We have a male, neutered, black toy poodle named
Bogie. Bogie is the cute little black guy. Cassie's always by
his side, so when you get him, you get her. He's 11 years old and was diagnosed as diabetic about 5 years ago. He was
having knee surgery and had a routine blood test before the operation.
Everything tested normally. He had never shown any signs of diabetes. Within
days following the surgery I knew there was a problem. He had a soft cast on his
leg so he wasn't getting much exercise, but I noticed he was losing weight and
drinking a lot of water. My mother in law had recently been diagnosed, so I knew
these were symptoms of diabetes.
My vet tested and diagnosed him as diabetic. He said pets do sometimes become spontaneously diabetic following surgery and sometimes it is only for a short period of time. Unfortunately Bogie was not one of the lucky ones. We had no idea how frustrating the first 6 months would be! It was very difficult getting him regulated. At that time he was using an animal insulin recommended by his vet. I later learned that animal insulin is not as stable as the synthetic and one batch can differ from another. Within three months, Bogie developed cataracts and went completely blind. If he had been older, we might have waited to see how he would adjust to the blindness. We had an old dog at one time who did extremely well. Since Bogie was still young, we took him to a specialist and scheduled him for cataract surgery. Surgeries were done in Philadelphia which is over two hours away. I think I'm glad we did, but I'd think twice about doing it again. Bogie had some complications following surgery and we had to take him back on several occasions and rush him to the emergency vet on one occasion for some type of injection. We did not have artificial lenses implanted (it was not an option given to us), so he cannot see close up, but he does have sight. If you watched him walking around, even in a strange place, you would not know he had any vision problem. However if you roll a ball under his nose, he doesn't have a clue. We had to put so many drops in his eyes at various times that I made up a spreadsheet just to keep track. To say he was real tired of my sticking him in the butt with a needle, giving him pills and putting drops in his eyes is an understatement. I would not recommend this to anyone who is not totally dedicated to the care of their pet.
We got him regulated somewhere about 8 units twice a day. Shortly after, Lilly stopped making the animal insulin so we changed to synthetic. This was ultimately a great change for all of us, but we had to increase the insulin to 12 units twice a day. We feed Bogie at 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, followed by his insulin. Early on we made the mistake of giving him his insulin first. If he was in a mood that day and decided not to eat, it was a real problem. That only happened once or twice before we learned to wait until he ate. Our friends kid us about it, but it is absolutely true that our lives revolve around Bogie's meal and insulin schedule.
If people are concerned that their pet won't adjust to the injections, vet appointments, etc. they will. I love Bogie, and he loves me, but he can be a grump when he wants to. However getting his twice daily injections is just a part of his routine and he actually gets upset if it takes us too long. He eats his meal and walks over to the kitchen table and sits beside my husbands chair. The routine is to put him on a towel on the table and give him his shot. Thousands of shots later, we are pretty used to it, but he adjusted to it almost right away.
Our vet advised us not to do home testing. Once Bogie was regulated this seemed to work OK, but I never was completely comfortable with only knowing his levels when we did testing at the vets every few months. But everything seemed to be going along OK, so we didn't push the issue. All that changed recently.
My husband and I went away and left Bogie in a the local "pet resort" that cares for him and Cassie when we have to be away. (Cassie is his little girlfriend. She's a beautiful Bischon/Poodle mix, but you'd be hard pressed to see the poodle in her. Sweetest girl you've ever seen!) We left on a Thursday morning and returned the following evening. There had not been any signs of a problem brewing and when we picked him up about 5:00 pm, he was feeling great. We took him home, fed him, gave him his shot and went out to run a few errands. When we came home a few hours later, he was laying in the middle of the floor "sleeping". I'm not sure I would have taken too much notice because I'm sure they don't sleep as well when they're away, but he was in a place I wouldn't normally see him laying. When I went to check on him, it was apparent he wasn't asleep, but was just so weak he couldn't get up. I picked him up and held him and saw he was having small seizures. We made a mad dash to the emergency vet who put him on a glucose drip for the rest of the night. When we took him in, they weren't able to get any reading his levels had dropped so far. We were so thankful we hadn't been away for two nights. By the time he was showing serious symptoms, he probably would have been tucked in for the night at the pet resort and I honestly don't believe he could have survived the night.
We got in touch with our vet and he said to cut the insulin in half. Better too high than low and we'd keep an eye on it. It was also right around that time I found your web site. I was really interested to read how many people did home testing. He seemed to be feeling pretty good with 6 units and a few days later we took him into the vet to be checked. The technician took blood, but said they'd call me at home in an hour or so. They called very shortly after I got home and asked if he had eaten and gotten his insulin. I said that he had. It was apparent they were somewhat anxious and said his blood had tested at 40 and that I should give him a couple of spoonfuls of Karo. The vet called me later and said to cut him back to 5 units. I said how about 4 and we'll go up if we have to. Being too low was too nerve racking.
A few nights later he seemed to be staggering when he walked. I was totally paranoid by this time and ready to react to anything. The vet had said better safe than sorry and if I ever thought his levels were too low, give him Karo. I did that and then I remembered that the vet did recommend I get some of the urine testing strips. I quickly got one of those and tested him. It registered at the highest level on the color chart.
Now I knew I was wrong and he had been too high. The staggering very well may have just been from his arthritis. On top of it being too high, I had given him Karo! I was sure I killed him this time. I threw him in the car and rushed to the emergency vets. (Everyone may as well resign themselves to the fact that nothing ever happens during regular doctor's hours). He did test high ... over 600, but the vet didn't seem all that concerned and said high for the short term is not that dangerous and follow our routine in the morning and it should come down. They also said I did the right thing...always err on the side of high.
Well that was it. No more guessing for me. It was driving me crazy. I went out the next day and bought a blood glucose testing meter, using your web site to help me choose. Remember me saying Bogie could be a grump. Well it became clear early on that the inside of the lip thing wasn't going to work for us! A new vet had recently joined the practice we go to. He was much more open to home testing and helped us. He showed us how to get blood from between the toes, again not too popular. I've read that there can be differences in readings depending on where you take the blood from. I know that in humans, fingertip readings are much more accurate (or at least timely) than arm sticks. My best results have been various places on his back and rump. I'm not sure if these give as precise readings, but they are certainly better than nothing.
We ended up at 5 units and were doing great for about 2 weeks. The readings were typically between 100 and 150. Then I got a few at 190-250 range. The last few days readings at breakfast and dinner time were 450-550 so it was definitely time to do something. We bumped him up to 6 units at breakfast today. My husband fed and give him his injection before I got home tonight. When I tested him, he tested at 50. So, here we go again with the Karo and I'll call my vet in the morning. For the moment things seem to be OK. Bogie knows he feels good or bad, but I'm the one that breaks into a sweat when we get on one of these rollercoaster rides.
We thought it was very strange to go from 12 units twice a day to 5 units each time. Our vet indicated it was unusual, particularly in dogs, but he's seen it happen with cats. He said that sometimes when a dog had been regulated for a long time, their body just doesn't need as much insulin. We'll just have to keep monitoring it and see what happens. The glucose meter has helped me keep my sanity throughout and I would recommend it to anyone. During this up and down period I've discovered something else. Some people will think I'm crazy, but this is absolutely accurate. When Bogie's glucose is getting really high, the whites of his eye look bloodshot (pink). When it's very low, they are more of a light purple color. I have no idea why, but it's consistent. His tongue also changes from the bright pink it is when he's at normal levels.
It takes a lot of love, a lot of dedication and unfortunately, sometimes it takes a lot of money to keep this little guy as healthy as possible. When we were first married, we had a toy poodle who lived for 17 years. We got Bogie through the first 5 years of this disease and we're going to try real hard to get him through the next 5 years.
Thanks again for all the time you've put into this site. I wish I would have found it years ago. When Bogie was first diagnosed, we didn't know anyone with a diabetic animal. We have talked to people since, but many have not been as fortunate as we are. It's not our lifestyle of choice, but we took responsibility for this little guy when he weighed in at about a pound and we are going to do everything we can to make sure he has the highest quality of life possible.
-- Contributed by Karen and Barry Stone