Is Your Diabetic Pet Always Pestering You for Food?

This morning, as I groggily shuffled towards the coffee pot, my cats sprang into action, meowing as if they hadn’t eaten in days. Of course, that’s far from the truth, despite what they might try to convince you. I have a skinny male cat who prefers nibbling on small portions, while my voluptuous female cat has been on a diet for the past 11 years. Both of them would gladly file a complaint with pet protective services, claiming that I’m depriving them of sustenance. The skinny cat simply cannot fathom why food isn’t available around the clock, oblivious to the fact that the food-motivated rubenesque cat would swiftly devour every last morsel. Although neither of my feline companions is diabetic, I do feed them low-carb food to mitigate the risk of them developing type 2 diabetes.

Pets are perceptive creatures. They observe our patterns and become accustomed to the routines we establish. My cats, for instance, miraculously appear on the windowsill shortly before I arrive home, as if they have an internal clock synced to mine. They know that my donning of scrubs signifies a prolonged absence, and my old Labrador, bless her soul, had an uncanny knack for telling time. At five minutes to 6 o’clock, she would shuffle out of her comfy dog bed and position herself by the office door at work, eagerly anticipating our departure for home. If I wore tennis shoes, it meant we were heading to the river path for a stroll. Pets thrive on routines; they find solace in our choices.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If I step out for a few minutes, I don’t expect a welcoming committee upon my return. There are times when I wonder if my critters have even budged an inch since I left. However, when I’ve been away for hours, their enthusiastic greeting is not just a display of affection; it’s primarily because they’re hungry. Naturally, I never leave food out for them, for obvious reasons.

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So, why am I telling you all this? Well, it occurred to me that I receive emails from clients on a regular basis, describing their daily routines and seeking advice on how to better manage their diabetic pets. Often, these routines involve irregular insulin administration and feeding times. For instance, some pet owners give insulin shots at 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM instead of the traditional 12-hour intervals. When asked why, they often cite their pets incessantly badgering them for food or the fact that their family dines at 5:00 PM. Sometimes, they even administer food and insulin at separate times. The choices people make never fail to surprise me. Night owls might even opt for 3:00 AM and 3:00 PM. The actual times matter less than the goal of striving for 12 hours apart.

We all know individuals who neglect their own well-being. They indulge in junk food, shun exercise, and might even suffer from diabetes themselves. They disregard the advice of doctors and nutritionists, frustrating those who care about them. However, pets don’t have the luxury of making these choices. We, as their caregivers, make the decisions for them – from injection times to portion sizes and their overall routine. Humans who neglect their health face the consequences, but our pets deserve to feel their best. We owe it to them to make the right choices.

Sure, pets may plead with us to fulfill their hunger, but ultimately, we are the ones in charge. Let me share a personal anecdote. My voluptuous cat, whom I met on a spay/neuter campaign years ago, was emaciated at the time. Even today, she steadfastly believes she is starving. She possesses an unwavering determination to steal food from my skinny cat. Saying “no” to a famished pet is a challenge I understand all too well.

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In general, maintaining consistent blood glucose levels is achieved through equally portioned meals, given at 12-hour intervals, coupled with insulin administration during mealtime. Of course, life isn’t perfect, and occasionally we find ourselves held up at work or attending social engagements. But as a rule, try to maintain a consistent schedule for feeding and administering insulin. If you currently adhere to irregular meal times, consider your schedule and explore ways to make it work with 12-hour intervals. And when your diabetic pet insists it’s starving, trust me, it probably isn’t. The mid-meal snacks that many pet owners offer their diabetic pets can cause unwanted spikes in blood glucose levels during the day. It’s best to avoid such snacks altogether. Remember, we are responsible for making the right food choices for our pets. We are their advocates for good health, even if it means facing their displeasure at times.

Have a question or comment? Feel free to post below or email me at [email protected] I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

Note: Before implementing any recommendations, consult your veterinarian to ensure they align with your pet’s specific health needs.