Wondering which blood glucose monitoring system to use for your diabetic dog?
Feeling low because your dog has diabetes mellitus. You are not alone in this, an estimate of 1 out of every 500 dogs have canine diabetes.
Normally, during the digestion process, food is broken down into many parts so that it can be used by the body. Carbohydrates or starch is converted into sugar in the form of glucose. From the intestines, glucose gets absorbed into the blood and that’s how energy is provided to the body cells of a dog. However, glucose can only find a way into most cells with the presence of hormone insulin. Insulin is produced by some particular cells in the pancreas, which is a special gland situated near the intestines.
What is diabetes mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus or you might have heard of it as sugar diabetes, it is caused by lack of available insulin in the body.
When insufficient insulin is being produced by the pancreas, it leads to failure of the body cells to be able to respond to insulin. As result of this, the body cells of a dog cannot absorb enough glucose and the blood glucose concentrations get too high.
Signs of diabetes in dogs
In animals, the symptoms of any condition are referred to as the signs or clinical signs for that particular condition. However, the clinical signs of diabetes in dogs appear as the result of high blood glucose concentrations.
Not being about to absorb enough glucose, exceeds the glucose threshold of the kidneys due to the excessive blood glucose. In this situation, glucose is excreted in the urine. This leads to extra loss of water from the dog’s body, making your diabetic dog drink more water and urine more as well. Glucose is an important source of energy, and it is being wasted. Hence, even though a diabetic dog may eat more than it usually does but still lose weight.
Hence, some of the typical signs of diabetes in dogs are urinating too much, drinking too much water and increase in appetite but still lose weight.
Diagnosis of diabetes in dogs
The presence of clinical signs suggests that your dog may have diabetes. However, as it is possible that the same signs are symptoms of another disease, for this reason, make sure to take your dog to get examined by a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will conduct all necessary tests to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes.
Hence, it is important that you take your dog to a veterinarian if it shows signs like drinking a lot of water, frequently urinating, is always hungry and had lost weight even though it has been eating a lot.
Your veterinarian may start with taking a urine sample to identify if glucose can be found in the urine and/ or if there is a urinary tract infection.
Next, to confirm the diagnosis of diabetes in your dog, your veterinarian will take a blood sample and identify the level of glucose or sugar in the blood sample of your dog. If the veterinarian found the blood glucose level to be consistently higher than what is normal, then this may represent that your dogs’ pancreas is not producing enough insulin. However, alternatively, this may be an indication of your dog’s body to be resistant to the insulin its pancreas is producing. Both possible cases indicate that your dog is suffering from diabetes mellitus.
Moreover, your veterinarian will also be checking your dog’s general health status, to just be safe and rule out the presence of any other possible disease or infection. This is also very important because infections and few other diseases can become a hurdle to the treatment of your dog’s diabetes.
Blood glucose monitoring system
For a diabetic dog, a stable level of blood glucose should have the range of 5 to 12 mmol/l (90 – 216 mg/dl), for the most of the time period in 24 hours. It is very important that the level of blood glucose in your diabetic dog is maintained to fall in the recommended range. Hence, your veterinary surgeon might ask you if you want to and prepared to keep a watch on blood glucose levels of your diabetic dog at home. This can be done in two different ways and you should discuss both ways with your professional help and decide which would be the best option for you.
One way is to use blood test strips, similar to the ones used for testing of urine can be used as well. However, the second way is to use a handheld glucometer instead. This might not always be true, but usually, handheld glucometers are found to be easy to use and are totally worth your investment. You can ask your veterinarian for advice and help you find a glucometer model that is best suited for you and your dog’s needs.
When collecting and testing a blood sample during a home monitoring session, the blood is normally collected using an earflap (pinna) of your dog. Moreover, when taking the blood sample make sure to consider the following steps for an easy and quick experience.
- Warming the earflap of your dog makes it easier to collect a drop of blood. Hence, make sure that your dog’s ear is warm before taking a sample and if it is not then you can hold it between your hands for about one minute for desired results.
- Quickly prick a clean, hairless part of the ear using a sterile hypodermic needle or a lancet.
- When a small blood drop appears, collect the drop onto the glucose test strip.
- Gently but firmly press a piece of cotton wool onto your dog’s ear unit it stops bleeding.
- Lastly, read the test strip or insert the sample into the glucometer as you are instructed.
You can measure dog’s blood glucose concentration using the blood glucose strips. You are required to place just a drop of blood on the pad at the end of the strip. The pad is wiped after the specified amount of time and you can check the color against the chart on the container. Make sure to read all instructions provided before you start using.
However, when using a glucometer, a drop of blood is placed on the given strips and next the strip is inserted into the glucometer. That’s how the blood glucose concentration will be shown. However, make sure to carefully read all the instructions provided before use.
Managing diabetes in dogs
The reality is that the underlying cause of diabetes cannot be completely cured. Your diabetic dog is likely to need a lifelong treatment for diabetes. However, you can successfully monitor and manage your dog’s diabetes and general health with the insulin therapy, the correct, healthy diet and getting necessary exercise.
The aim of treatment for your diabetic dog is to restore your dog’s quality of life. This will mean trying to stop the signs of diabetes mellitus and reducing the possible diabetic complications without leading to hypoglycemia. However, poorly managed or untreated diabetes mellitus may lead to a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis. If it comes to this condition, then it is an emergency and your dog needs immediate treatment.
Hence, it is very important to continue monitoring and managing your dog’s diabetes to give it the best possible quality of life.