Our dog "Tres" is 7 years old, and is a
mix bichon/poodle. Tres had knee surgery (twice) about a year ago, and had
occasional bouts of limping. After surgery, he was given antibiotics and placed
on Metacam treatment. While he recovered quite well, his leg seemed to get worse
all of a sudden a few months ago. We also noticed that he was urinating for long
periods of time, and uncontrollably around the house. He was drinking between
4-7 bowls of water a day (which should explain the excess urination). And he
virtually stopped eating, losing about 15% of his body weight.
The saddest thing was watching our once "playful and affectionate" dog lying down all day just moaning and panting heavily, not a bit of energy left in him. There were times when he couldn't even get up, or he wouldn't even respond to "let's go for a walk". He was not in good shape at all. Our concern was primarily with his bad knee and the onset of arthritis, so we went to see the vet. He suggested that his knee may be infected as he felt a bump and it was very tender to touch. Antibiotics were prescribed, but the vet didn’t think diabetes was present because it was unusual for diabetics to LOSE weight – generally they gain weight. He offered to take blood tests as a precaution, so we agreed.
Within 2 days our vet called and told us that Tres had diabetes. He cautioned us about the high level of commitment required to proceed with diabetes treatment, and that Tres would be insulin dependant for the rest of his life. We wondered about the impact on our lives, how much care was required, will our home become a hospital, and are we able to give needles? Can we deal with emergencies? And was this the right thing for Tres? Our heads were spinning.
Well you can imagine how we took this, with my husband almost in tears, and myself trying to be strong. I think we were more scared of the unknown, not knowing about this disease and hearing horror stories about seizures, blindness, and needles. We had no idea of what to expect. I'm still not certain if in fact the medication might have triggered the diabetes.
Despite the confusion, we didn't think twice about caring for our diabetic dog. He is on Humulin N and takes injections (7 units) twice daily at 9am and 9pm. His blood is tested only once every few weeks as our vet "hit the dose on the nose!" The first few days, I'd have to admit, were the most difficult in giving injections because lets face it, unless you're a doctor or a nurse, you've probably never had to give a needle before! But that is the most amazing thing... I never thought I would be able to deal with having to give injections every day, but honestly I can tell you it gets easier and easier, and now it's a piece of cake! Really no big deal! I can't begin to tell you how much Great Tres feels! He is playful again, loves his food, barks for attention, and has his energy back. He even runs on his walks now! Back to his old ‘pain in the butt’ days. Gotta love ‘em!!!! I would also like to mention the costs for all of you who may think it is very expensive to treat your pet with diabetes. The Humulin N Insulin costs us $18.00 for a 3 month dosage and the syringes are about .20 each (This is Cdn pricing!) so really excluding your vet cost (which you can certainly negotiate) It isn't too expensive after all to treat your pet with diabetes. I will leave you with this....Insulin is certainly "the" miracle drug in our minds!
-- Contributed by Laura & Graham Finney