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Discussing Diabetes
Discussing Diabetes
with Dr. Barry

Take a deep breath. Diabetes in dogs is almost always manageable, and, with good care and monitoring, your diabetic dog can live a normal, healthy lifespan. In this series of articles, I’ll help you navigate this aspect of your dogs life; help you see potential early red flags; day-to-day with canine diabetes; and others. I disuss a must have supplement called Diavetin in the article called, "The Scoop On Food And Supplements."

To Your Pet's Good Health,      Barry Miller DVM

What you need to know about Canine Diabetes
What you need to know about Canine Diabetes



Unquenchable thirst and sudden increased urination are two important signs of Diabetes in your pet.

As your pet's blood sugar levels increase the body's natural defense is to dilute this damaging blood sugar level by causing increased thirst and water intake.  And with increased water intake comes increased urination which is an attempt of the body to eliminate the toxic level of sugar. 

The most effective treatment for Dogs and Cats with diabetes is insulin injections.


For dogs, we recommend Vetsulin injections. Typically they are given twice a day every 12 hours.  Your Veterinarian will prescribe the correct dosage and determine the proper dosage on a routine basis.


For cats, we recommend two different insulin, Prozinc which is usually given two times a day, every 12 hours or Glargine which typically can be given as a once a day injection.

Diet is very important part of treatment. For more information about the important of diet in controlling diabetes please see the section: The Scoop on food and Supplements


Deciding on the correct dosage of Insulin:

The process of deciding the dose usually involves giving an initial dose of insulin and then a few days later your veterinarian will retest the blood sugar level of your pet, this is called a glucose curve and schedule.  Depending on the blood sugar level, your pet's dose may have to be adjusted. It is important for you to know that during this initial phase of giving insulin, your pet may experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.

The goal is to achieve a standard dose that can be given to maintain a healthy glucose level, which is:


In dogs: 100-150 mg/dL and 100-300mg/dL in Cats.   


 As I mentioned earlier, you may hear the term, Glucose Curve from your Veterinarian. Glucose Curves are used to decide the best dosage for your pet.


What is a Glucose Curve?

It is a graph that determines the ideal dose of insulin based on minimum and maximum levels of blood sugar.


We will discuss giving insulin injections in the section called: "Making peace with giving Insulin injections".  We will also discuss how to store and handle insulin.


 What to do if your pet experiences hypoglycemia or blood sugar levels lower than 70mg/dL:


The symptoms of hypoglycemia are:

• Low Energy

• Weakness

• Loss of coordination

• Disorientation

• Unusual behavior

• Vision impairment

• Lack of appetite or increased hunger. 


What to do:


It is important to treat these symptoms immediately by giving your pet a sugar source which will help their blood sugar level increase.

For example corn syrup on your finger.

If your pet fails to respond take your pet to an emergency center or your veterinarian

Making peace with your pet's insulin injections
Making peace with your pet's insulin injections



Insulin will need to be stored in the refrigerator. Do not shake the bottle of insulin, roll it between your two hands.  If you shake the bottle of insulin you can denature the protein or in other words, destroy the effectiveness of the insulin.

Making Peace: 

Holding a needle in your hand is awkward….

Actually giving the injection can be even more awkward and scary….

Start with becoming familiar with the syringe and needle.


If it is your first time giving an injection, take time to pull back on the syringe and suck air into the chamber then press it out.

You can also use one syringe to test giving an injection. Simply fill the syringe chamber with water and take an orange (which can be similar to the feeling of entering the skin of your pet) and inject the water into the orange.

Notice how much pressure is needed for the needle to enter the skin of the orange and how much pressure is needed to evacuate the chamber of water into the orange.  I recommend doing this multiple times until you feel comfortable with giving the injection.


Hopefully you will see how small the actual needle is and that typically this is not too painful for your pet. 


Actually giving Insulin:


Where do I give the injection?

Once you draw up the dosage of insulin I recommend that you give the injection in the following sites alternating between right and left sides while slightly changing the actual point of injection slightly up or down and forward and backward:


1. in front of the shoulder at the point of the neck

2. at the back of the hips toward the tail base.


Why do I need to alternate the site of injection each time?


It is important to alternate the sites that you give the insulin injection and also move a little forward or backwards to vary the injection spot . For example, you can give it on the right back hip and then in the evening or next injection give it in the left hip.  Next day, give it in the shoulders alternating right and left. 


By alternating the injection sites you can avoid soreness in the area and prevent your pet from experiencing discomfort.


You will need several supplies including but not limited to: Lancets, a glucose monitor, glucose test strips, syringes and needles.

I recommend two glucose monitors: Alphatrak and Ipet.


Frequently asked Questions about Needles:


Where do I dispose of the needles?


Each state has needle disposal laws and you should check your state laws.  A needle disposal unit is recommended.


Can I reuse needles?


It is recommended to use a needle only once and are intended for one time use.  The needle itself dulls with each use and can cause more pain and trauma to the injection site. The other concern with re using needles is once the needle enters the skin and then is re entered into the bottle of insulin it can carry contaminants and contaminant your bottle of insulin. The needles are far less expensive than the cost of replacing a bottle of insulin.

Is there a magic wand?
Is there a magic wand?



Is there a magic wand or pill?   

No, currently there is not a magic pill that treats Diabetes in dogs.  Insulin is the only method to treat Type II Diabetes and I have rarely seen a dog once placed on insulin ever get off of insulin.

If the dog is overweight and loses weight I have seen cases where it is possible to decrease the insulin dosage.


In cats, the recommended insulin is Glargen or Lantis because it can often be given only once a day. This is a much easier to handle treatment schedule for owners and their cats. There is a certain brand of insulin that can be given to cats called Prozinc but this insulin usually has to be given twice a day. In some cats I have even seen that by feeding Purina DM some cats have achieved a healthy weight and maintained a normal blood sugar level without further use of insulin.

As all cats are different, it will be important to work with your veterinarian to achieve optimal health for your pet with diabetes.

The Scoop on food and Supplements
The Scoop on food and Supplements




Diet is especially important in the successful treatment of diabetes.  Obesity must be considered an important part of the treatment of diabetes in our pets. Obesity can increase the symptoms of diabetes and cause complications in treatment.  If your pet is overweight, I recommend changes in diet and increased exercise to lower your pets weight.

Cats and Dogs with diabetes require prescription diets.

For cats

The best prescription diet is Purina Pro Plan DM. It is similar to the human version of the Atkins diet, a low carb diet which helps to stabilize blood sugar.

For dogs

I recommend Purina DCO, Hill's WD or a comparable prescription diet for dogs with diabetes.

Again, these diets are specially formulated to help your pet maintain nutritional balance and energy while keeping their blood sugar at normal levels.

Frequently Asked Question about Diet:

Can I give treats?

What's life without treats! So, Yes, but you must be careful of the treats you purchase. Lean Treats are a fantastic option because the main ingredient is chicken which is protein and has low sugar and carbohydrates. An overweight dog is prone to more problems when they have diabetes and you do not want to give treats that cause spikes in blood sugar or weight gain. Again, a diabetic diet is specially formulated to help your pet maintain a nutritional balance while keeping their blood sugar at normal levels.

Recommended Supplement:

I am a firm believer in combining both western medicine with eastern medicine. I value the effectiveness of vitamins and supplements. I do recommend the following supplement for the successful treatment of diabetes:

I recommend, DiaVetin.  This Supplement helps to regulate blood sugar so there are less spikes and dips in your pets sugar level.

DiaVetin™'s unique formulation of 24 carefully chosen ingredients and is designed to support the health of both dogs and cats. These naturally occurring ingredients include a combination of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, digestive enzymes and powerful antioxidants that work synergistically to promote healthy metabolism and function in diabetic animals.

Why provide Diavetin for your pet?:

A reduced caloric diet, regular exercise patterns, and dietary supplementation can contribute to:

•  Protective effects against DNA damage induced by oxidative stress
•  Normal digestion in the GI tract via pancreatic enzyme supplementation
•  Slower rate of sugar absorption from the GI tract
•  Improved blood sugar metabolism and improved glucose tolerance
•  Improved immune function
•  Improved fat metabolism

Because of the variety of beneficial antioxidants found in DiaVetin™ we strongly suggest that you discuss use with your veterinarian while the insulin dosages are adjusted. Pets that are on insulin must adhere to strict dietary regulations, as certain vitamins and foods may cause a dangerous reaction when consumed. Therefore we highly suggest consulting with your veterinarian before beginning your animal on DiaVetin™.

DiaVetin™ uses key Natural Ingredients:

Highly potent antioxidant carotenoid found in algae, shrimp, crab, lobster, and salmon. Protects pancreatic beta cells from damage, and reduces inflammatory compounds that drive many chronic diseases. Protects light induced oxidative damage of photoreceptors.

(Trigonella foenum graecum L. seed)
Contains saponins that inhibit cholesterol absorption and production and may stimulate insulin production. Seeds are high in fiber, which slows carbohydrate digestion and absorption; thus helping to improve blood sugar control.

Cinnamon Extract
Cinnamon is an insulin mimetic and insulin sensitizing agent, decreasing serum insulin due to enhanced glucose uptake. Lowers plasma triglycerides and elevates plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and may act as a natural statin.


Recommended by Dr. Barry!