name is Lara. She is a mutt who looks a little like a German shephard (but
she is smaller). We don't know how old she is exactly, because we got her
from an animal shelter, but she was probably born in spring of 1990, so
she is 11 now. We live in Zagreb, Croatia.
We first noticed there was something wrong in spring 1999 when Lara started getting cataract in her eyes. We didn't know that it was cataract, but she went blind almost over night. We took her to the vet and they told us that older dogs sometimes get cataract, but unfortunately nobody connected it to diabetes.
Then we noticed she was drinking a lot of water and had to go for a walk more often than before. She also urinated a few times at the places where she shouldn't have. I asked the vet about that and he said that it was probably "a wrong signal" in her brain. We still didn't suspect anything. (I wish we asked for a second opinion, because we felt something wasn't quite right.) Then she started losing weight. Again, our vet said it was nothing to worry about. (Although I think we didn't ask the right questions. We asked "Isn't she too thin?" when we should have asked "Why has she lost weight?"). She was getting thinner, she was weak, when we took her for a walk she was walking very slowly behind us. I envied people whose dogs were running around and fetching balls!
Finally, the vet said we should do a blood test. I didn't go to work that day, because I was so afraid the vet would tell us that she had some terrible disease and that we would have to put her to sleep. We took her to the vet's office for the blood test and they told us to call them for the results two hours later. Those two hours were horrible! When we called them, they said she had diabetes. The funny thing was that we were relieved! We didn't have to put her to sleep!
The vet told us he was putting Lara on pills (Euglucon) and that she had to eat only Hill's w/d and nothing else. We were giving her the pills and feeding her even more w/d than she should have eaten, but she kept getting thinner and thinner. I think people who saw her must have thought we were abusing her or something. You could see all of her bones. Finally, I asked our vet "Isn't she going to die of hunger?". Then he told us to take her to the Veterinarian Faculty, because they had more experience with diabetes.
Well, after that things started getting better! We took her to the Vet Faculty and they immediately took action. When they first measured her blood sugar, it was 23.4 mmol/l (it should be around 8 for a diabetic dog). They told us that she was probably getting more benefits from w/d food than from the pills (and we saw the pills weren't helping her). They immediately started her on insulin shots, twice a day. We were afraid at first, like "How are we going to give shots to the poor dog?", but it really wasn't a big deal, especially after some practice. She also took it very well.
For a few months we vere at the vet's office very often, we were there even on Christmas and New year's Eve of 1999. Poor Lara had all of her legs poked constantly, because they were taking blood samples to adjust the quantity of insulin we had to give her. Well, she really got better! She started gaining weight and looking like a real dog again! We were so happy we made it!
She was neutered in April 2000, because the vets told us her blood sugar would be out of control otherwise. We were so afraid she wouldn't make it through surgery, but she did! She was even running outside the same day - not at all what we expected (we were surprised she even wanted to go outside)! Well, they gave her something for the pain, I guess that was the reason!
After the surgery, we met a vet who is working at the Faculty and who lives close to us and he offered to help us, so we wouldn't have to drive her all the way to the Faculty if something went wrong after the surgery. We accepted and now he's the only vet taking care of her. He also made arrangements for Lara's teeth cleaning in December 2000. It was made under anesthesia and we were afraid her heart wouldn't take it, but everything was OK. I hope she won't go to any more surgeries!
So now Lara sees the vet every few months. (Not only because of diabetes. Sometimes she has to have her claws cut and she also stepped on a bee once!) My husband has learned to take her blood samples (she just waits patiently!), so if we suspect she has a high glucose level, we can check it on our own. We also use home urine glucose testing, approximately once every two weeks. She is fed twice a day (w/d only), followed by 11 units of insulin 100 (it's called Actraphane). Luckily, she hasn't had any problems with her legs so far. There has even been some improvement in the cataract in her left eye! She also gained more weight than she should have, so we had to start giving her less food.
So far, everything looks great! I hope it will stay that way! I'm only sorry we didn't react earlier, because we felt something was wrong and we shouldn't have taken everything our vet said for granted. She could have been on insuline months earlier and she wouldn't have become so thin and weak. After all, we know her better than any vet and we should have listened to our gut instinct.
It is true that treating a diabetic dog can get very expensive, but we won't let that stop us from taking care of this loving dog. We had people telling us we should put her to sleep, but that wasn't even an option for us. We can see that she's a very happy dog and that she enjoys life. She likes to go for a walk and she's very impatient when the feeding time is close! She also likes to cuddle and sleep on our bed. She's the greatest dog in the whole world and I hope she will be with us for a long time!
-- Contributed by Sandra
Contributed May 2001