injecting. Never warm the insulin in hot water or the microwave. Inject with the bevel of the needle facing upwards. Many human diabetics say this is a more comfortable way of injecting. Make sure you tent the skin and insert the needle at a 45 degree angle into the centre of the tent. You can watch how others do it on You Tube for guidance. If you hit a muscle or a nerve it will hurt your dog. Do not inject the insulin too slow or too fast, keep it nice and steady. Rotate the injection spot around the area you are injecting. If you continuously inject in the same spot, scar tissue will build up which becomes tender and sore and also will cause poor insulin absorption. Once the injections become a regular routine for both you and your dog, things will settle and you will both feel more comfortable with them.

What Is A Fur Shot? What Do I Do If It Happens?

A fur shot is when you inject the insulin but instead of it all going under the skin as it should, you notice afterwards that your dog's fur is wet. This could be that you simply missed the skin with the needle or the needle has gone through the skin and out of the other side. Don't panic, pretty much everyone who gives regular injections to their pet has experienced this. If you suspect you have given a fur shot, it is important NOT to give another insulin dose as you don't know how much actually went where it was meant to. By giving a second injection you are risking hypoglycemia. Your dog may have high glucose levels until the next dose is due because of the fur shot but a day of Hyperglycemia isn't going to harm your dog whereas Hypoglycemia can kill. Just wait until the next scheduled injection and continue as normal from there.