Receiving a diagnosis of Diabetes for your pet can often be just the start of a long and sometimes drawn-out, stressful process of working in partnership with your veterinarian to find stability with the condition.
Diabetes is incurable, even in cats that can often go into remission with an early diagnosis and good management, Diabetes will now be with your pet for the rest of their life.
The symptoms are varied and can affect many body systems, it can be an indicator of other serious health issues such as pancreatitis or cancer. It can become an emergency rapidly, with onset of hypoglycaemia or ketoacidosis. It also suppresses the immune system leaving patients more susceptible to secondary infections.
Management of Diabetes can be achieved through correct routine dosing of insulin, regular blood glucose checks and completion of a blood glucose curve to monitor the efficacy of the insulin dosage.
I was recently contacted by an owner with a lovely dog that had been diagnosed with diabetes. Firstly I was asked to assist with administering the insulin injections while they were away on holiday and secondly to carry out a blood glucose curve at home to provide evidence of insulin control, for the vet.
Blood glucose is the main indicator of how well, or not so well the body is metabolising insulin. Unfortunately, blood glucose can fluctuate, often as a result of stress, or part of the body’s fight or flight mechanism, so helping to keep these diabetic animals calm and keeping their stress to a minimum is crucial to create accurate glucose readings.
In the case of Lily, she often became very stressed when visiting the vet practice.
For a blood glucose curve, a whole blood sample needs to be taken by ear prick (or pedal or oral) every 1-2 hours for a period of 12 hours to produce the necessary data which is recorded on a graph. This is often done in veterinary practice. Patient’s are admitted for the day and during this time, Lily would be in a dog kennel, fed her normal food and regularly sampled by a Vet Nurse. Depending on the individual pet, this is not always a true reflection of an animals usual daily routine. Unsurprisingly, Lily’s glucose readings were very high when at the vets and not an accurate representation of how well she was managing her condition.
As a solution, by veterinary approval, I was able to visit Lily and her owner at home and perform a clinical standard glucose curve, while she was still able to go about her daily business. The owner had also informed me she was haemophobic (has a fear of the sight of blood) which made it impossible for her to do the test at home on her own. This is a test I have been performing in my work as a Vet Nurse in practice for many years, alongside running diabetic clinics.
Diabetic Clinics are a supportive consultation with a vet nurse whereby we run through all that you need to know and what to do with your recent Diabetes diagnosis for your pet. We can provide supportive informative materials and discuss owner concerns.
There is a lot of information to take on board and there will be quite a big shift in a pet owner’s day to day routine in order to accommodate the new protocols for management.
So, just to recap. The owner is now managing a dog with a long-term medical condition, Lily needs insulin injections twice a day at 12 hour intervals. There is a risk she may go into a diabetic-emergency and the owner has a fear of blood. They must ensure no tiny treats are given to the dog by well-meaning people while out on dog walks.
The doggy must make regular trips to the vets (which she doesn’t really like) for check-ups. The owners must find someone who is happy to inject Lily when they want to go on holiday, this person must stick to a strict exercise regime and must feed only a diet that is suitable for a dog with diabetes.
These are all big changes, but a new routine can be achieved with support from friends, family and veterinary staff and most importantly, Diabetes can be successfully controlled. Lily is close to achieving stability with her Diabetes and her symptoms are now far better controlled.