|Max the Beagle's Story|
|What a nice surprise to find this web site!
Max is my 15 year-old male Beagle that I've had since he was 8 weeks old.
He is the sweetest and most gentle dog one could ask for, and it hurts me
to see him having to deal with this problem in addition to everything
else. But he does, and with no complaints.
Max's overall health was excellent until about three years ago, when he began developing severe arthritis in his back legs, hips and tail. He also developed an enlarged heart and a related grade 4 heart murmur (on a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 being the most severe number). He has been on Rimadyl, Vasotec and Science Diet KD dog food for the last three years, and on Cosequin for the past several months.
In August of 1998 he began losing his appetite and drinking a lot of water, and also began to have a lot of accidents in the house and losing a lot of weight. After about three weeks of this, I took him to his veterinarian. She immediately diagnosed the diabetes, along with an enlarged pancreas and liver. We then had to deal with several major problems: regulating his diabetes, getting him to eat again, and finding the cause of the enlarged liver and pancreas.
We took first things first. After about eight weeks of bi-weekly serum blood glucose tests and adjusting insulin levels, diet and exercise, we were able to stabilize the diabetes. His food allotment was set at 1-1/2 cups of the KD (mixture of canned and dry) twice daily, as close to 5:30 am and 5:30 pm as possible. His insulin (Humulin N) level was set at 24 units twice daily, given at feeding time. Max hates shots, so the food usually distracts him long enough for me to give him the injection. Also, I sometimes have to add some human food to get him to eat. This is usually in the form of small pieces of apple or carrots, or frozen peas or corn, and usually works very well.
Things stabilized until December, 1998, when he developed cataracts. I got him in early because I noticed the clouds in his eyes and that he could not see his treats when I held them out in front of him. But I was too late. I took him to an ophthalmologist who found that one of his corneas was already badly deteriorated and the other was beginning to do the same. Sadly, he felt that surgery to remove the cataracts was not in Max's best interest, especially with his other health problems.
From March through November of 1999 not much changed for Max except that he lost most of his hearing. He still hears loud, sharp noises but that's about it. His liver enlargement has been traced to Cushing's disease, which also has a significant impact on his diabetes. We have not yet determined the reason for the enlarged pancreas, as his veterinarian felt this was the least important of the many issues we had to deal with. In addition, even though I have a good-paying job, Max's problems have taken literally all of my extra financial resources over the past 2 years, so I've had to prioritize his health care dollars.
Just after midnight on December 13th I woke up because the bed was shaking. Max was having a seizure. He had lost control of his bladder, was jerking and twitching all over, and was drooling and hyperventilating. Instead of remembering that this was probably a diabetic seizure, I panicked and stood there for about 10 minutes with no idea about what I should do. I finally drove him to a nearby emergency room, and they found that his blood sugar level had dropped to almost -0-. They fed him some high protein dog food and gave him dextrose intravenously, and I was able to take him home until his veterinarian's office opened.
That morning, we had to start all over again with the serum glucose studies, regulating his insulin, getting him to eat again and so on. He is still not doing very well from a diabetes standpoint. He is on 8 units of insulin twice daily, does not want to eat even with the human enhancements, and is drinking about 2 quarts of water a day. He has also dropped to about 28 pounds (from 33 pounds just before Thanksgiving). He has had two seizures since the first, but these were not as severe and a little maple syrup got him through them.
It is now March 2, 2000. Max has been switched to w/d dog food to add more protein to his diet to help with the diabetes. He is no longer on Cosequin but continues to receive Rimadyl for his arthritis. After his last seizure, his insulin was adjusted to 8 units twice daily, but over the last six weeks it was increased gradually to 16 units twice daily based on serial blood glucose tests (a blood glucose curve). I took him to the vet earlier this week for another curve, and his blood glucose was around 40 - 50 for the entire day. He is now back to 8 units twice daily, with absolutely no food other than the w/d, including treats.
With the warmer weather, he is beginning to feel better overall, especially when he can be outside with me. We have been taking short walks in the early morning and late evening and that also seems to improve his spirits, but I have to slow him down so he doesn't overdo it and aggravate his arthritis.
Overall, he seems to be feeling better than when I started his story, but I continue to watch him carefully. Diabetes is very unpredictable, but it is controllable with lots of attention and patience.
I'm hoping that this story will do two things. First, I hope that other dog lovers who read this will know how serious this disease really is and how much work and time it takes to deal with. Secondly, if you or others have suggestions about things I can do to help Max (or me) deal with this better, please let me know. I have no immediate family, and this gets overwhelming at times.
Thanks you so much!
Contributed December 1999