​Puppies with Diabetes

Posted by Michelle for PetTest, AAHA Certified Diabetes Educator on Sep 15th 2023

​Puppies with Diabetes

Puppies with Diabetes

Puppies with diabetes…we often hear from the veterinary world that it is rare but we have seen more puppies diagnosed with diabetes mellitus over the past couple years. When Lesley Whitham, a member in our Facebook group with a diabetic puppy Fox needed help with food quantities this led me to update the food calculators to include all growth stages of puppies. Fox has thrived due to Lesley’s diligence and he is now a happy and healthy adult dog!

I interviewed Lesley regarding care for a puppy with diabetes and you can read it below. But first I want to quickly go over some differences between care for a puppy vs. and adult diabetic dog.

What are the differences between a puppy with diabetes and an adult diabetic dog?

  • Puppies go through growth spurts and growth hormones can cause insulin resistance, making blood glucose target range harder to obtain.
  • Monitoring blood glucose levels is a very important part of managing canine diabetes but when you have a diabetic puppy you need to monitor BG closely due to hormonal fluctuations and weight gain.
  • Puppies require higher calories, higher fat and high protein for their bodies to grow properly. Higher fat is normally avoided in adult diabetic dogs.
  • If puppies are very young they require more than two meals per day as well. Per the AKC under 12 weeks need to eat four meals per day, from 3 – 6 months they require three meals per day, and at 6 months they can be fed twice per day.
  • Females need to be spayed but it is suggested hold off on spaying until after their first heat. This typically does not apply to a puppy adopted from a shelter since they spay/neuter before they go home.

Here’s the interview with Lesley:

MM: How old was Fox when he was diagnosed with diabetes?

Lesley: Fox was diagnosed around 10 to 11 weeks we rescued him when he was 12 weeks old as the previous owners couldn’t manage the whole process due to family issues.

MM: Do any of Fox’s siblings or parents have diabetes?

Lesley: The reason we heard about Fox was because my work and close friend had the father to the litter and had also adopted Fox’s brother, our other friend had the mum, we haven’t heard of any siblings having diabetes.

MM: What symptoms did Fox have before diagnosis?

Lesley: Fox was the runt of the litter and didn’t feed well from the start, remember them saying they had to get puppy milk to make up for him which helped him put on weight. When they adopted him out it was only a couple of weeks after that he had lost all the weight he had managed to put on, that’s when he was diagnosed with diabetes.

MM: Did Fox have any other illnesses?

Lesley: He only weighed 1.2 kg when we got him, luckily, he wasn’t sick with anything else which was a blessing but the vets said it would be a long hard road. We weren’t going to give up on him though and decided we would take it day by day with him, just because he was so small. Taking it day by day sounds harsh but I found I was able to handle this more emotionally knowing we had managed to get through another day with him, as he started to grow and gain more. I was then able to go week by week and so on, and here we are 18 months later.

MM: I know how difficult it can be to get nutrition in adult diabetic dogs down, how hard was it to feed a diabetic puppy?

Lesley: Feeding him was a challenge at first as we weren’t sure we were feeding him right; he still needed that 3rd meal but only giving him insulin morning and night was a challenge. We did think at first he was insulin resistant as his levels were pretty high and took quite a while to come down, but we would check for ketones and he would be fine. We did end up going higher with the amount of insulin recommended just to counteract the higher fat diet he was on plus having his midday meal. Also, that is where you came along and helped us with the correct amount of food to feed him, which was a blessing. Also letting him have a scrambled egg with a little bit of chicken for his midday meal really helped him with his weight gain too and his strength, must admit he was a little fighter. Doing regular glucose checks not just at mealtimes but throughout the day helped too, especially when he started putting weight on as it gave us a better idea where he was at.

MM: Did you have a difficult time with testing blood glucose levels?

Lesley: Fox was great with the testing, we were more anxious with him being little, it was a lot harder giving the insulin at first as he had no fat on him, we would just cuddle him more and tell him we loved him and this was going to help him. As he put weight on, it became a lot easier as he didn’t cry as much. That was the most upsetting part.

MM: Are there more vet visits when you have a diabetic puppy?

Lesley: We were able to work with our vet, at first we would take him every two weeks just to be checked over but once he started gaining weight, looking healthier and his levels started coming down we dropped it down to every month and now we just go in when needed. We did take him for his yearly vaccinations and they couldn’t believe how well he had come on.

MM: You have two diabetic dogs, Fox and Mulder…how hard is that?

Lesley: Having two dogs with diabetes is a challenge especially at mealtimes, with Mulder being the larger dog so he has more in his bowl, we do have to watch them as they will try and eat each other’s even though they are not side by side. If one becomes picky with his food you can bet the other one will become picky, they’re now both on the same food just different amounts, Mulder now likes his Kibble with water whereas Fox likes his soaked in a little bit of water then drained. Now to get them both to eat all their meal, I read a comment you put that you blend the freeze-dried treats and mix a little bit in with their kibble, now this is a game changer as they both love it, so thank you for that.

MM: How did Mulder do when you brought home Fox?

Lesley: We were lucky with Mulder when we brought Fox home that he took to him, we had looked after our friend’s dog for a few weeks so we knew Mulder would be fine with another dog in the house, so this didn’t affect his glucose levels at all, in fact I think it give Mulder a new lease in life.

MM: Do you have any tips or words of wisdom for caregivers of newly diagnosed diabetic puppies?

Lesley: With any diabetic dog never be afraid to ask questions as no question is too small, I know I’ve had some mental blocks and have asked questions or advice, we are all here to help or just to listen if someone just wants to talk as it can become overwhelming Read up on information, take the DDO course as that is full of information, work and talk with your vet, (if your vet is understanding), taking regular blood glucose checks not just at meal time but at midday helped us get a picture of what was going on with a fox especially as he was still growing, we only changed his insulin dosage when a curve was done, his first curve was done at the vets but he was anxious and so his numbers were high, we did another curve a couple days later at home which were better, still high but better than at the vets, we then sent the numbers in to our vet who then would get back to us.

Fox and Mulder for Puppies with Diabetes Blog mtm

A big thank you to Lesley Witham for taking the time to answer questions!

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please start a conversation below.

For a printable version of this blog click here.

Until next week stay comfy, don’t stress and you got this!

Michelle Miller-Matlock

AAHA Certified Diabetes Educator

Founder/Administrator of DDO: Diabetic Dog Owners University

Administrator of Diabetic Dog Owners on Facebook

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