Newly-diagnosed diabetic dog: need tips, please!
September 4, 2014 7:51 AM   Subscribe

My 12-13ish year old dog Max was diagnosed with diabetes this morning, after exhibiting symptoms (drink, pee, repeat) and having a blood workup at the vet. I'm looking for tips/tricks and hacks to make this easier for both Max and me.

This is Max. He's been with me 11 years and was a young adult when I got him, so he's maybe 12 or 13.

Max was having accidents and drinking more last week. But because he was very anxious after our cat Charlie died last Monday (not a good few weeks in casa Russell) I kept an eye on him. But he after he started dripping and peeing himself in his sleep (just as gross as it sounds, for both him and me) I took him to the vet last night. The blood workup showed a blood sugar level of 680, and here we are. I put on the my brave, bravado voice while talking to the vet on the phone, but now I'm on the verge of falling apart at work.

I did this 12 years ago with my previous dog, Mickey so I'm familiar with the basics. Prescriptions for the syringes and for Humulin N are on their way to my pharmacy and we are starting at 3 units twice a day. I expect to be the primary shot-giver. But I'm looking for your tips, tricks and hacks to make it easier for all of us. Thank you!
posted by kimberussell to Pets & Animals (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may know this since you've been through this, but I find most people don't. So: Do you have a AAA membership? Do you know that the prescription discount applies to pet as well as human meds? A pharmacist tipped me off to this but they don't all know about it, so you'll want to set aside some time the first time you do this. Go in with your AAA card and a printout from the AAA website about the prescription benefit applying to pets to, get them to set it up in their system, and voila, significantly cheaper insulin and syringes.

Good luck to you and Max, I hope he takes to his shots as easily as my Dimitri did. (Dimitri was very food motivated. Plunk him down in front of a bowl of food and he wouldn't even notice the needle going in.)
posted by Stacey at 7:58 AM on September 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can use a human glucose meter on the dog. Dead easy and the blood required is minuscule, I did this with my cat when I suspected that she had diabetes, she didn't but drawing a small amount of blood from her ear was dead easy. Meters can be found cheaply at Walmart etc.
posted by Ferrari328 at 8:08 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Quick fix: Switch to a raw-meat diet. Get rid of the grain-based kibble and over-cooked, gravy in cans. Give Max's syatem a healthy diet that his carnivore-nature can process easily & tastily.

The freezer section of your local pet-food store is where to start.

Best of luck.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:14 AM on September 4, 2014

Agree with above. Hit your local drugstore and find the cheapest glucometer and test strips you can find. Keep in mind that test strips get expensive: choose your glucometer based on this.

Be selective about your syringes. Get the smallest gauge/shortest needles you can find. Ask the pharmacist about this. Tell them it's for your dog.

The insulin is, truly, just under the skin. Grab a fold of skin and fat, and aim for the fat. Do this with food, and act casual.

If you're so inclined, and your dog allows for it, check his blood sugars several times a day, or maybe in the morning and at night. Collect the data. Smash it into a spreadsheet. Graph that shit. You'll get good info, see how your dog responds to insulin, and feel like you've got some control over the illness.

Switch foods, but gradually. As noted above, get rid of grain-based/carbo-loaded food. Dunno what the equivalent is for dogs, but for cats I ended up going with Fancy Feast (specifically Tender Beef Feast and Turkey & Gibs), because it's nearly all protein.

If you do end up graphing the blood sugars, you might notice peaks/troughs in levels. Consider other insulin preps after discussion with your vet. In my cat's case, I tried several kinds of insulin recommended by the vet at achieved no stable levels until I tried Lantus (insulin glargine, which, in the case of my cat, needed to be given twice daily).

Finally, get a small bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup. Watch out for signs of hypoglycemia. If there are any, rub a bunch of syrup in your dog's mouth/tongue/gums. Or shove it up his bum and give a squirt. Be sure you get the kind with the pop up/down dispenser.

Good luck. I've been in your shoes, and it's daunting. But it's doable. And before long it'll all seem pizacake. If your dog is as dumb as my cat was, he'll start loving the sound of the spring-loaded blood-poker-thing for the glucometer, as it means it's time for the Beef Feast.
posted by herrdoktor at 12:50 PM on September 4, 2014

Human glucometers are inaccurate for dogs above and below the normal blood glucose range for humans (70-110mg/dL). In general, they underestimate blood glucose by 10-15% in dogs and cats. There are veterinary glucose meters designed and calibrated for dogs and cats.

Switch to a raw-meat diet.

Besides the food safety issues with raw diets (diabetic patients are more immune-compromised than a healthy animal, and is increased risk of shedding Salmonella ever really a benefit?), and besides the fact that dogs are omnivorous and not obligate carnivores, your vet has worked with you to prescribe an insulin dose based upon Max's current diet and body condition.

For a diabetic dog, consistency with the diet is very important so that the insulin dose matches the glucose increases. Feed routinely, the same amount of the same diet at the same time every day. If Max likes treats, try raw carrots or cooked green beans.

Give insulin at the same time(s) every day. Ensure that you are injecting the insulin under the skin and not into the muscle. Make sure that your pharmacist is giving you the correct insulin and syringes (per your vet's prescription). Don't change insulin type or dosage per advice on the internet; work closely with your veterinarian. Don't put off routine glucose curves, blood work, or examinations, especially for a 12-13 year old dog.
posted by Seppaku at 3:28 PM on September 4, 2014

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