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Health Tips In Tails Diabetic Dogs Get New Medicine, Dietary Options 
By David Bucknam 

Like humans, certain chronic diseases are on the rise among our canine companions. As dogs live longer, they develop many of the same illnesses as people---arthritis, cancer and diabetes. Indeed, the diabetes rate among dogs has doubled in just a few short years. One in every 200 hundred dogs will develop diabetes during their lifetime, according to statistics recently cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The onset usually occurs in dogs aged seven to nine years-old, and it is twice as prevalent in females as in males. 

Last May, the FDA approved the very first drug specifically for treating diabetic dogs. Prior to the development of this product, the treatment veterinarians could offer on diabetic dogs was human insulin, which is less compatible with a dog’s metabolic system. This new product will be marketed under the trade name “Vetsulin” by its developer Intervet, Inc of Millsboro, Del. “This is a very positive development for millions of American dog owners and their pets,” says acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Lester M. Crawford. “It promises to improve the health and quality of life of dogs who suffer from this debilitating disease.”

Your Dog’s Diabetic Lifestyle

It is important, especially as your dog ages, to be alert for warning signs that diabetes may be present. Clinical signs of diabetes include: excessive thirst, excessive urination, excessive appetite and weight loss despite good appetite—a visit to the veterinarian is imperitive for the appropriate diagnosis.

The initial shock and fear one feels after hearing your dog has diabetes does not have to be frightening. This is not a death sentence for your pet. Much fear is caused by the lack of information on the disease.  The next challenge for you as a pet owner is learning how to adjust your pet’s diet, exercise and medication to support good health. A diabetic dog requires regular veterinary care and partnership to assist you in implementing the right program for your dog for proper nutrition, exercise and medication. 

Diet plays a critical role in keeping your dog’s diabetes well regulated.  Because insulin requirements change depending on the amount and type of food eaten, a consistent high-quality diet is important. Research continues on the ideal diet composition or diabetic pets. However, many vets recommend special diets containing greater amounts of soluble fiber. Research has shown that a soluble fiber slows the absorption of glucose from the digestive system. 

In spite of a more restrictive diet, treats can and should continue to play a part in your diabetic dog’s daily routine .Many pets are accustomed to receiving treats during the day and eliminating them from the daily routine makes your dog unhappy. Healthy treats made specifically for diabetic dogs are becoming more available to meet demand. Many owners even use them as treats after giving the insulin injections as a reward. A healthy diabetic treat is one that has no obvious source of sugar and has either complex grains (Whole Grains) or meat as its main ingredients.

Caring for a diabetic pet requires a strong commitment on your part to your dog, but it’s a rewarding challenge.  Once your dog becomes regulated to their insulin levels and diet, you quickly develop into a daily routine. With the help of products specially formulated for dogs with diabetes, your diabetic dog can lead a happy, healthy and long life. 

David Bucknam is co-founder of The Old Dog Cookie Company, maker of treats specially-formulated for diabetic dogs. Old Dog Cookie Company founder and CEO Junellen (Jef) Bucknam developed Diabetic Dog Cookies for her now 16 year-old diabetic Black Lab, Jetty. Visit or call 888 334 9DOG for more information.

Diane West, Publisher
New York Tails Magazine
(212) 214-0653
"Solid, practical advice for any city-dwelling pet owner." -- Utne Magazine
September 2004  Issue

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