Managing a dog with diabetes

The vet suggested I buy a glucometer to test Zeki’s blood sugar myself, at home. So we did and it has been a bit of a learning curve getting a reading from Zeki. The vet nurse was pricking the pads on his paw for a blood sample but when I tried it at home I couldn’t get any blood out of his paw and he really didn’t like it much. So I thought I’d write about my experience for other dog owners out there with diabetic dogs.

Zeki is a newly diagnosed diabetic. He’s a 12-year-old miniature poodle, desexed and weighs about 7kg. He’s always been a healthy, active dog and has never been overweight. The past 6 months he was put on steroids for a flea allergy and I’m convinced that as a result, he developed steroid-induced diabetes. His pancreas is shot and produces no insulin at all so he needs daily injections.

Today is the first day I have begun testing his blood sugar at home and the results are not good. His levels are very high and I’ve had to give him about twice as much insulin as I would have had I not known his blood sugar. His blood glucose levels ranged from  14.8 up to 24.2. A normal dog would have a blood sugar reading of between 3.5 – 7.5. I took Freud’s blood sugar this morning just to check everything was in order and his reading was 3.9 and this was less than two hours after his breakfast.

I have decided to start cooking Zeki’s food again since the dog food diet seems to have made his diabetes harder to manage. Tonight he had lentils and pearl barley with vegetables. His final reading this evening was the lowest it has been all day so I’m hoping this will make a difference.

I have wasted countless glucose test strips trying to get blood out of Zeki. I have tried various places on his body including the ear, pads on his paw, base of the tail and his rump. The best area is around the base of his tail. He is not bothered by the pricking and it’s the only place I can get a decent sample.  My strategy is as follows:

  1. Shave the hair off a small section so you can see the skin. I found the blood was mixing in with the hair and making it difficult to get a decent sample size.
  2. Apply a heat pack to the area to get the blood flowing.
  3. Prick the skin and gently rub from above the prick down towards it to encourage the blood to flow. Once a bubble of blood appears, apply the test strip.

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