Dear Daisy Dog
The veterinarian diagnosed my dog Maggie with diabetes and recommended insulin injections twice daily. I am a diabetic, and I do well with only a pill. Why can’t I treat Maggie the same way?
You and Maggie have different forms of diabetes.
It seems that you, like 90 to 95 percent of humans with diabetes, have non-insulin-dependent, or type 2, diabetes. Pills enhance your body’s sensitivity to its own insulin and may increase insulin secretion.
The remainder of diabetic people have insulin-dependent, or type 1, diabetes, a condition in which the body doesn’t produce insulin.
When we dogs develop diabetes, it’s almost always this type. Like humans with insulin-dependent diabetes, we dogs need insulin.
Unfortunately, insulin taken orally is degraded by the digestive system before it can be absorbed into the blood. So our insulin is injected, usually twice daily.
Dog insulin is identical to pig insulin, so many of us dogs receive injections of a porcine insulin called Vetsulin, marketed as Caninsulin in Europe and Australia.
Another option for us dogs is human insulin, which differs from canine insulin by only one amino acid.
In managing Maggie’s diabetes, it’s also important to establish a consistent regimen of activity and meals, feeding the diet your veterinarian recommends.
Insulin injections are easy to give, so I’m sure that very soon, you’ll be bragging to your friends about your new skill – and Maggie will feel better, too.