Canine Diabetes - The First 6 Months

For both myself and Ella, the first 6 months after her diagnosis were the roughest. I was faced with two big challenges: learning how to administer her insulin twice a day, and changing her diet and exercise routines. If you’re an owner that just learned that your dog is diabetic, I encourage you to stay on the path that you’re on, but realize that there are changes and challenges ahead.

While it certainly isn’t fun having to give your dog shots every day, the hardest part of administering insulin was finding the right dosage to give her. At first, the vet had her at 4 units per day. This offered a little help, but in 2 weeks she was again having bouts of diabetic ketoacidosis, where her glucose levels were too high. The vet adjusted her levels up to 6 units per shot, then 8, then 12, and now she is back down to 8.5 units. Her levels were adjusted down because she was actually hypoglycemic--her levels were too low (she was receiving too much insulin at 12 units per shot).

This adjustment was made after I had a glucose curve done by my vet, which is a procedure I encourage every diabetic dog owner to do! I wish I had done it at first instead of waiting so long! It seemed that the vet was relying on whether or not Ella got sick as to whether or not they would adjust her levels of insulin.

I also changed my exercise routines with Ella. Instead of a few short walks every day, we now walked at least 4 times a week, with one of those walks a minimum of 1 mile. Ella began losing weight almost immediately once we went on longer walks. When Ella was first diagnosed she weighed 24.7 lbs. and she now weighs around 17.5 lbs. If you have a diabetic dog, chances are that they probably need to lose a few pounds! It was great to see the healthy changes in Ella, and it only took a few alterations in my own life to insure that she gets back to her happy and healthy self!

The first 6 months was full of ups and downs. I was initially very encouraged to see Ella come home and begin running around again. The down part was when she got sick again, and again, and I continued to make changes to her insulin, diet, and exercise. It’s been nearly a year since Ella was sick, so I encourage all of you to just hang in there, you will find the routine that works for you and your diabetic dog!

- Rob & Ella