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Nutrition and exercise are important for every pet, but they are crucial for pets with diabetes. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen can not only help regulate blood sugar, but can also improve your pet’s quality of life. When developing a plan for your diabetic pet, there are a few factors you should consider.
Limit eating to mealtimes. Your pet may be used to having food left out all day, but this isn’t the healthiest option for a pet with diabetes. Frequent snacking can cause fluctuations in blood sugar that can make diabetes difficult to regulate. All those trips to the food bowl can really pack on the calories, too. Instead, try transitioning your pet to two to three portion-controlled meals per day.
Ask your VCA veterinarian for diet recommendations. Many diabetic pets do best on a prescription veterinary diet. These diets are formulated to provide the appropriate calorie intake for your pet and to maintain blood sugar levels throughout the day. Diabetic cats tend to do best with a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, while diabetic dogs often do better on a high-fiber diet. Your veterinarian can recommend the best products based on your pet’s individual needs.
Get moving—but start slow! Exercise is essential to keep your pet healthy and active. But if your pet is overweight or has previously been a couch potato, make sure you build up their activity level gradually to avoid injury. Low-impact activities like walking, swimming or gentle playtime are a great way to improve your pet’s cardiovascular health without putting too much strain on them.
Create a routine for your pet. It can be hard to keep track of your pet’s medications, meals, exercise and daily activities, especially when they’re first diagnosed. The more you can create a routine for your pet—including scheduled meals, medications and regular exercise—the easier it will be to regulate their diabetes and monitor their condition over time.