When my dog, Frankie, was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus at the end of 2007, I did what many people do when they learn their pet has a chronic, incurable illness.

I wept.

Ok, maybe a little more and a little more noisily than many people.

Then I started researching the disease on the internet, which made me weep even more.

Four years [I updated this in December, 2011] and some solid, scientific evidence later — much gathered for two stories I wrote for Your Dog, the newsletter at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University — I feel confident enough in my knowledge of the disease to debunk the most common, widely disseminated myths, the ones that got me the most upset about Frankie’s diagnosis.

Rather than overload you with technical details — one of the things that can drive a stressed-out pet owner crazy — I’m not going to provide a great deal of medical data here. To learn more about diabetes in dogs, and for a very supportive forum, go to k9diabetes.com.

Myth #1: Your dog got diabetes because he was fat

Obesity is a health hazard in animals — as it is in humans — for many, many reasons. There’s no question that it can hasten the onset of canine diabetes and make it more difficult to treat. But, unlike feline diabetes, which is similar to type 2 diabetes in humans, canine diabetes is akin to human type 1 diabetes. That’s the type that’s not caused by obesity.

What causes it, then? According to Dr. Lori Huston, who had an excellent post on the topic on Dancing Dog Blog:

The current thought is that genetics plays the biggest role in the development of diabetes in dogs. Although it is worth noting also that certain drugs (like corticosteroids) can increase the chance of diabetes occurring, as can a severe case of pancreatitis.

I should add that the corticosteroids part of this explanation, which I came across a while back, makes me a bit crazy. Frankie (who was never overweight) did spend about two week on corticosteroids when he injured his back; two months later, I noticed the first symptoms of diabetes. It’s probably irrational for me to think two weeks of drugs were responsible for the disease — but far be it for me to be completely rational. Or for drugs to be more dangerous than manufacturers claim.

Myth #2: Diabetes can be reversed by diet sometimes

Sorry, but no.  Since diabetes in dogs is not caused by obesity, and the pancreas has completely lost its ability to produce insulin, there’s nothing you can do except inject your dog with insulin. For the rest of his life. People used to tell me all the time, “I knew a cat whose diabetes was turned around with diet.” A cat is not a dog.

Trust me, false hope is not a good thing.

Myth #3: Your dog will go blind immediately

If canine diabetes is not controlled there’s a good chance that your dog will develop cataracts pretty quickly. If it is controlled, it’s likely to be more of a slow process; a lot of dogs get cataracts with age. Frankie is 12 1/2  and he has had diabetes since late 2007 and doesn’t have cataracts yet.

Moreover, surgery for cataracts is common — if expensive — and once removed cataracts don’t come back. Nor is blindness as much of a big deal for dogs as it is for humans, but that’s a whole other topic.

Myth #4: It takes only a few months to get the disease under control

Everything I read on the internet — and, yes, everything I heard from my vet — led me to believe that it’s easy to establish the correct type and dosage of insulin to get your dog stabilized. Six months into testing , which involves repeated — and expensive — glucose curves, Frankie still wasn’t stable and I was at my wit’s end, certain that Frankie was an anomaly and that he would never get regulated.  He did, fairly soon thereafter, but not without my having gone through additional trauma because I thought Frankie was a particularly tough case.

For some dogs, the right fix can be found fairly quickly, but they’re the anomalies. The average  time for getting your dog regulated is seven months.

Myth #5 Your dog will hate you because you’re giving him injections

I have had people try to assure me that the insulin injections couldn’t possibly hurt Frankie. If I get the needle in correctly, that’s true. But sometimes I don’t and I’m sure the shot does hurt; I accidentally pricked myself with a needle and said many bad words.

Frankie has cringed and made piteous cries and tried to escape for several days after I’ve given him an injection. As a result, I now put him on a leash anchored by my foot to prevent him from running away  or squirming. But, because they’re accompanied by treats, Frankie is generally ambivalent about his shots. He does this little approach-avoidance dance, where he runs forward and then retreats.

And you know what? Even on the days that he cringes for a second or two, Frankie still loves me. He just doesn’t love getting shots. Tough luck, buddy. They’re for your own good.

Myth #6 Your dog’s quality of life will be compromised and his lifespan will be shortened

If you give your dog regular exercise, a good and consistent diet, and the required number of insulin injections at the required time intervals  — and monitor blood sugar to adjust the doses  —  there’s no reason that he shouldn’t continue to be his stroppy self (yes, Frankie, I’m talking about you) and live out fully the rest of whatever life span is typical for his size/breed.

Myth #7 Your quality of life will be compromised and your lifespan will be shortened

I’m not going to lie. I wish that Frankie didn’t have diabetes. Being home at a certain time every day to administer injections is a pain in the butt. And because it’s expensive to find a pet sitter who gives shots, Frankie’s disease pretty much ended my full-time career as a travel writer.

But I’d already cut back on that career when air travel became a bigger pain in the butt than giving a small dog injections.

Turns out, my new career as a dog writer and blogger has expanded my universe as much as travel ever did.

And because regular exercise is now prescribed for Frankie to keep his diabetes under control, and because — what a terrier! — he refuses to take long walks unaccompanied by me, I get more regular exercise, which is bound to prolong my lifespan, if I don’t screw things up by drinking and eating too much.

Hey, Frankie’s diabetes never required me to give up my food writer job.

101 thoughts on “Seven Canine Diabetes Myths”

  1. Viva is having her allergy shots bi-weekly now, and monthly as soon she is up to the full dosis. She is a big dog, hardly noticing that small needle. I can only try to understand what it means to do this daily on a small dog, and also continiously monitor for the correct dosis.

    Maybe I am twisted. But still, it makes me happy to read this. Because you do what you have to do, to ensure Frankie a good life. No diabetes and insulin shots can get in your way.

    And like you say, he has expanded your horizon even more then you could have imagined. Every dog has a gift. Also the diabetic ones.

    1. Thank you for your nice words. One of the lessons Frankie — even before his diabetes — taught me was that I had the potential to be a caretaker. When I lived in NYC, I couldn’t even keep plants alive!

    2. Georgia, my rat terrier lose all her weight, take her to vet, she’s got diabetes. I have diabetes, She is 15 , do I put her through this or do I tell her that she had a good life and I love her and she will be with me when I go???????

      1. I’m so sorry you’re going through this with sweet Georgia, Jeri. It’s hard to know what to tell you. If you get Georgia stabilized, she might feel better quickly and have several good years because 15 isn’t so old for small dogs. On the other hand, if her quality of life is not good and the shots are difficult and she has had a wonderful life with you, it’s okay to say good-bye too. These decisions are so difficult. I wish you all the best, no matter what you decide.

  2. I really admire all that you do for Frankie with his chronic illness. Sounds like your commitment to him is a driving force in your planning and this is a choice I’ve made too with my planning for things (even without chronic illness of the pooch). It’s funny, but I find the reaction of “other people” to my reduction in travel or schedule adaptations due to my pup’s particular issues to be pretty strong and sometimes negative. Friends and family get frustrated when I choose not to go on vacation for more than a couple of days because I don’t want my guy to have to stay at doggie daycare for more than a limited number of nights (just doesn’t seem fair to him). NOW, if I also had to administer shots every day, oh my…..

    1. Thank you. You’d be surprised what you get used to, and it sounds like you already make plenty of adjustments for your pup. People who don’t understand — well, that’s their problem. I’m just as annoyed with them (probably more) as they are with me 😉

  3. Frankie is lucky to have you! I have had to deal with many other doggie ailments–Addison’s and epilepsy to name two–but not diabetes. I’m glad to know you’ve walked the trail (although not glad you had to) and should I ever need info and support, I know where to go…to your blog.

  4. Knowing Edie like I do, she is a role model for people who do right by their dog at the same time every day. She is devoted to giving Frankie his shot even if it means missing happy hour (just kidding).
    She made adjustments to accommodate Frankie’s diabetes and who could ask for anything more?

    1. You’re totally right about happy hour, Karyn. Having the shot schedule infringe on the cheap drink/snacks schedule is very irritating.

  5. I found your response to Deborah Flick endearing! Of the many titles Frankie has, I think I like “small furry life guide” the best:)

    Thank you for sharing (and dispelling) this list of anxiety-creating myths you had to move through when Frankie was diagnosed. Many people sit in this place and this post always is a very useful, helpful approach to take when bad news is delivered.

    1. I have occasionally called Frankie my furry muse but, having written a post called What Would Frankie Do?, it occurred to me he is a life guide too!

      I think admitting your worst fears — and the fact that you’re fearful, period — helps, so I’ll be pleased if this brings anyone some solace. Thanks, Mary!

  6. I’ve never dealt with diabetes in any of my dogs. But thank you for you post. It does make the prospect a little less scary to hear about someone who’s been through it.

    We never know what we’ll have to deal with when we let a lovable, furry creature into our lives. But somehow we cope. We just do what we have to do.

    If you had told me five years ago I’d be capable of administering acupuncture needles to my last pup when she had cancer, I would have fainted dead away.

    I admire the underlying, “You mean I’ll have to give needles to Frankie every day for the rest of his life? Well, ok.” in your post.

    Maybe Frankie said to himself when you brought him home, “You mean I’ll have to walk on a leash all the time and eat when someone tells me for the rest of my life? Well, ok.”

    1. It was a long journey before I came to the “well, ok” part — but yes, we do end up doing what we have to do because really, what are the alternatives? Thanks for your comment (Frankie says he doesn’t mind the leash part, but would prefer more food).

  7. Oh no, I’m away for a while and I miss a diabetes post! I’m happy to report Jasmine had her 3 year anniversary of her diabetes diagnosis last week, and she is still going as strong as ever, yay! Thanks Edie for highlighting all the misinformation that is out there that I also had to wade through. I wish I’d had this post to read 3 years ago to help put my main concerns to rest – it would have saved me quite a bit of research (oh who am I kidding, I still would have read everything I could find – what a geek!) 😉 Hope all is still going well with Frankie too XOXO

    1. Lovely to hear from you! I considered contacting you to let you know about this post but wondered if you were sick of diabetes stories. Foolish me! I never am — obviously.

      So glad to hear that Jasmine is doing well. Frankie is fine too. Fingers crossed: He still has about three months of Vetsulin and I’m going to ask my vet to get me hooked up with the “emergency” supplies so that I don’t have to try to switch him.

      Hugs to your big hairy girl from me (but not Frankie; he’s definitely not a dog hugger).

  8. I’m still going through the sad dark times with my little guy, Teddy.
    A few of the shots have hurt and now he hates shot time. He wiggles and squirms and cries even when the needle hasn’t touched him yet. He’s blind and hates shot time. Poor baby. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all worth it. Currently we only feed him once a day so we only have to give him one shot a day, but if shot time was easier Teddy could enjoy meals twice a day. I don’t mind the time it takes.

    1. Oh, please don’t despair! I still go through periods where Frankie hates his shots and acts like I’m about killing him. I sometimes need to keep him on a leash. But you know what: It’s just 5 seconds out of 24 hours and you’re saving his life. Dogs live in the moment, so he may hate those 5 seconds but I’d bet he still loves the rest of the life you’re saving.

      Are you giving him a treat at the same time as the shot? Try giving it before, so he’ll associate the shot with good things. I see Frankie do this funny approach avoidance thing where he comes towards me because he wants the treat and shies away because the shot may prick.

      Giving the shot gets easier too. You’ll see.

      1. I appreciate hearing that it will get easier! Our little guy was great in the beginning, but now goes nuts when we try to do it. I’m usually crying long after he does! We’ve tried ‘man handling him’, treats, different positions, etc. but he still bucks like a bronco at shot time. Promise it gets better? please! 🙂 thanks

        1. Oooh, you’ve got a little manipulator (just like I do)! There is no way you are hurting him every time so he is just loving the attention that he is getting from you. I’d bet if you stopped feeling upset he would too; he’s taking his cues from you.

          Good luck!

      2. Hold dog with face backwards under left arm so he cant see you and give shot one handed it was a lifesaver for my sweet chihuahua!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Hi Eddie my 6 year old female Doberman was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and diabetes. Tomorrow is our demonstration for the insulin n I have been so stressed n sick about the whole process. All I do is cry thinking my poor dogs life is going to change as will mine. Thanks for this post. Found or on google n I felt connected somehow. I’m glad Frankie is doing better. I hope my Tia doesn’t freak out but she’s such a drama queen… Oink how this is going to work. I have a million n one questions that my vet beats around the bush. Ugh so stressful. Thx again Genna

    1. I promise, Tia’s life won’t change once she feels better — and yours will be fine too once you settle in. I’m glad you connected with the post. I was very upset when Frankie was first diagnosed but it really does get easier all the time.

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you,
        I am so nervous today is her demonstration on how to inject the insulin. Is the only place to test for the glucose curve in the dogs ear? I know Tia will no cooperate with that. And is it true that we must give her the insulin the same time every single day? What if we skip an injection accidently? I have all these questions and my vet. just seems to tell me don’t worry… how can you not worry?
        But thanks a million for this post. It really really helped me sleep!

        1. You need to give the insulin at roughly the same time every day (in my case, twice a day). It can be annoying but you’ll get used to it. If you accidentally skip an injection, the symptoms (like thirst, etc.) will show again. That’s it. You’ll get back on track. It’s far worse to give too much insulin than too little — always remember that.

          I don’t give Frankie blood tests; he’s too little to tolerate them, but I gather the ear is the easiest place to take the blood. I test Frankie’s urine twice a day and that’s worked fine for the last two years.

          Of COURSE you’ll worry at first. And then you won’t. 😉

  10. I just had the demonstration, I practiced giving the injection with water…she was fine! I was so nervous though, Tia felt it & looked at me funny.
    Thanks so much for this! I’m posting this on facebook for people to read in case their dog was diagnosed & they feel anxious.
    Thanks so much!!! I really appreciate all the info. I’m going to ask my vet if I can do the urine sample instead of the blood…Tia will not cooperate.
    Thx a million!

  11. Just when I was convinced my boy Cooper would be better of living with the vet ,I happened upon your website ,we are into week four of Coopers treatment and life as I new it has been a blur .The guilt I have felt over hurting him and believing I may have caused this has resulted in lots of tears and continues sleepless nights (although Coop has been sleeping like a baby )I just wanted to say a big Thankyou your words have been so encouraging ,i not only feel less helpless and hopeless i now feel that with patience and practice there will be light at the end of the tunnel and I am determined to create a comfortable routine that will eventually see Coopper return to the happy healthy boy he was before we ever heard about the Doggy “D”word .So again Thankyou Edie you have been a saving grace .
    Regards Tracey

  12. Thank you for this info. My 11 year-old Toy Fox Terrier was diagnosed with diabeletes in November, 2011. It seems that her glucose levels are now under control with 4mm shots twice a day according to her fructoasmine and glucose readings.

    I too also thought that catracts was a formality with diabetic dogs – statics show 75% will get catracts and go blind withing 6-12 months of diagnosis of diabetes. So far my dog Hunter shows no sign of catracts.

    Is Frankie still catract free?

    Thank you again!

    1. Hi Dave,
      I’m glad this information was helpful and I’m glad that you managed to get Hunter’s glucose levels under control so quickly — that’s terrific!

      It’s been more than four years since Frankie was diagnosed with diabetes and he still doesn’t have cataracts. His eyes have gotten a little cloudy lately but that’s par for the course for a 12 1/2 year old dog.

  13. Another quick question…what was your intial insulin injection for Frankie when you found out that he was diabetic (i.e. how many units per day was he injected) and what was the correct dosage that finally got his glucose levels in check?

    Hunter started with 2 units (twice a day) and she is now to 5 units (twice a day) and Hunter weights 8 pounds. Thank you!

    1. I don’t recall what Frankie (who weighs 10 pounds) started with, but I think 2 units sounds about right. Don’t worry about the initial amount required; over time I’ve adjusted Frankie’s insulin dose based on urine glucose tests and he’s been up as high as 5 units twice a day. These days he’s getting about 3 1/2 to 4 1/4. Once Hunter gets adjusted she may be able to get less. Or not. I do think the urine tests are helpful and not nearly as invasive as blood tests, especially for a little dog.

  14. I’m so glad I found this site. My dog was just diagnosed this past Thursday
    Night. I came home and she was lifeless and wouldn’t eat. Called my vet who
    Met me St his clinic and after lots of testing her sugar was over 500. She also
    A heart condition which we gave been treating for a year now. I worry about
    How long Che has because she is twelve now. She is a Min Pin. she is very aggressive
    So he couldn’t keep get there to stabilize her and just gave her fluids and sent her
    Home. She barely eats or drinks and sleeps slot. Shots have been interesting. First morning
    I managed to throw it across the room when she jumped and thus morning I managed to
    Prick myself with the needle after injecting her (hope there aren’t any problems from that).
    She is in 5 twice a day to start. I am hoping for the best but with her age just don’t know if
    She has seven months to wait for this to regulate 🙁

    1. I’m sorry to hear about Che’s diagnosis but I promise things — including the shots! — will get easier. (There shouldn’t be any problems from pricking yourself as long as you didn’t inject yourself with insulin.) Some dogs take a lot fewer than 7 months to regulate; that’s just an average. She should be feeling better soon once the insulin starts lowering her blood sugar.

      Good luck!

  15. Thank you very much for posting. I just recently got a rescue dog – a chubby Miniature Pinscher named Precious – and found out she is a diabetic. I have to give her shots and at first she just took it, but now she is getting wise and tends to try to run away or squirm. That is a fantastic idea to put her on the leash and anchor it with your foot! I am going to try that on her next shot. Great tip. I appreciate it.

    1. Good for you for adopting a special needs dog and sounding so philosophical about the responsibilities you didn’t know you were taking on. Good luck with the shot giving — and with Precious. All the best in your new life together.

      1. Thank you! Truthfully I feel like she rescued me. And I know what you mean about Frankie showing you that you could be a caretaker. My thoughts exactly…

  16. Thank you for this…..my sweet 8 year old chi-weenie Dottie was just diagnosed. I made the mistake of looking in all the wrong places online and was convinced I was going to lose her too soon and it was all my fault.

    1. Oh, Cathy — no! It’s genetics, and you can’t change that. It’s been more than four years later and Frankie’s diabetes is still well under control. He’s still perky and mischievous. Any problems he’s having now are due to his age — he’s at least 13 — not his diabetes.

      Good luck! I’m sure Dottie will be fine. Just hang in there through the initial phase of getting the right dosage of insulin established. For me, that was the toughest part.

  17. My JRT was just diagnosed and I found your words comforting. I have been trying to read everything I can on canine diabetes. My problem is that my baby also has a heart murmur, COPD, Allergies and IBS. Some of the medications he was on, can’t be taken with insulin, so it is going to be a constant struggle.

    1. Aw, that’s really tough, but you are clearly doing the best you can for your sweet baby. Best of luck — I hope you find some combinations of drugs that work for you and your JRT.

  18. I started giving my dog Bunny insulin injections a few weeks ago – it seems to be getting worse rather than better. Her health is doing well, but our daily struggle is driving me nuts! It’s amazing how strong a little dog can be – and fast! I’m interested in your “leash holding” method. Would you please give me a few more details or helpful tips? I’m guessing one foot holds the least, and your other bended knee is on the ground. How do you keep her rear end from swing around while you’re using one hand to raise a little skin, and the other holds the needle? Sorry if I sound like an inept fool – but holding my dog is like chasing a greased pig! …and the pig is winning! Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

    1. Yes, you’re right, I put my foot on the leash, so I have both hands free. I bend down and just grab the scruff of the neck with one hand, and use the other to put the needle in. I don’t think Frankie’s little butt wiggles around when I do this, though; that’s not his style 😉 I’m sure you’ll figure it out — it gets easier, I promise. And as long as her health is improving, that’s all that counts.

      Good luck!

  19. Our min pin Red Baron was just recently diagnosed with DM. We have been using the test strips to check his urine. Is a totally negative reading good or bad? As for the shots he takes them like a champ.

    1. A totally negative reading is great in theory, but give a teensy weensy bit less insulin — since you have a min pin — when you have negative readings to avoid hypoglycemia. Great that the Red Baron is taking the shots like a champ, and good for you for taking such good care of him!

      1. Thanks for your advice.We will try it and see if it brings the urine readings up.We are in process of getting a blood tester hoping to get a better handle on the situation.Until then we willtest his urin. Once again many thanks for your time and advice. Best of luck to you andFrankie

        1. You’re welcome. If you can do blood testing, that’s the most accurate. I chose the urine strips because I didn’t always want to be poking on the little guy, but technology has improved since Frankie was diagnosed, more than five years ago (hard to believe)!

  20. Great to run across this website to better inform me about diabetes in dogs. My 11 year old malte-poo was diagnosed about 1 year ago. At first I was like – no way can I give him shots, but I got over that really quickly. My husband a paramedic gave him his first few doses with me watching. I was giving it in his muscle a few times but now I have it down pat. It never seemed to bother the dog – I think he feels better once he gets the shot so he puts up with it. In fact you tell him it is time for his shot and he comes over and lays down on his side until he gets his treat when finished. What a good boy – don’t know what I will do without him. Thanks again for all the information.

    1. You’re welcome; I know that “no way” feeling. What a good boy indeed! Good luck with keeping him healthy and happy.

  21. My Pearl was just diagnosed with diabetes.
    My second dog to do this. Stoney never got regulated. He passed away before. He was 10 though. Pearl is only 5. I noticed the signs. Haven’t started injecting yet. Going to talk to the vet about the pen. Any thoughts?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Good for you for noticing the signs this time. I’ve never tried the pen so I have no advice on that but I wish you the best of luck with Pearl. It takes some time to get regulated; be patient. It’s well worth it.

  22. I am so glad I ran across your post. Our 3 year old malti-poo was suffering from allergies. She was given a steroid shot. By the second day, I called our vet (who is wonderful). He asked about her eating and drinking. I explained she was very lethargic. The first time I called him, he said it could just be because of the shot. the second time I called him, he told me to bring her in to the office.

    His second clinic does not have a blood machine, but because she was dehydrated, he gave her an iv and drew blood. He told us to watch her through the night and if needed he would run the blood work the next day. He felt that something was wrong with her, so even though he was originally going to wait til the next day, he ran her blood work. He made a call to us at 10:00 pm. to tell us he wanted to see her first thing the next morning and to not wait.

    When we got to the clinic he let us know she had had a severe allergic reaction to the steroid shot. She may have also had something else underlying, but right now there is no way to know. Her liver was off the charts and her blood sugar was close to 600’s. He kept her at the clinic for over a week before she was stable enough to send home. Her liver is still not where it is supposed to be. We are giving her insulin 2 times a day. That is not the hard part. We took her back today to have her levels checked. Her insulin was 507 again. Urgh. I was frustrated and worried. Again our vet is awesome, he said it is going to be ok. He gave her 1 insulin at the office, and told us to up her dose at home to 3 two times a day. He also gave us the glucose monitor (without charge) so we would not have to make the drive to his office. He gave us his cell phone number and wants us to call and leave him a message if he does not answer. He wants us to check her glucose with a prick in the ear (since she is not regulated yet). This has freaked me out more than giving her a shot (I have had to give other animals iv’s so I guess this just feels a 100 times easier). The glucose in the ear actually hurts her. I was showing my husband how to do the glucose in case I am not home, and her sugar had come down to 296 (still to high), but much better than the over 500 in his office.

    Your blog has made me feel so much better. I kept looking for answers on how long a dog could live with diabetes. We are still not out of the woods yet, since we have to be concerned about her liver. Our vet told us we had to get the blood under control because it was more serious than the liver. He says we still have to watch her constantly until everything is under control.

    I am glad to know your dog is doing well. I actually have quit looking at other websites now that I have read your blog.

    Thanks for keeping your post going, it has been a tremendous relief.

    I just have to keep faith that everything will fall into place. Our vet has said once the steroid is completely out of her system (another 2 weeks), things should go smoother.

    1. How scary for you! I’m glad you have a great vet who caught, diagnosed and treated the problem immediately.

      And I’m glad this post could help you. Frankie has other health problems — he’s about 14 now! — but his diabetes remains under control. In fact, the specialty vet I took him to about what I assumed were problems in his eyesight due to cataracts — they weren’t — said diabetic dogs don’t necessarily form cataracts if their blood sugar is kept under control and Frankie’s was. It was a nice compliment.

      Your story confirms that steroids are frightening.

      Good luck! I’m sure with the excellent care you’re giving her your malti-poo will do fine.

  23. Now I’m depressed. I didn’t know diabetes caused cataracts in dogs. My 10 year old dog, “my daughter” as I refer her, was just diagnosed and is on her first week of insulin. The more I read, it just gets worse and worse. Almost wish I didn’t read that. I thought exercise and diet would cure her. I feel hopeless… 🙁

    1. It’s rough at first but I promise, it gets to be routine, like any other type of caretaking. And cataracts are not inevitable, though older dogs do get them in general. Hang in there. You’ll see.

  24. My dog Benji was just diagnose with diabetes in July of 2013. At first it was hard to give him insulin shots. I saw a add for easy injector and you put the syringe needle into injector and press a button and the needle goes in and then you inject the insulin. He is very good with that never gives me trouble now. It is so much easier to give it to him now. I know a lot of dog owners have trouble with giving insulin to dogs. they squirm and cry. My dog was the same way. I hated giving it to him. Now I am very happy with the injector and I know he is too.

    1. What a fantastic idea — thank you for sharing. Can you tell me what you looked under to find this easy injector, or which brand you use?

  25. I don’t know if it is too late to post to this, and I have no idea what HTML tags and attributes is. I appreciate your post so very much, thank you.

    My dog Buster, a Bichon, was diagnosed a couple month ago. Although his numbers still are not good, he is like a different dog. He runs like he is having fun and I use to have to drag him for a walk. He is more playful and not as lethargic. Buster is 6 years old, and even strangers would say things like “It must be hard having an old dog” and “what is wrong with your dog”. This was way before he was diagnosed with diabetes. I feel so bad that I did not pick up the symptons earlier. Buster had all the signs for a few years and they just got worse. I feel so guilty for not having done something earlier, he has missed out on a quality life because of my ignorance. I will warn dog owners that if there is any changes in behavior. If the Vet says it is normal or nothing is wrong, get a 2nd opinion. Even Vets have a hard time to put the symptoms together. Sorry for my poor writing, but it is hard to write this as I am crying so hard. People do tell me that if I hadn’t let my dog get over weight, this would not have happened. I had him on a weight management dry food for years and people say obviously you feed him too much. Even my extended family tease me about Buster. I already hurt bad enough for Buster. I am able to do the curve tests myself and injections are no problem. I am so concerned that because I did not figure this out earlier, he may have other health issues. I do not even know you will ever get this, but I wanted to let you know that it helped, even though I still feel like it is my fault. I am pleased Buster is getting energy back, but we are still working on figuring out his dosage of insulin. Thanks again.

    1. Oh, Julie, of course it’s not too late to write (and I’m not sure where the html tags come in). Please don’t feel bad about the past. You’re on the case now, and that’s all that counts. And weight isn’t a factor with canine diabetes (as it is with feline) so just forget about that one. All the best of luck with Buster and spend the time you would feeling guilty playing with your newly energized dog instead!

  26. I have an 11 year old dachshund Jamie he was 8 years old when we rescued him.I noticed he was losing weight and drinking a lot of water. Immediately took him to the vet for blood work, came back blood sugar was 487 and he has Cushing’s disease. Was started on Vetsulin gets injections twice daily. Cataracts developed pretty quickly, 4 months into this nightmare he is now totally blind. The navigating around the house and yard has been very sad to watch. Has anyone had any experience with both diseases together?

    1. I’m very sorry to hear Jamie (and you) are having such a rough time. Frankie didn’t have Cushings but it seems to be associated with diabetes because Frankie was often tested for it. As far as the blindness is concerned, Jamie should be able to cope soon as long as he doesn’t have any cognitive impairment; dogs are remarkably resilient and it’s often harder on us than it is on them. Best of luck. Things will get better, I promise, but I know first hand how difficult it is in the beginning, trying to get the medication right.

  27. I’m very sorry to hear about Miss Ellie’s problems. I too am wary of steroids; as I’ve probably mentioned, the onset of Frankie’s diabetes came about not long after he took steroids for back problems.

    I appreciate your helping people with the insulin shots; it really is no big deal once you get the correct dose established.

    I wish you all the best of luck with your sweet Miss Ellie (love the name). Thank you for coming by to contribute to this discussion.

  28. My dog just got started on the insulin we went 2 days on 3mm now 2 days on 4 and just today he said 5mm because his blood sugar is off the meter so high and they want me to leave him with them on Monday this is Friday I hope everything gets ok they also wanted to put him in a emergency Hosp. 1,000. a night he is ketacaid now every you spell it dehydreded I hope he gets ok have you heard of all this happing?

    1. There are so many different stories — getting regulated in the beginning is really hard, and more stressful for the owner than it is for the pet. It sounds like your vet knows what he is doing. Try not to worry, and all the best of luck. It gets easier, I promise.

  29. Thank you so much for the very positive Article about the myths associated with canine diabetes! The information we’ve been reading about cataracts and blindness have been overwhelmingly negative and discouraging. Your article was the first to give us hope. Our little Einstein is only 7, and just diagnosed. It was bumming us out to think of him blind for many years. Thanks again, you’ve given us hope.

    1. You’re very welcome. I’m glad I could help. The fear of my dog going blind was the thing that upset me most too. Frankie’s eyes didn’t get cloudy until he was about 14 years old.

  30. Hi Edie,
    Just found your blog – great! I’ve got a 15 yr old min poodle who’s been diabetic for last 5 years. My little girl is now blind and gets around the house and my yard just by routine. Her littermate is also 15 but not diabetic. Also have a 10 yr old standard poodle. I am retired and am able to be at home and have established a routine for them and me. Dilemma: My father, (not! a dog person – who thinks I’m crazy to disrupt my life to be home for shots, feeding etc) wants me to pack up my dogs – meds, etc., and go stay at his house for a little vacation. He lives about an hour away. At this point, I think it would be cruel to my little blind, diabetic, (who is extremely regulated by the way) to take her to a new environment – new routine – also I am worried her she will be stressed and her sugar will get out of whack. I plan to tell my father, thanks, not this is not a good time. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have w/the two 15 olds plus I am stressed! So this will not be a vacation. What do you think? Selfish? Or best for the animals? Thanks

    1. Hi Linda,

      It doesn’t sound like much of a vacation for you and definitely not one for your dogs. My Frankie didn’t enjoy having his routine disrupted either, and when he was stressed, I was stressed. As long as your father isn’t ill, I vote that you stay home with the pups. If you can get someone you trust to take care of the dogs for a day, maybe you could go for a short visit. If not, do what’s best for your dogs — and you!

      1. Thanks for the reply. It’s been decided. We are staying put!! P.S. My dad is in perfect health – he thought I needed a change of scenery since I’m by myself- but we talked about it tonite and he agreed: He wants what’s best for me and that equals my first priority of my gang. P.S. – which was, just a few years ago, 6!

  31. Hi, Edie. So very glad I found your blog! My four year old min dach terrier mix who is about 9 pounds when healthy was diagnosed four months ago. She started showing signs i.e. excessive thirst and urination, lethargy, so I took her in within a week of the increased thirst. She had fullblown ketoacidosis by the end of week two and spent ten days in the hospital. That’s after a week and a half of going to the vet twice a day every day for testin and treatment. I’m still trying to pay off that $6000 bill and don’t have the money to pay for more testing such as glucose curves and things the vet is recommending! Maizy is currently on 2 1/2 units of Vetsulin twice daily, but she is still drinking and peeing like crazy! She needs to have surgery because I never had her “fixed” and going into heat can cause it to flare up. Also, I cannot get her to eat the prescription food. She loves home cooked meat such as chicken and liver. She lost so much weight when she was so sick that I’ve been giving her whatever she will eat to try and get her weight back up at least a little. But she now has a pot belly like she’s bloated but her ribs and spine still poke out like she’s starving. The testing in her ear hurts so bad I refuse to do it but, again, I cannot afford to have it done at the vet. What are the urine strips you spoke about? And do you have any suggestions for getting her to eat the right food at the right time? Does the excessive thirst go away immediately when their insulin is at a good level? On a positive note, my sweet Maizy takes her shots like a trooper. I say it’s time for your medicine and say a little prayer. She hunkers down and let’s me dose her with very little squirming and moving away. Then I “give her five” and we go search for the treat that’s always there after her injection. Is it okay if I increase her dose by half a unit each day and see if her symptoms get better? I hate to let her down by not getting her stable, but the money just isn’t there. My husband wanted me to put her down, so money is the big issue. If it was up to me I would just get another credit card and max it out. Thanks for all the info you’ve provided and for the confidence boost that people like me really need. Our babies deserve the best care we can provide when loving them and spoiling them isn’t enough.

    1. Oh, Cathy, I’m so sorry you have been going through this! The urine strips I used were Diastix Reagent Strips by Bayer which you can buy over the counter, cheap; I never tested Frankie’s blood. And, to be honest, I never used the vet prescribed food; I used a good quality kibble so Frankie could have a balanced diet, but it was always food that he liked. I topped it with home cooked food sometimes. As I learned through trial and error, it’s all about the insulin. Absolutely the thirst should go away when the insulin level is right. I’m so glad Maizy takes the shots like a trooper. You don’t have to max out your credit card. For the time being, do try increasing the insulin just a little at a time, being careful of hypoglycemia. Have Karo syrup on hand in case Maizy seems woozy and drunk, both signs of hypoglycemia. Best of luck! And if you feel like it, let me know how it goes.

  32. Our 8 yr.old Corgi just got diagnosed…going to the Vet tomorrow to learn how to test and give shot…we are trying the Vetsulin that has an epipen type injector…hope all works out…Thank you for your great words..

  33. my dachshund Charlie was diagnosed with diabetes two weeks ago….i left him with a friend while i went home for Christmas to the uk….she left his treats…..in a bag on the floor and he ate the lot giving him pancreatitis and he nearly died. But two weeks on….i am injecting him with two shots a day….watching his food intake and walking him as usual. He is nearly thirteen years of age and I don’t want to lose him yet. He is responding well….but cataracts have formed really quickly…just hope that he won’t go blind….he is to old to have an operation to remove them. I read online that there is a new drop called LANOSTEROL…which has been developed in america which can cure cataracts in dogs and humans…..a fantastic find but I am afraid that it is not on the market yet. your blog has given me hope….thank you

    1. It’s a tough diagnosis but good for you and your positive attitude. Remember, if Charlie does go blind — which I’m afraid is likely, given the quick cataract formation — it’ll bother you a lot more than it does him. Dogs are remarkably resilient. I haven’t heard about Lanosterol. Hope it comes on the market sooner rather than later. Best of luck to you and seet Charlie!

  34. Thanks for your article. I have to take my little dog in to have blood work done, tomorrow. I called my vet with the symptoms she is having and she thinks it is very possible. I am so sad and afraid. I love her so much, and she is such a baby. I’m hoping we cope as well as you and Frankie.

  35. Hi Edie! I was happy to find your site – very informative! I have a 13 jack russell who developed diabetes this past summer and we were having a tough time getting her BS regulated. She’s now up to 9 units 2x/day. At first, it seemed like it was under control, but now she’s started leaking again (aka, unknowingly urinating) in the house, etc. But, as others have said the constant testing is expensive. My vet hasn’t given us the option of at home testing…is that something you recommend? Do you recommend urine strips, and if so, could you suggest a brand please? The other problem is that at first the vet suggested she had hormonal incontinence (on top of diabetes) and put her on Proin. But when I asked him for sure that she had that, he said no, not sure. So, since it seemed the Proin wasn’t helping anyway I stopped it. She’d had a really bad kidney scare about 5 years ago and I’m very hesitant about giving Cleo any possibly extraneous meds, you know? But the peeing thing…can that come back after you initially get the diabetes under control and does that mean we have to up the insulin dosage again? Thanks so much, I know this is a lot of questions!!

  36. Nearly a week into our journey into insulinland and am delighted to have found your site. Just had to inform my editor that my lifestyle has to change now my saluki x has been diagnosed (freelance press photographer). Would do anything for Billy so that isn’t a problem, downside is it is going to be tough financially as my earnings have dropped and it’s going to be a struggle to make ends meet. But luckily my mother, who is in her 80s is going to help me.

    1. Aw–thanks for writing and for being such a committed caretaker to Billy! My life changed quite a bit when Frankie was diagnosed — I used to be a full time travel writer — but, ultimately, in a good way. I wrote a dog book, dog blog, started pursuing other writing interests… You never know where this journey will take you. Best of luck to you and Billy.

  37. I was wondering what you feed your diabetic dog? I am using hills science diet w/d but $30.00 every 12 days is just getting to expensive.

    1. I gave him high quality kibble, not the Science Diet. The important thing is giving the insulin and not feeding between meals.

  38. Edie-I’m so happy to have found this website! My 10 year old Miniature Schnauzer, Maxine was just diagnosed with diabetes this week. I am devastated! But I love Maxime more than I hate the diagnosis. I’ve done 2 injections of insulin and she doesn’t seem to mind at all. My vet showed me how to grab a big fold of skin from the back of her neck to give the shot. I am worried about the timing of the daily shots. It is impossible for me be home at specific times. I work different hours on weekends than during the week, and sometimes have to stay late which makes me get home later than the scheduled time. In other words, I get home at 5:00 Monday- Friday, but Saturday and Sunday I get home anytime between 11:30 p.m. & Midnight. Morning injections would not be feasible. Any advise?

    1. First, I’m glad you’re prepared to give your sweet Maxine the help she needs! It’s important to keep the schedule regular because otherwise her blood sugar can rise and be difficult to regulate again. Can you get someone to come in and give Maxine her the shots on the weekday schedule on the weekend?

      1. No. The situation is complicated. My only time to give the shot is at night. I can only hope the hour or 2 difference on weekends won’t cause too many problems. Thank you for the reply. I’ll keep you posted on how it all works out for Maxine.

          1. We go back to the vet for the first follow up visit Friday. I will get advise then. Just thought someone reading my comment might have a similar situation. I do see that some of the posts were several years old. Is your dog still doing okay?

          2. It’s not an active blog anymore, though I do post occasionally — and always answer questions. I’m afraid I had to say farewell to Frankie but it had nothing to do with the diabetes. He lived and thrived for five years after the diagnosis. Best of luck with your pup.

  39. My 5-year old Pomeranian was diagnosed as diabetic on July 4th, 2016 and now has to get 2 injections of Vetsulin daily. I just found your post and several of my questions were answered in your article. Many thanks for sharing this information and encouragement.

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful! I’m also very glad that Vetsulin is back on the market. The manufacturer took it off for a while, and I had to have it sent from Canada because it was what worked best for Frankie. I can’t even begin to tell you the hassles at customs. Best of luck to you and your Pomeranian.

  40. My 11y.o yorkie-bison was diagnosed a year ago. We totally focuse on putting her glucose in control. We managed it pretty fast and her behaviour now is like she is 5 years younger. It’s only tough during summer vacations when we travel south to warmer climate but this we have managed also to put under control. Actually when her feeding /injecting becomes a routine all is quite easy.

    1. Congratulations on bringing your Yorkie-Bichon back to such great shape in spite of her health challenge and making it part of your routine! That’s wonderful news all around.

  41. Hi Edie,

    My 11- year old Dachshund Ava was just diagnosed with Diabetes in December 2016. She has been on Vetsulin for the past 4-5 weeks. I don’t have any problems giving her injections twice a day and have no problem adjusting my schedule to meet her needs. I started noticing that something wasn’t quite right with Ava in July after we returned from NC. She had be drinking, peeing and panting a lot for over a year and the Vet checked and she was fine. Needless the say my poor Ava has been at the Vet at least once a month for the past 7 months for one thing or another like Hook Worms, wellness, etc., On her alone in the past 7 months I have spent $2045 at the Vet. That doesn’t include the other 2 dogs that have been to the Vet since July. I have 2 other dogs to consider, right now we haven’t been able to get her regulated. Her sugar is in the 4-500’s and is currently on 7 units twice a day. How long will take to get her regulated? I have one blind dachshund Isabella already which is no big deal she lost her sight to PRA when she was a year old. Ava has been her eyes now she will most likely lose her vision. The Vet also if she can’t get regulated she could have another underlying issue like Cushings. As much as I love Ava, I don’t know if letting her go on in this condition is fair to her…

    1. Hi Amy,
      Well, it took me seven months to get Frankie regulated so don’t give up on Ava on that account; Frankie was a healthy dog with no underlying conditions and it just took a while. As far as blindness is concerned, once you get Ava regulated, she won’t necessarily get cataracts. It sounds like you love her very much. If diabetes is her main health problem now, give her some time.

  42. My almost 12 year old Oreo was just diagnosed with diabetes. I am overwhelmed to say the least and am not getting the hang very well or fast of giving the shots. So my neighbor has been coming over to help. When I am stressed, I get jittery and cannot focus and getting the syringe to the 4mm mark is stressful. My vet never mentioned what others have been talking about with the easy injector or epi-pen. Is it more expensive? Oreo has cataracts too. I am horrifed he will go blind. I don’t cope well with stress and this has me nearly destroyed. What will he think? Dogs are not dumb. He would know something has happened. And he will feed off of my devastation too. I cant see myself trying to hold in the tears. My vet just says she doesn’t know if he will go blind. I’ve just lost my coping mechanism. To top it off, he has Cushings Disease, pancreatitis and Vacular Hepatopathy. Her first goal though is to get the diabetes in line. Then she will address the Cushings. She is a great vet but very very calm and how can you be calm with all of this? His lab values on blood work were really bad. I asked her if there is hope and she said yes. How long does he have? She didn’t know. His abdominal ultrasound wasn’t too bad considering all that is going on. He has had 4 injections so far and today he seems to feel better. But that could change tomorrow. I feel like the only pet owner who has a dog with so many issues. I adore him but am so stressed about this that I can’t enjoy him. And if I hold it all inside, I will crumble so I do cry in front of him. I can’t help it. Have you heard or known of other dogs with mulitple issues? I feel so alone. She hasn’t talked about the possibility of blindness. Am I being silly for thinking he could escape it? You can be honest. Thank you for your blog and reply.

    1. Aww, Suzie, virtual hugs to you. Lots of dogs have multiple issues; in your case, it sounds like all are related to your Oreo’s diabetes. Take one day at a time. This is all very new. You’ll get the hang of the shots, I promise. It’s okay to cry. Dogs are not dumb but they are far more mellow when it comes to adjusting to illness. Deep breaths. It’ll get better.

      As for the blindness, if Oreo already has cataracts his vision is likely to get cloudier. But he will adjust if he does lose his sight. It will be a lot harder on you — imagining that he’s upset — than it is on him.

      And you’re not alone, that’s for sure. There is a forum for diabetic dogs that you might want to join: http://www.k9diabetes.com/forum/

      All the best to you, Edie

  43. Hello,
    My 7 year old Bichon Maltese Oliver was doagnosed with diabetes on Monday. I am a nurse do I am not ignorant about the disease but when it is your fur baby all reason goes out the window. I do not like giving him his insulin but I do it…..I am using human needles as they are significantly smaller and almost painless for him compared to what the vet provided.
    Many of his symptoms have resolved but I find him to be so tired all the time. He just wants to sleep….have to convince him to go for walks. I am getting a glucometer tonight which I hope will shed a bit of light on what his levels are doing throughout the day but I do not want to be poking him unnecessarily either. Is it normal after diagnosis to be tired for a bit. Is it due to exhaustion of not feeling well for a prolonged period of time? Should I be worried something else is going on?
    Giving hima snack does not perk him up so I don’t believe he is experiencing lows.

    Any insights would be appreciated


    1. Hi Karen,
      I know getting a diabetes diagnosis is tough but I’m sure it will get to be routine after a while. Oliver is lucky to have his own private nurse to care for him! I honestly don’t know about the symptom of being tired but you just got started, so I wouldn’t worry too much (well, I would, because I’m a worrier and obsess about everything but it doesn’t sound objectively worrisome). Every dog is different and I’m not a medical professional so if you’re still having a problem in a few days, I would ask your vet. Since you’re getting the glucometer, you’ll have the numbers to report. Best of luck! Edie

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