My Dog is Diabetic

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Did you know that your dog or cat can become diabetic?  We have a 15 year old dog named C.J. who started to get real sick.  She was sleeping all the time, very thirsty and was having accidents in the house, which she never used to do.

She was weak, breathing heavily, and shaking all the time, too. I thought she was diabetic because our other dog, Jake, was diabetic too.

All the symptoms she was having, excessive thirst, frequent urination, overly tired, weakness, labored breathing and shaking are common symptoms of diabetes. When we returned home from Thanksgiving dinner at my brothers she was really ill.

We took her to the vet’s first thing the next morning where they took blood and urine tests. These are two of the most common ways to determine if a human or dog is diabetic.

Normal blood sugar for a dog or human is between 70 and 130. C.J.’s was 535. We were lucky she wasn’t in a coma.

Her urine registered a plus 2.  Usually there should be no sugar in your urine, or a dog’s.  When a dog or human gets too much sugar in their system they often go unconscious because they go into what is called Diabetic Acidosis.

Diabetic Acidosis is a life threatening situation when your blood sugar gets too high, you have ketones in your blood and urine, and when you have ketoacids in your blood.

We were lucky, although C.J. had a high blood glucose, she had no ketones in her blood or urine. So C.J. was diabetic; now what?

Our family had a decision to make. Were we up to taking care of C.J. every day? We decided that C.J. meant too much to us and as a family we would pull together and do what we needed to do.

They gave her an insulin shot right away to start bringing down her glucose. They gave us a prescription for insulin syringes and then told us what insulin to get (in our state you don’t need a prescription for the insulin). Then they told us what we would need to do at home.

We would need to change her food so it was more diabetic friendly. Humans and animals that are diabetic have to eat a diet low in sugar and simple carbohydrates and eat one with more complex Carbohydrates.

The vet gave us a prescription for some special food for her. It is important that she is given the exact same amount of food each day so her glucose remains stable.

We were told that we needed to give her two shots of insulin a day, 12 hours apart. They told us that we should use a long acting insulin. We set up two times each day that we would give her the insulin. We decided 8 AM and 8 PM. It is important that it is given 12 hours apart and that we make sure she eats right after each dosage.

We started giving her five (5) units a day but that did not bring her sugar level far enough, so we increased it for another week. It then need a little more adjustment and now we have it regulated at 7 units a day.

They told us that she needed regular exercise because this would also help bring her blood glucose down.

We had to cut down the type and amount pf treats we give her. No longer are we allowed to give her biscuits or dental bones. We do however give her a little high protein food such as turkey or chicken for her treats now.

We check her blood sugar at least once a day.  We do this two hours before her evening meal because this was the time when her sugar should be the most accurate after giving her insulin in the morning. We bought a glucose monitor that is just for dogs.

If her reading is normal, we give C.J. the same amount of insulin we have been giving her because it is working. If it is too high or low we adjust how much insulin we give her.

At first our family did not know if we could do this but we took the care steps and split them up. If you have a diabetic dog, split the care steps up. Have one of the older kids do the testing at night and one do the shot at night.

We give the shot in the morning and then have the two younger ones split up the feeding and the recording of her sugar levels and how much insulin we give her.

We all sit down once a week and talk about how she is doing and what we should be doing differently.  We have made a “care book” that we comment in daily.

In this book each of us puts how much insulin we have given her, what her blood glucose was, whether she has been walked and approximate distance as well as any other comments that we think are important, such as “awful tired” or “really peppy” or something similar.

This will bring your family closer, but it will teach your kids a lot of responsibility. You will notice that doing this together as a family will all give you a sense of accomplishment and when it comes time for your family to deal with something similar you will see that they are all ready to step up to the plate and deal with it.

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