Exercise is an important part of keeping your pet's diabetes controlled. It tends to be a more important issue for dogs than for cats. kitties at playDogs are often taken out for walks, playtime, or go for day trips with their owners. Cats can be encouraged to exercise, or you may play vigorously with your cat for a short time, but cats usually just do their own thing. For both cats and dogs, it is important to keep their activity level the same from day to day. The time of day when exercise is done, how vigorous the activity is, and how long the activity lasts all effect the bg levels.

Exercise generally causes the bg to decrease. There are many reasons for this. Exercising muscles need energy, and they get that some of that energy from blood glucose. As the animal exercises, the blood glucose decreases. Exercise also increases the heart rate and increases the blood circulation. The increased blood circulation causes insulin to be absorbed more quickly, which causes the blood glucose to drop. Exercise can dramatically increase the rate at which insulin is absorbed.

You would be surprised at what small changes in activity can do.  What you think is a relatively low level of activity may be enough to seriously lower your pet's bg.

Here are two personal experiences from owners whose diabetic dogs became seriously hypoglycemic because of a change in the daily activity routine. These stories illustrate two points: how an increase in the amount of exercise or activity can cause hypoglycemia, and to always carry Karo or some other sugar source with you when you take your diabetic pet out of the house.

My 9 year old Rottweiler "Maggie" has had terrific blood glucose readings for awhile. So today I took her with me to a dog show. She used to be a show dog, so I thought she would enjoy going with me. She is always the dog who is left at home and she usually sleeps during the day, so this activity was quite a change. We were out only for about two hours, but she walked more then shewalk, walk, walk, walk! usually does. It came time to go home and she was acting like she was really tired. I put her in the back of my van and drove about one mile when the terrible problem started. She went into full blown convulsions. I thought I was losing her. Her tongue was turning blue as she was thrashing. I realized I had left the house without any form of sugar with me. I pulled into a gas station and ran in and grabbed maple syrup. I rubbed it on her gums and cheeks and she came around instantly. The whole scene was horrible! My vet told me that the extra exercise caused her bg to drop and that I can't change her level of exercise so drastically. This experience was a nightmare! I hope our experience helps warn others about the dangers of suddenly increasing your pets activity levels, even if it seems like its only a little bit. And everyone please remember to take sugar with you when you take your pet away from home.
--- Submitted by Nancy


UdiI took my dog Udi to obedience training class after his dinner and insulin injection. We had been going to this class for months and had never experienced any problems with Udi becoming hypoglycemic. The class lasted only two hours, and I never thought that I might need Karo, so I didn't have any with me. But during the class, Udi started getting glassy eyed. I took him outside where he started staggering around in little circles. I rushed back inside to see if anyone had ANYTHING sweet. Powdered day-old donuts were the first thing someone offered and I grabbed them. I fed them to Udi, who gobbled down the sugar, and luckily, it was enough to stabilize his blood glucose. Udi looked kind of pleased to sit on the sidelines with me while his sister had to keep doing her training. I never go anywhere without Karo now.
--- Submitted by Lissa


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Updated October 2000
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