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Owner's descriptions of the health & lifestyle of their diabetic pets. 

For months before our Samoyed Chance's Chance diagnosis, we suspected something was wrong. He wasn't "himself", and I took him to the vet again and again. It was devastating-- but also a kind of relief-- when he was finally diagnosed with diabetes.  

Chance was 7 years old when we found out he was diabetic. His blood glucose levels were very high (in the 500's), and he panted, was restless at night, obviously uncomfortable; and sometimes in very real distress. The vet supported our home testing, which helped us track the efficiency of the insulin and accelerated his regulation.

The most severe problems we encountered were the loss of Chance's eyesight, and the deterioration of his coat. Like most diabetic dogs, Chance needed regular ophthalmologist check-ups, and we learned he would go blind without cataract surgery. Chance had the surgery about a year after diagnosis, and this procedure was serious and difficult. But he can see well now and there seem to be no side effects.

He lost his undercoat completely. Before he was regulated I would take him for a walk and could see his pink skin when the wind blew the fine white hair of his coat. All the people that used to stop us and tell us what a beautiful dog he was stopped to console us about our aged and ill Chance. He was always high-spirited and happy and I'm glad he never understood how sick and sorry he looked at that time.

But the insulin treatment, his change in diet and our careful schedule finally did make a difference... in Chance's case it took two years. Chance was trickier than most to regulate and I think many animals are like Chance-- they just don't have nice, neat BG curves that make regulation so simple.

Chance doesn't know he has diabetes, and he doesn't realize he is sick in any way. He's a very happy boy, very puppy-like for his ten years, and I don't believe that his disease will affect the quality of his life or life span at all. His diabetes, if anything, has brought him closer to us, and us to him.

We adjust to the changes necessary to keep Chance comfortable and healthy. He is worth it in a million ways.


Fleabag Fleabag is a cat diagnosed with diabetes on June 25, 1998 at the age of 17. Fleabag has never been what most would called regulated. His bg numbers tend to stay fairly high, even for a cat. My vets and I call him "stable". He tends to thrive on numbers over 200 but clinical signs such as pu/pd, weight loss, lethargy, etc. are nonexistent.

Fleabag has suffered 2 bouts of pancreatitis since becoming diabetic. In March, 2000, he lost his ability to walk. That disability has nothing to do with his diabetes. After much testing by regular vets, a chiropractor/ acupuncturist and a neurologist, he was found to have a defect or injury to his spinal column complicated by arthritis. This would have happened even if he had not been diabetic.

His overall health at this point (October, 2000) is very good for a 19+ year old cat. His one complaint would be bouts of constipation. Otherwise, his appetite is excellent, his coat is full, he's feisty and his blood work defies logic for a cat his age. Other than fluid on his right lung which caused an infection, he has not had any medical problems since March, 2000 and is currently on no medication except insulin and multi-vitamins.

His lifestyle is much changed since he doesn't walk. He must be turned many times throughout the day, massaged, fed/watered in bed and he lies on diapers to keep him dry. However, he still rules the other cats even from his bed. He'll always be the alpha cat in the household.

This disease is not the end. It can be the beginning of real bonding with your pet. Feel free to contact me at pepatton@pobox.com . I'm always happy to share a story or 2 about my Fleabag. --- Patty


Seamus Seamus Walsh is a 120 pound Irish wolfhound black lab mix.  He is 7 years old and has been diabetic for 4 years (since 1996). In the beginning our vets couldn't get Seamus regulated. He was going to vets daily for almost 2 weeks, and they finally referred him to an internist. Even then he was going so often that when we drove into parking space he would start crying! Now, overall, his diabetes is pretty well managed and his bgs average 150-250. I blood test each morning and sometimes in the evening if his bgs are really low or high. Otherwise the evening test is a urine glucose test. Blood testing is a lot easier than chasing him around the yard to pee, but he has such! a good time, that I can't deny him this great game...:-) When he has unusual bgs, the vet taught me to ask myself what could be going on: did he have a snack (dad!!) did he get more exercise, are we getting to the end of the insulin, or is it a new bottle, is he stressed...etc. Being a diabetic dogggy mom for over 4 years, I am comfortable adjusting his insulin doses on my own. 

The diabetes caused cataracts to form, and about 1 year after diagnosis he had cataract surgery with lens implants. Seamus has also had a few wounds and infections that required longer to heal and aggressive medications & treatment. He had a foxtail removed from his foot - the wound wouldn't heal and we had to use special powder. Also, before he was regulated, he had a huge gash in groin area which required very aggressive treatment because it wouldn't heal and became gangrenous. The bottom line: no wound is minor in a diabetic!!  Seamus also developed Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency which means his pancreas doesn't produce enough digestive enzymes so he must have a supplement added to his food each time he eats. Overall, Seamus is in very good health for a 7 year old giant breed, and he has not had any lifestyle changes. As all moms & dads know, most changes have been for us. 

The benefits I've experienced with Seamus's diabetes are: meeting wonderful people who share this "malady"; a better knowledge of this disease that humans are confronted with; a realization that what you didn't think you could possibly do is not impossible; and a reason to learn how to use the computer!! 
-- Marcia and Seamus, and the mutleys Sam & Midge


Our cat Barney Barney is 17 years old and has been diabetic for 3-1/2 years.  Overall, his diabetes has been reasonably well controlled and has not presented us with any major health problems. His lifestyle is similar to what I would expect if he were not diabetic. Once diagnosed, he was no longer allowed to stay outside all day while we are at work - and this has been the biggest change in Barney's lifestyle. He's had a few diabetes-related health problems, including overcoming moderate hind-leg weakness and a slow-healing corneal ulcer.

For the last 3 years, Barney has also been on medication to control hyperthyroidism. The medication caused him to have an upset stomach for almost two weeks, and we had to be careful about his insulin dose and trying to get him to keep some food down. After he had his teeth cleaned, we had to be careful to watch his eating habits and his insulin dose, and it seemed to take him a few extra days to get back to his usual self.

Recently, Barney's condition has declined noticeably. But I attribute that to his age and to a recent diagnosis and major surgery for liver cancer. He recovered very quickly from the surgery and his diabetes did not present him or the vets with any problems. He does not appear to be in any discomfort, but he is less active.  Sometimes he has difficulty climbing onto the couch or bed, and instead of walking around the property he often prefers to be carried. But Barney is still a healthy kitty who loves his life -- and we love him. You can read details about how we manage his diabetes.

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Updated October 2000
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