Thursday, March 24, 2011

too much exercise can be bad for a(n unregulated) diabetic dog

Exercising a diabetic dog can be a very stressful process - especially with an unregulated diabetic dog.

While exercise IS important, too much can cause a break down of the stored form of glucose (called glycogen) which increases blood sugar.

We experienced this the other day. It was a beautiful day, the sun shining, kids playing in the street - just a great day. We took Buzz and Bella for an hour-long walk. The pups, used to our short 20-30 minute walk around the neighborhood all winter, were tired and hot at the end of the walk, something I didn't think this was a big deal as it had been more than twice as long as our normal routine.

I went to take Buzz's sugar about an hour later, and it was 'hi' (meaning over 750!). There was NO reason for his sugar to be that high, as nothing had changed. But wait, we took a longer walk - that was the ONLY thing that had changed... and certainly that couldn't have RAISED his sugar, right?

Digging back through all of the diabetes info stored in my brain over 3.5 years of graduate school biology classes, I realized that Buzz probably started breaking down glycogen (the stored form of sugar). Exercise should help the body absorb insulin (which essentially grabs sugar in the blood) so that the sugar is gone for good; however, too much exercise can cause a sharp decrease in blood sugar (the body was too good at absorbing insulin) and Buzz's body recogized that it needed to produce MORE sugar without eating, so it used its stored sugar. Weird, huh?

We learned the hard way that with an unregulated diabetic dog, you need to introduce longer exercise routines VERY SLOWLY. We won't be going on any more hour long walks for a while, but we will still be going on our daily walk (remember: exercise helps the body absorb insulin! which is great for a diabetic dog!). In the future, we will gradually increase the time we spend on our walk and hopefully can build his body's tolerance to increased exercise.


  1. Hmmm... I'm wondering if this is true for humans, too... Exercise is healthy for us, but limitations can be different..

  2. Wow...I'm learning so much through your blog...and also catching a glimpse of the struggles that go with having a diabetic dog. It sounds like it's tricky to find the correct balance. It's so great that you're blogging about all of this! I can only imagine how helpful it is to others out there going through the exact same thing!

  3. Here is another great place to learn more

  4. Wow this is the first time I've heard about limitations on exercise. Also I didn't know that dogs too can be diabetics! I really need to read more about this. :(


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