Wylie Adapts Well to Insulin


This article written by Gaeil Farrar appeared in the Williams Lake, British Columbia Tribune on January 21, 1999.  Reprinted with permission.


When little Wylie was just four-and-a-half years old, she became seriously ill. She started urinating and drinking excessively, and throwing up. The decline in her health was rapid, and so was the diagnosis - diabetes.

Her caring owners decided she was worth the time and expense to treat with insulin. She was after all, their baby and companion. As you might now have suspected, Wylie is a dog, a cute, even-tempered, fun-loving, spaniel/terrier cross.

They could have decided to put Wylie down, but when Anne and Flip Blake decided to adopt Wylie and her companion, Jake, they agreed to accept the responsibility of their care completely. "I feel that when you have a pet it is for life. They are not throwaways," says Anne. "If something had to be done for then, we made a commitment to do it for them."

Flip had grown up on a ranch so learning to give Wylie her twice daily insulin shots was no problem for him. Anne took a little longer to get over her squeamishness about the task. Now that Wylie and her parents have relaxed into their routine Wylie even waits expectantly for her shots, which are given to her in the scruff of the neck during her twice daily mealtimes.

Wylie eats a special veterinary prescribed high fiber diet with no sugar. To help keep her blood sugar at normal levels she eats a meal morning and evening, plus a mid-day snack. Like humans with diabetes, Wylie’s greatest immediate health risk is having her blood sugar drop so low that she falls into a coma and possibly dies. The risk of low blood sugar or hypoglycemia is greatest when Wylie is doing a lot of exercise, and about four hours after her insulin shot when the insulin in her body is peaking.

To prevent any such wild fluctuations in her blood sugar, Wylie gets a midday snack each day, and an extra treat if they are out for the day hiking or cross country skiing. They also keep a bottle of Karo syrup on hand. If Wylie did look wobbly or happened to pass out they would rub a bit of the liquid sugar on her gums, to raise her blood sugar level.. But so far they have been able to avoid this type of crisis.

Once or twice a week the Blakes also test Wylie’s blood sugar level using a glucometer. They prick her upper lip to take the blood sample. Every three or four months they also do a 12-hour curve, taking and testing Wylie’s blood sugar level every two hours. If the readings show her blood sugar level is out of the normal range they consult with their veterinarian on what changes to make in her insulin dosage.

Anne says dogs with diabetes used to be given three or four years to live, but with careful monitoring, they are hoping Wylie will live a long and full life. But like her human counterparts, Wylie is susceptible to the same health risks associated with diabetes that afflict humans. One of these side effects is the growth of cataracts in the eyes.

For the past couple of years Wylie has been losing her sight to cataracts. Appearing only able to see large shapes, Wylie was finding her way mostly by smell, and started bumping into things on their walks. Rather than let her go blind, Anne and Flip decided to give Wylie eye surgery to remove the cataracts.

January 4 they took Wylie to a veterinary eye surgeon in Coquitlam who removed the cataracts and fitted Wylie’s eyes with artificial lenses. "As soon as she woke up from the surgery she could see," says Anne. Instead of snuffling around the ground for her treats, six-year-old Wylie can now catch a tossed treat in mid air. She is also back joining Jake and Flip while he works his woodlot, and cross-country skiing with them.

"They are our babies. They give us lots of pleasure," says Anne. "If we had allowed Wylie to go blind it would have been a very poor quality of life for her." Adds Flip, "she’s just a good buddy and easy to take wherever you go."

Story contributed by Anne and Wylie.

Article about Wylie's eye exams (neat pictures). 
Anne's story about Wylie, diabetes, and cataracts.


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Contributed February 1999
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