Managing diabetes in an elderly pet can be quite challenging. Pets face many obstacles when they become ill with diabetes and require a higher level of commitment than many pet parents may be accustomed to. At the onset of diabetes, pet owners may simply notice an increase in thirst or urination.  In dogs, panting may be frequent and the dog might just seem to be running hot. It is not uncommon for pets with diabetes to need to urinate in the middle of the night, sometimes more than once and accidents in their bedding is more common during this time too. Once a pet is on insulin, some of these symptoms or at least the frequency of the symptoms tend to ease up, but it can take some time for the pet to regulate.

Vets will typically curve the pet to gauge their sugar levels throughout the day. Curves can be stressful for pets and pet parents because it requires the pet stay at the vet for 8 hours or more while monitoring persists. Curves are important for vets to understand spikes in insulin levels as well as low points.

Diabetic pets typically require daily doses of insulin shots, typically twice per day. Most vets will start with a relatively low dose of insulin to start and then check the pets glucose levels frequently over the course of a month or so, to determine the right dose for the pet. This constant testing and tweaking the dose of insulin can go on for months if not a whole year. Some pets are very difficult to regulate their insulin and it is not uncommon to see glucose levels in the 400-600 range in an unregulated pet.

During a pets course of diabetic treatment, pet parents must be available to their pets to administer these insulin shots on a regular schedule. It can mean a drastic lifestyle change for some pet parents, especially those who work or have active social lives. Diabetic dogs typically require insulin shots at 12 hour intervals, and they must eat before they receive their dose of insulin. This means if you wake and feed your pet at 6:30 am, you must administer the second dose of insulin at 6:30 pm each day.

In addition to the time commitment of caring for an elderly pet with diabetes, there is considerable cost associated with caring for an elderly pet with diabetes. Most diabetic pets require monthly refills of insulin and needles, as well as regular medical care while regulating the appropriate dose of insulin for your pet. Diabetic pets often have other complications as a result of high insulin, including cataracts, glaucoma and other illnesses that are the result of insulin levels that remain unregulated for too long.

It can become very expensive for pet parents without insurance. The good news is, an elderly pet can live a long and happy life with proper maintenance and routine medical care. For more information about diabetes and what to look for if you suspect your pet may be showing signs, visit the AMVA for more information.

Early care from a qualified veterinarian can make all the difference in your pets quality of life so if you suspect diabetes, talk to your vet as soon as possible.

Should you need help paying for your pet’s medical treatment and care, we are not accepting applications at this time, but you may contact The Pet Fund at 916-443-6007 to inquire about funding for non basic, non emergency care. If you qualify, payment would be made directly to your veterinarian.

We highly recommend pet insurance for parents of elderly pets. Visit our pet insurance facts page for more information about pet insurance and other products that have helped our elderly pets live longer, better lives.

Learn about different types of foods that might be appropriate for your senior pet.


The Elderly Pet Organization is a 501C3 non profit organization whose mission is to provide information and education about senior pets. Our goal is to end senior pet abandonment and premature euthanization, while increasing senior pet adoptions throughout the US. We accept donations of unwanted items, as well as cash donations to help us with our cause. Read more about us.




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