My Pet’s Diabetes Is Not Controlled — What Now?

Diabetic Cat Eating
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When you're caring for a diabetic pet, it is crucial that you know how to prevent and handle diabetic emergencies. But what do you do when your pet's diabetes is not well controlled? Fortunately, there are some simple strategies you can use to help get things back on track.

Establishing a consistent daily routine is a key to successfully managing your pet's diabetes. Feeding the same healthful diet at the same time each day, coordinated with insulin injections that are usually given twice daily, helps keep your pet's blood sugar under control. Routine exercise and regular monitoring are also essential.

Recognizing Poorly Controlled Diabetes

It can be frustrating, though, for owners who establish these appropriate routines to have pets whose diabetes seems to be poorly controlled. Signs of poorly controlled diabetes include:

  • Excessive water drinking
  • Excessive urination or accidents in the house
  • Constant hunger and begging for food
  • Weight loss
  • Cataracts
  • Blood sugar levels consistently greater than 300 mg/dL despite insulin treatment

Diabetic dogs and cats may have additional medical issues that can lead to poorly controlled diabetes, and there are other dietary and insulin factors that can also be problematic.

Review the following checklists with your veterinarian to ensure you are doing everything possible with your pet’s diet and insulin to achieve good control.

Dietary Factors

Ensure that your pet is being fed an appropriate diet. In general, a canned high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet is recommended for the best blood sugar control in cats. Diabetic dogs can be managed on a wide variety of food types, but your vet may have a specific suggestion for your dog.

Feed the same type and amount of pet food at the same time every day. If your pet is given treats, discuss what kind and how many are appropriate for your pet's insulin schedule. Keep any treats consistent from day to day.

Discuss all foods your pet is receiving. Other sources of food (e.g., human food, prey, etc.) or treats or meals given in the middle of the day or between insulin injections can cause large blood sugar fluctuations, leading to poor control.

Insulin Factors

There are many important things you can take into account to make sure your pet’s insulin is working as well as possible. It can seem daunting at first, but getting in the habit of handling insulin properly can help make your pet’s diabetes management go smoothly. Here are some tips that can help.

  • The properly prescribed insulin must be used with the correct insulin syringes.
  • Insulin must be stored properly. Refrigeration is often necessary, and freezing and heating can be damaging to insulin.
  • Insulin must be handled properly. Some insulin products require shaking, while others must not be shaken to preserve activity.
  • Insulin must be administered properly. Bring your pet’s insulin to your next veterinary appointment and demonstrate how you mix the insulin, draw up the insulin and inject the insulin into your pet. You should rotate the area on your pet’s body where you inject the insulin every day.
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