Our min pin was diagnosed with diabetes today. It may be a coincidence, but after she got her annual shots about a month ago, she started to lose weight and muscle tone, and tests done earlier this week have revealed this sad news.
I'm taking her back to the vet tomorrow to get her started on insulin. We had a diabetic cat so I have experience giving the shots, but I'm looking for suggestions for food choices/treats that other people have had success with. And hopefully some stories about how your dogs lived a long and happy life after this type of diagnosis.
Sorry to hear about your dog having diabetes. I can't offer much advice, but I currently have a diabetic cat, and the recommended diet for him is high protien, low carbs (as you most likely know given that you had a diabetic cat before). I'm not sure if that applies to dogs or not.
But, because I have a diabetic cat, over the past several years I have been lucky enough to hear about other people's diabetic pet stories, and I have heard several regarding diabetic dogs going on to live long and very happy lives!
Yep, low carb diet. That's easier said than done, if you read the ingredients on the dog/cat food package. Have your vet recommend a food...the high protein diets are usually very expensive.
As a side note to pet owners...a sure sign that your dog/cat is diabetic...they start drinking huge amounts of water and peeing a lot and in huge quantities. Hard to track with a dog sometimes, but if you notice big pee piles in the litter box, get your cat to the vet. Diabetes is easily managed with your pet, if you catch it early.
I also had a diabetic cat. She lived a VERY, VERY long life.
A boyfriend of mine had a neighbor with a diabetic dog. The dog also lived a very, very long life. it's not the end of the world, truly!
Common sense is the main thing. Adjust the shots if you know you'll have to be away, that sort of thing. My main problem was getting my cat to eat the Prescription Diet! My cat even got to the point where she refused to eat unless she had her shot, so it was impossible for me to forget to give it to her--they DO adjust!
Just my experience with a diabetic kitty (who's doing very well!) is to be very careful about what the vet recommends regarding special prescription food.
After my cat was diagnosed, the vet sent me home with a few different (expensive!) types of "diabetic" cat food, including a bag of dry food. Of course I immediately went online to do some research, and I found that certain types of CANNED Fancy Feast cat food were perfectly acceptable, and in some cases, BETTER, than the prescription diets.
Also, there is a lot of crap pet food out there masquerading as "premium, natural" food. My kitty had been on Natural Balance dry food (with a small bit of canned IAMS). Pretty much all dry cat food is full of ingredients that are not in the best interests of cats. Lots of grains, "vegetables", etc. all add up to high carbs. IMO, most of those "premium, natural" pet foods are just marketing ploys. Both my cats are permanently off dry food.
In one week's time, my cat's glucose went down from 456 to 230 simply by changing his diet to the "safe" Fancy Feast canned varieties. I found this info on a Yahoo Diabetic Cat list group, and the food info was also discovered on a diabetic cat website and a couple of forums.
Initially diagosed the weekend before Christmas 2008, my vet suggested we wait until the week after Christmas to start the insulin. Since I got his glucose number reduced significantly, we've avoided the insulin thing, and kitty is still doing great on diet alone.
I also put him on a daily Vit B-12 pill (3 mg Methylcobalamin, crushed up in his food), plus a once weekly 400 IU Vit E capsule (punctured and squeezed over his food).
Not saying the internet is the end-all, be-all, for advice (nor to be used in lieu of what your vet recommends), but it certainly can be useful for researching what others have used successfully. It sure was the trick for me to find the solution to this same kitty's "idiopathic cystitis" problem diagnosed in 2005 after nearly $1K in tests, diagnostics, treatments. My vet pretty much gave up, saying she had no idea what was causing it. I found a remedy online that had my little man comfy within 24 hours.
Interestingly enough, when researching feline diabetes, I read that steroid injections is suspected of bringing it on, and my cat had received several back in 2005 when the vet was (unsuccessfully) trying to treat his cystitis.
He has never been obese or even "fat", and the vet was very surprised when that first blood test last Christmas turned up that high glucose reading. I had taken him in because he had become somewhat lethargic and was just NQR. Diet change, plus a couple of inexpensive supplements, and he's back to being a mischievous ball of energy, even at 15 years of age.
Last edited by Liberty; Jun. 18, 2009 at 08:56 AM.
There is a wealth of information online regarding canine diabetes, that being said....
I have a beagle mix who is currently mildly overweight. A while back he started drinking HUGE amounts of water, and then be unable to control his bladder and would pee all over the house. We tried training him, but you could tell that he couldn't help it he would just have to pee so bad. We eventually took a urine sample to the vet (a different vet said not to worry, that he was just drinking so much because it was during the summer) and he determined in five minutes that our Cody has diabetes.
Now, Cody's diabetes isn't very advanced. He's on a low dosage of 4ML of insulin twice a day (he's about 48lbs). He gets fed Diamond natural dog food (no grains, and that's what the other two dogs get). He does fantastic on that food and his insulin shots.
Since we started the insulin shots (right before Christmas of the past year) he's only accidently peed in the house a few times (mostly because one of us forgot to let him out right after dinner). He's got a lot more energy and just seems to be a happier dog. The vet assures us he will live for a long time.
Now, as far as treats go (he is a beagle, after all, he can't SURVIVE without treats) I LOVE the Blue Dog Bakery low-fat, natural treats. They are relatively expensive, but I break one cookie into pieces and give him that after he gets his shots every day.
He adjusted VERY quickly to getting pricked twice a day with the needle. It's very simple to do and he doesn't seem to care at all, he doesn't even flinch anymore. He comes running when I call and has learned to sit still until I'm finished.
The only thing is he has to have CONSISTENT amounts of exercise. No day-long hikes one day and then snoozing on the couch the next. The vet said it doesn't matter how much exercise I decide to give him, but that it needs to be consistent all the time. I take him and the other two dogs for a walk after work every day, I can't skip it. Also, you need to be careful about making sure you give him his medication every twelve hours. We do it at 6:30 am and 6:30 pm every day. With him (since he's on such a low dosage) we can vary it a little (I can get home at 7:30 and do it, etc.) but dogs on higher dosages need to be managed a little better.
Good luck with your dog, and it truly isn't the end of the world!
Sometimes it's just not worth it to chew through the ropes in the morning....
The good news is that dogs are typically more easily managed than cats. So if you've been doing well with your cat, this will likely be a lot easier to handle.
One note...Cushings Disease in dogs or the use of corticosteroids such as prednisone in the past can set a pet up for diabetic tendencies. Other infections (viral, bacterial) can also trigger problems especially if they affected the pancreas.
So...there *could* be more to it...
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
I knew a diabetic foxhound who developed it at age 12 and lived until age 14. She was never overweight and ate regular dog food all along, lived an inconsistent lifestyle and was happy as a clam. Her biggest problem came when she got too much exercise at the barn and didn't get home in time for supper - her blood sugars would get low and she'd get sort of vague and we'd have to give her some barn cat food or a trip through McD's drivethrough for a burger. So just like people, there are diabetic dogs who get expensive carefully chosen dog food and rigid schedules and consistent exercise, and there are dogs like her who do fine despite the chaos.
Thank you for all the replies and especially for the stories of your pets that have continued to live happy, actives lives.
I picked up the insulin and syringes today, and I'm heading out to find the right kind of food so I hope our little girl will be among the success stories you shared. Thank you!
I also came away from the vet's office feeling a bit disturbed. If there are any vet techs here, perhaps you can enlighten me. This is a busy practice with a very high turnover in vets. It's part of a small chain, and it seems that every time I get to know and like a vet, they are suddenly gone.
I also feel like I am constantly being pressured for expensive treatments or extra tests. On Monday, it was the antibiotic that is a one-injection deal but costs $100 more than daily pills. Today, when I brought my dog in for her insulin, I showed the vet a small swelling on her paw that occurred yesterday when she came out with me to bring in the horses. I told her I thought it was a bee sting because when we went out, her paw was fine but when we came in, there was a small swelling, about the size of a pea. My dog was weight-bearing on it, but it was tender. She took her out back and came back to tell me that she thought my dog needed a special pathologist to look at the blood smear for an extra $200.
My dog is chipper, eating well, looking great and except for the recent diagnosis of high sugar in her blood, you would never know there is anything wrong with her. Plus, the lump appeared in a span of 15 minutes yesterday. It leads me to wonder if the high turnover at the office is due to pressure from the owner to push clients for extra tests. The vet seemed very uncomfortable when she was suggesting the test and I told her that I would hot pack it and give her Benadryl before we went for such an expense, as I have already spent $300 on her this week, tapping out my budget. I couldn't help but feel a combination of guilt but suspicion that I was being pushed for such an expensive test.
Am I being too suspicious? It just seems like every time I go in there for simple shots for my animals, they push for the most expensive options. I really value and appreciate my vets and I also feel badly for them if they are constantly being pushed to sell, sell, sell. It is so awkward.
My cocker developed diabetes at age 13 . . .and lived to be twenty. The two of you will learn what works best for you. My dog never got needle-phobic, as he knew that he got food right after. He got two shots and two meals per day, and was getting two different insulins, one short-acting and one long-acting. Every three-four months we would leave him at the vet for a day and have a glucose curve done; any adjustments in the insulin would be made according to the results.
A good treat for a diabetic dog is canned pumpkin (not the pie filling, just the solid pack pumpkin). It's low carb and very high in fiber, and fiber helps to control blood sugar. I've yet to encounter a dog who doesn't love it. Also, my dog liked baby carrots.
Good luck! It is an adjustment, for sure. But you'll both do fine. (I don't know what the regs are for the needles in your state. I had to have my vet write a prescription for 99 boxes of them, because most pharmacies had a policy against selling without a prescription. I could purchase insulin, no problem, even though I could have gone all Klaus Von Bulow on someone with it. But needles were a different story).
I've used a similar "fancy" vet clinic, where a checkup (for example) would include detailed bloodwork and several precautionary tests like early kidney failure tests and that sort of thing. The bill would be several hundreds of dollars for each cat for every single checkup! But, I always knew -in detail - what the current state of health of each of my cats was.
Now, I'm with a vet who is much more laid back, and a checkup is pretty much just a visual examination. No extra tests are done, and as a result my vet bills for the cats are much, much lower! But, I have to make sure to keep a good eye on the cats at home, because if there is a problem my vet isn't going to be able to warn me about it in advance.
It depends on what type of care you want, I guess. I liked both vet offices, but prefer the low-maintenance version personally. But I know other people who want the extra treatment, so that they have the extra peace of mind.
Regarding your concerns....tell me this isn't a Banfield clinic. Lordy.
Anyway....why not look for an AAHA accredited small animal hospital that is smaller and more consistent with their staff. I worked in the veterinary field for some time...there are certainly times when watch and wait is okay, though it is responsible and good medicine (IMHO) to offer all of the possible options.
For example, the pea sized bump on your dog. I guess most vets I know would've likely looked at it and said, "Well, she doesn't seem painful and we certainly could do a cytology...but it might be better to just watch and wait or give an antihistamine for a few days and see if it resolves. What would like to do?"
There are some owners who will watch and wait a dog to death--or at least til things are so bad that it will cost a LOT MORE to fix than it would had they acted sooner. There are others that bring their dogs in at the drop of a hat for very minor things and consider them emergent. I've done TICK REMOVALS on emergency call. Dingleberry removals. On emergency call. Seriously.
So. I hear what you're saying, and it frankly does sound a bit excessive to me. But I'm no vet and I haven't seen your pet....so....I dunno. My vote would be to find a veterinarian you feel more comfortable with because with the ongoing treatment, you're going to be seeing a lot more of him/her.
A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.
Actually, just to add to my earlier post: take a look at the "nomal" client at your current vet - at my old clinic, the average client was of the mindset that their cat/dog/hamster/pick-any-pet was like a child to them. In that context, doing extra tests was not unreasonable. Nothing wrong with that, but I didn't really have the same mindset and therefore switched to a different vet.
I'll just chime in briefly -- my parents' bichon frise has lived with diabetes for more than five years, he's 15 now, so pretty old. He's done very well with the actual diabetes, and has lived a full and happy life. The only thing my parents talk about changing in terms of the diabetes is that he's developed cataracts, and they elected not to have surgery. Now they feel he's too old to take the anasthesia etc risk, but they think they should have had the cataracts removed. But, hindsight is 20-20, and we can't really know if it would have been best for him.
My cairn terrier was diagnosed with diabetes at age 2.
I gave her insulin shots twice a day until she died of old age at 14!
Count them - 12 years of twice daily shots!
She was happy, feisty, cute and had a very satisfying if somewhat regimented life.
Any way, here are the things I found to be important.
Number one on my list would be consistency: Same food, same exercise, same treats, every day - and if it all can be done at the same time each day that is even better.
Remember exercise effects insulin absorption so if they run around a lot more or less in a given day it will change their insulin levels.
Don't know if you have other people in your house but communicate about who is giving the shots. We double dosed a couple of times, what a nightmare.
Have karo syrup or marshmallows in the house in case you need to feed them to your dog in an emergency.
Also, our dog hated to get her shot in the scruff of the neck. She tried to kill us, but she had no problem with getting shots in the tush.
If you can get them to pee on pavement you can "eye ball" the urine and will eventually not need to use the strips to test the levels.
If they are behaving "weirdly" personality wise check their levels. Just like some people it can effect their mood too.
We only had the insulin curves done infrequently, probably closer to once a year, unless we noticed a problem.
My yellow lab Sadie was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago. We had a hard time getting her blood sugar levels regulated because it turned out she also had hypothyroidism. Once we got both her thyroid and insulin levels balanced, she did great. I bought a Freestyle monitor at the local CVS and check her blood sugar levels regularly. When we were first trying to get her regulated, I would test her twice a day. Now that she has been stable for several years, I test her a couple of times a week, just to make sure we are still in the right range. I have a fructosamine test run on her once a year, but haven't done a glucose curve since we got her regulated. She is on Science Diet WD and has done well on it. She did develop cataracts in the first few months while we were trying to get her glucose levels down, so she has essentially no sight in one eye and limited vision in the other. Despite twice daily insulin injections, twice daily thyroid pills, and not being able to see, she is the happiest dog. She is active and outgoing and doesn't realize she has 'issues'!