My story is about Tammy, my West Highland White
Terrier, a neutered bitch. She is ten years old and was diagnosed as
diabetic on September 1999. Although the diagnosis came as a great shock
it was also a relief. I had been worried about Tammy for some time and we
had taken her to the vets on three previous occasions. But I was not
satisfied that we had got to the root cause of her problems. With
hindsight I now know she presented with classic diabetes symptoms: thirst, frequent urination, extreme lethargy and always hungry. An infected
wound in her paw would not heal despite two courses of antibiotics.
I just wanted my darling, fun-loving little pet back again. Here was a
once mischievous, energetic bundle of busyness reduced to a very sad
little dog. Quite by chance I read a magazine article about diabetes and
it struck me like a blow. Of course, this was a list of Tammy's symptoms!
I took her to the vet and told him I suspected she was diabetic. After
testing her urine he told me her blood glucose was more than three times
over the recognised normal level. I consulted another vet and she was
admitted to the animal hospital. We had an anxious time while we waited
for the tests to be completed. Thankfully, she had no liver or kidney
damage. But she proved difficult to stabilise and we had quite a few
hiccups along the way. She developed colitis as a result of putting her
on a high fibre diet. She became sick and had diarrhea and ran a high
temperature and was quite ill for a while. But the vital fact that Tammy
had been neutered when young, greatly helped in her recovery and
Eventually, I had to learn to give her insulin injections. This
proved to be my worst nightmare. While I do not mind receiving injections
I hated giving them to my poor, sick little dog. I am still upset at the
thought of the pain I inflicted on her a few times, as I made mistakes and
was clumsy. Tammy was and is very forgiving and so far she has not held it
against me. I still have sleepless nights over this problem and I dread
the mornings, as I have to inject her every day at 8:30 AM. However, long
last, after 12 days I was able to take Tammy home. But within a few hours
she was back in the vets, she now had acute bronchitis ! I feel now that
all the stresses and strains she had endured just made her susceptible to
Once again we had another uphill struggle as the steroid drugs, which
would have meant a quick recovery, are not safe for diabetic dogs. So I
nursed her through this setback and she slowly improved, though she still
coughs when stressed or excited.
My "white tornado" (as my husband affectionately calls
her) has changed drastically, she now spends a good deal of time looking
for food and despite all my efforts she has little interest in life
outside her indoor environment. She was a lifelong connoisseur of cats and
loved to watch them as they strolled through the garden or down the paths.
Tammy would run from the front to back of the house windows in order to
follow their progress as they arrogantly and nonchalantly invaded her
territory. I used to give her a ticking off for barking at the various
invaders and pursuits that made up her day. Now I would give anything to
have my noisy, happy, lovable wee pest restored to good health.
Still, it is not all bad. We have had some laughs. When I first tried to
get a urine sample, Tammy gave me such a look of shocked outrage that I
almost abandoned the attempt, as she made me laugh so much. She would slip
away to the most inaccessible corners of the garden to pee and I would
chase around in the cold and wet; while I am sure she was grinning to
herself at the merry dance she had led me. However, two months down the
line she has accepted the invasion of her privacy and freedom and knows
what's expected of her when she sees me with her sample dish.
Three weeks ago Tammy had to have dental surgery, she had five teeth
extracted. This caused a severe destablisation of her BG's and so far she
has not settled down to anything approaching a settled reading. But the
vet assures me that, given the traumatic time she has had things are not
Tammy is now on a very strict prescription diet. This consists of canned
high fibre food mixed with dried high fibre meal. This is split into two
meals a day, am and pm. Being prescription food it is very expensive, my
vet does give discount, but here in N. Ireland we do not have much choice
of suppliers. I would like to hear from other UK owners of pets with
diabetes and how they manage their pet's food, medication etc.
Particularly in N. Ireland as my hope is to try and reduce the costs of
treating all dogs. Hearing from owners in NI would be great. The more
people who are interested the better chance we have of reducing costs and
helping each other. As a novice I know I have so much to learn and without
Pets with Diabetes I would be in deep despair. It proved to be a lifeline
for me and helped me to accept what I could and could not do for Tammy.
Kind hearted people e-mailed me with words of comfort and hope when, in
deep despair, I first accessed Pets with Diabetes. I thought Tammy had
been given a death sentence now she was diabetic. I soon realised she was
a lucky dog and had a fighting chance to live her life reasonably happily.
Without the site I would have been really worried.
Tammy is still having problems with BG levels, her daily curve rises
instead of falling. She is on a high dose of insulin for her size 9 IUs
Caninsulin, but still her levels continue to rise. If anyone else knows
anything about this problem I would be grateful as vets do not know why
this happens. Also, Tammy has
developed a lump on side of neck which I was told is insulin which has
"stuck" just under the skin and she may need an operation to
remove it. Having just paid out over £600 in fees and operation in last
three weeks. I am getting very worried as to how much more I am going to
have to pay out.
All these problems take a toll on your emotions and the many little things
which I would not have noticed before now cause worry. The fireworks for
Halloween, for instance, caused such stress to Tammy she had to be sedated
for three nights consecutively. These increase hunger and thirst and cause
the dog to be wobbly and present symptoms of hypoglycemia. So it is a full
time job at the moment until hopefully, she stabilises enough to be left
alone for a few hours.
Footnote: Tammy is back in vets with seriously high BG's again, I hope she
can be stabilised quickly
Contributed by Etta
Contributed November 1999
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