Our dog, Nestle, a female, spayed, 70 lb. chocolate
lab was diagnosed two months ago, just before her eighth birthday. We have a
diabetic daughter and and so, when we saw the classic symptoms (weight loss,
increased thirst and urinary frequency, decreased capacity to hold her urine) we
suspected diabetes. We are fortunate to have a conscientious, knowledgeable vet
who has treated our pets for 20 years. Within the first week after diagnosis he
did four blood glucose curves seeking to adjust the dose and type of insulin.
With this information we settled on using Humulin N and a dosage schedule of 30
units in the morning and 25 in the evening. The vet gave us his beeper number
and his email address with instructions to contact him whenever necessary and
keep him informed of Nestle's progress.
Since the first days after diagnosis, we have been treating and testing Nestle at home. The vet suggested no change in diet unless necessary so Nestle has continued on Purina One dry food with an occasional Milkbone dog biscuit treat. She is injected and fed at ~6AM and 6PM (+/- 1 hour) and then we do a blood glucose test 2-3 hour later. We have gradually adjusted her doses to obtain better control and are now at 33 units in the morning and 27 in the evening. Her blood glucose readings are usually 80-120 in the AM and 60-100 in the PM. We use the blood glucose data for two reasons. If we get readings on two or more days that are high we raise the insulin dosage on subsequent days. Also, the readings let us know how Nestle has responded to her earlier insulin dose. We both work away from home so we are unable to monitor her on weekdays. If her blood glucose is a little low we give her a snack to lessen the likelihood that she will have an insulin reaction while we are away or asleep.
So far, we have had only one "crisis". One evening Nestle's blood glucose reading was 40 at three hours and even after a snack, had fallen to 36 at four hours. Even though she showed none of the expected signs of a insulin reaction we gave her a tablespoon of Karo syrup which raised her to 85 at five hours. Overnight we learned why Nestle was so low--she had a "stomach ache" that caused her to vomit her dinner from the previous evening. We contacted the vet (using his beeper number before office hours) and he advised that we withold insulin until she was able to hold down food, which she was able to do within a few hours. Her blood glucose readings went up (>200) but as soon as she was able to eat regularly we resumed her insulin doses and within two injections she was back to her normal range. Otherwise, we see an occasional high reading, 200-250, almost always in the morning and for no obvious reason. Initially, we were alarmed by these readings but she has always returned to normal after her next injection and our vet has advised us not to be concerned about an occasional deviation above her normal range.
Nestle tolerates both the injections and the blood tests well. We inject on her flank, rotating injection sites and switching from side-to-side. We draw blood by lancet from her upper lip (a technique we learned from this website--our vet draws blood from a vein and never heard of using the lip!).
When we first suspected that Nestle was diabetic we leaned toward having her euthanized because we were unsure that we could manage diabetes in a dog (even though we had successfully managed our daughter's diabetes until she was old enough to care for herself). The information that we found on this website, including the stories of pet owner who had overcome the challenges presented by a diabetic dog, plus the confident and aggressive approach taken by our vet convinced us that we could manage Nestle's health. We know that challenges lie ahead. But, after two months we have found that we can address Nestle's disease without excessively compromising our lifestyle or her quality of life. We now have a healthy, happy dog who is even more closely bonded to her masters.
-- Contributed by Tom and Jan Roberts