Sunday, June 29, 2014

My Dog Has Diabetes

It's been an overwhelming month around here. Our dog April was bitten by a tick during our trip to West Virginia. She got very sick and I rushed her to the emergency vet at one in the morning.

We had to force feed her for a few days, but she got better. The following week we went on vacation again, to Wisconsin this time. At my aunt and uncle's cottage, April kept rushing down to the lake to drink. She drank and drank and drank. And peed, and peed, and peed.

At home, she started having accidents in the house. The water dish was always dry. I wondered, does April have diabetes? We took our 11-year-old dog to the vet. She weighed 58 pounds. A month ago April was 75 pounds. A 17 pound weight loss in a month!

Excessive thirst, check.
Excessive urination, check.
Weight loss, check.
Always hungry, check.
I know these symptoms. I've been here before. This sounds a lot like diabetes. So, I told the vet, "I think I know what's wrong with her."

The vet said, "What do you think is wrong?"

"I think my dog has diabetes." The vet thought it was a whole bunch of other stuff, but maybe not diabetes. To humor me, the vet checked April's blood glucose. April's blood sugar was 644! No wonder April was feeling horrible. I diagnosed my own dog with diabetes. After a night in the vet hospital getting fluids and starting on insulin, we took our dog home.

It's been a stressful adjustment. April is on NPH insulin, twice a day. Keeping her insulin on one side of the fridge, and mine on the other, was the first thing I did. Also, her insulin is cloudy and mine is clear, so that helps. I prefill two syringes before I go to bed. That way I can tell at a glance if I gave April her shot. Right now giving April insulin is new, but in a few weeks this will become a routine. That's when mistakes can happen. I'm doing my best to head them off.

April is improving. Insulin is magic that way. I've been testing her blood sugar at home using a Onetouch meter. She's ranging from 325-205. If this was me, I would correct. I hate being high. With two shots a day of NPH, I have no way of correcting April's blood sugar. I am trying not to let this bother me. But, of course it does bother me. I know the long term damage high blood sugar can do. I know what high blood sugar feels like. I don't want my dog to feel like that.


I'm having to adjust my thinking. April's diabetes does not need to be micromanaged like mine does. A weimaraner's lifespan is 12 to 13 years. She is 11. If we treat her diabetes aggressively, April has a year or so to live. If we don't treat it aggressively, April has a year or so to live. I test her blood sugar three times a day to help the vet adjust her insulin dose accordingly. Once we have things dialed in, I won't test as often. There is no need to test her 10 times a day like I do myself. She eats the same food, at the same time, in the same amount, every day. Her blood sugars aren't going to go crazy because of something she ate. Keeping her stress down is important to me as well. She's not a young pup anymore. But, she is still a great dog.

April isn't having accidents and is doing better every day. She likes to snuggle on the couch with her dad and her favorite cat, Fresh Air. She likes short walks in the woods. She's a good dog. A great dog. And now a dog living with diabetes, just like me.

Here are a few pictures of Miss April over the years. The yellow dog is her best friend, Honey. The first picture is from 2003. The last one was taken in December 2013.

1 comment:

  1. Great diagnosis, Dr. Marie!

    Stinks about the diabetes though (of course). My wife's uncle has a dog with diabetes and it always shocks me to hear how crude and imprecise the methods are, but I never thought of it in the literal side-by-side contrast that you describe. (I'm assuming the dog has Type 1, but does anyone know for sure? Twice daily NPH would probably be fine, I assume, for a T2 canine)



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