Monitoring canine blood sugar on a regular basis is a critical part of caring for a diabetic dog in order to ensure the dog’s diabetes is under good control. Maintaining good blood sugar control helps keep the diabetic dog healthy and avoids potential complications such as vision loss and kidney failure.
Recommended canine blood sugar levels
Blood sugar levels are measured in milligrams per decilitre of blood or mg/dL. Maintaining a good balance allows your dog’s systems to function well and avoids the potential damage that elevated blood sugars or low blood sugars can cause. In caring for a diabetic dog, optimal blood sugar range is between 100 to 180 mg/dL. These levels of blood sugar are within the normal range for dogs and help keep your diabetic dog healthy.
Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar
Hypoglycemia can be just as problematic as elevated blood sugars in a diabetic dog. 90 mg/dL is considered to be the safe low end of canine blood sugar levels. As the blood sugar continues to fall, you risk your dog becoming disoriented and unable to function. Low blood sugars can also cause seizures and various systems, such as vision and bladder control, to fail. If the low blood sugar is not resolved by feeding quick sugars, your dog is at risk of death. Once a proper blood sugar level is achieved, your dog should return to normal function.
Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar
Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar levels are readings of 180 mg/dL or higher. If your dog is consistently above this level, there are various systems within his body that are at risk of failure if they continue to have to fight the high blood sugar levels. When your dog’s blood sugars are high, he will be lethargic, drink a lot of water and urinate frequently. The excessive thirst and high volume of urine are his body’s way of trying to rid itself of the extra sugars in his system. These high levels of sugar put added stress on his kidneys as they try to flush the high sugar levels out of his system. High sugar levels also make his heart work harder and put a strain on his cardiovascular system. High sugar levels also draw in sugars to the eye, causing the lens of the eye to crystallise and form cataracts.
Frequency of blood sugar testing
Testing your diabetic dog’s blood sugar is an important part of maintaining good control of his diabetes. Depending on your dog, his activity level and his overall health, your veterinarian may recommend testing anywhere from once daily to once a week. A dog who is highly active, such as a hunting dog or a dog competing in agility may require once a day testing to ensure his blood sugars are remaining at a healthy level, where a dog who spends most of his days just relaxing around the house may only require testing once a week as his blood sugars will remain at a more consistent level.
Maintaining proper blood sugar levels is a balance of proper medication, proper diet and appropriate exercise. Each of these elements are part of the equation in caring for a diabetic dog and helps him to lead a long healthy life.
Hope this info helps
Till next week
Dr Ruan Bester
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Royal Veterinary Centre
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