Category Archives: canine diabetes

Our Riddick was diagnosed diabetic in September 2015, at almost three and a half years old.
Read more: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/dog-diabetes-symptoms-treatment

Update on Riddick

We haven’t had to put his harness on every day in a few weeks now, and we haven’t had any seizures, thank goodness!
He loves his ball, and he loves playing, even when the other dogs get to the ball first!
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Its been weeks since he had blood drawn, but the hair on the patch on his leg that was shaved hasn’t grown back properly yet.
His sugar is kind of under control. Its fine for a day or two and then it goes up, then fine for a day or two again.
His vision has definitely deteriorated. 😦 He’s not seeing some closed doors – he sees a dark shape in a light wall, like it could be an opening. And the other day I put his bowl down in front of him and it wasn’t exactly in the corner like it usually is, and it took him a second to realise it was closer to him than usual.

He gets very disoriented when we have a house full of dogs. More than one extra puppy and he literally gets pushed out of the way when he tries to come for a cuddle. And when they play around him he tries to join in but he gets turned around and you can clearly see he’s not quite sure he’s facing the direction he wants to go anymore.
Sometimes he thinks there’s still a dog in the garden with him and he’ll stand facing where he thinks they are and bark, but they’ve already moved out of his way.
My poor baby.
He’s a happy, snuggly puppy, and he makes his face all soft for me when he comes and asks for a love, and he laughs like a seal when I play with him and cuddle him.
So we’ll be keeping the visiting dogs to a minimum from now on, and we’re going to be working on some ideas to put into place to help him find his way when he gets off track.
What I wouldn’t give to be able to get him one of these
The pictures are not really related to the news, he’s just so gorgeous I have to show off. 😛

I am officially in a toestand.

November 16th update: Blood tests and urinalysis normal so far. This is good news, but it doesn’t explain the weight loss… 😯 Fed him in small meals yesterday but last night his sugar was sky high again. Next is a specialist with her own ultrasound machine so we can look for growths or other weirdness that might be causing his diabetes. We’ll also be monitoring his weight with a couple of weigh-ins a week.
November 15th update: Back to the vet with Riddick first thing this morning… Drew blood to do tests and I left a urine sample. Riddick’s, not mine.  He’s eating his meals a little at a time through the day to prevent him puking again, and he had an anti-nausea shot last night which should last 24 hours. His vet has been chatting to a couple of professors since Riddick doesn’t respond to anything the way they expect him to, and they are all baffled. Now we wait to see what the blood and urinalysis says.
November 14th: Three weeks ago, my Riddick had hookworm, and was put on meds. It was a rough weekend, but he recovered. And he weighed 35.3kg (at his last sugar curve on September 12th he weighed 35.85kg). For Riddick, 35kg is our target weight, its healthy for him and he looks good.
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On Friday morning, November 11th I took him to the vet to weigh him ‘coz I thought he’d lost weight. I was right, he was down to 34.3KG. His blood sugar readings were looking great though, and in terms of behaviour, he was his old self, so I thought it might be as a result of the hookworm and subsequent treatment.
I increased his food with 150G/day to get him back up to 35kg with the aim of then reducing it a little to keep him at 35kg.
Yesterday he seemed a little quiet, not really wanting to play, but I put it down to the heat. Then this evening he threw up all his supper shortly after I gave him his insulin shot. And then he drank water, and threw that up too.
We headed straight for the vet, arriving shortly before they closed.
Riddick threw up in the car on the way there too, and he weighed just 33.8kg, which means he’s lost half a kilo in three days despite the extra food. That, plus the nausea, combined with his diabetes is not a good sign at all.
My daddy darling was an insulin-dependent diabetic almost all my life (he was diagnosed as an adult). I know how it works. If Riddick is losing weight but eating well it could mean that he is losing protein through dysfunctional kidneys.
When I first took him to the vet because I was worried about a diabetes he was not only peeing a lot and drinking a LOT of water, he had also lost a lot of weight.
He’s has been on insulin for a little over a year, since his diagnosis, but he could have been pre-diabetic for a while before that already. I know kidney failure is something that can happen to diabetics, and I knew when he was diagnosed that he would not live as long as a healthy Lab… But I hoped that getting him onto the right treatment would mean at least a few good years before real complications set in.
Tomorrow we’ll get blood for tests, to see what his thyroid and kidneys are doing, and I will try and get a urine sample.
I am so scared for my precious pickle… I can’t lose him already. He’s not even five years old yet! He’s my baby!

All About Our Riddick!

We’ve had a rough few months with our Riddick! Wow!

Around July, Riddick’s diabetes was no longer under control. We’d been going great guns till then, but things were going downhill fast.
We went back to the vet to do a sugar curve – as we do every month or so, just to make sure he’s still stable – and we had to make the decision to switch to the special prescribed diet for diabetic dogs. We didn’t switch when he was diagnosed as Riddick wasn’t overweight, and we didn’t want him to be starving while we worked to get his blood sugar under control.
We did a nine-day switch from the Supreme Pet Elite to the Hills Prescription Diet W/D, and while we were switching – I ended up in hospital for a week and my poor husband had to take over everything!

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Riddick’s “log book” for his blood sugar readings, this goes with us to the vet too. On the right I track his blood sugar readings and on the left I note fits, when I start a new glucose bottle, and any other changes or incidents!

Once the switch was complete, everything seemed to go so well for a while… And then his blood sugar was dropping way too low, and he was having seizures.
Unfortunately, it turned out some of the seizures were epileptic seizures, not just due to low blood sugar! We’d sort of been expecting this diagnosis, having seen one or two fits in the last few months, but now he needed medication for that too. Putting him on the Phenobarbitone tablets made him dreadfully groggy and unstable, and recovering from a fit made him groggy and unstable, and it made him thirsty and it made him pee more – just like diabetes symptoms… It was a dreadful few weeks! 😦
I was so worried about him! He couldn’t find his way around the garden or the house, after his worst seizure one Sunday night, he didn’t even recognise me! 😥
Here’s one of my Facebook updates from that time (I took this picture on one of his worst days – he barely moved that day).

I spend half my day in tears and the other half stressing... watching my precious Riddick, my bouncy, noisy hooligan stumbling around, falling over his own feet, trying to play but doing everything in slow motion... 😢💔 I pray with all my heart that he'll adjust to his meds soon and be seizure free and back to his old self again. 😔

I spend half my day in tears and the other half stressing… watching my precious Riddick, my bouncy, noisy hooligan stumbling around, falling over his own feet, trying to play but doing everything in slow motion… 😢💔 I pray with all my heart that he’ll adjust to his meds soon and be seizure free and back to his old self again. 😔

When he was coming out of a fit, I was trying to support him and help him find his water and have a pee, but I wasn’t coping – he has no handles! Then I did some late-night Googling and found a harness that would come in real handy for him, but the one I found at a local supplier cost R900… And then our friends blew us away by “crowdfunding” the cost of the harness! We are extremely grateful, and it made such a huge difference! I could actually help him walk, find the water bowl, have a pee – without breaking my back or hurting him!

Here's Riddick in his Holisticvet harness! I'm not using the back half of the harness at this point - its detachable, so if he needs it we can use it too. I've already had to use the harness, he had a bit of a twitchy-fit when we got to Doggy Paddle - Animal Hydrotherapy Centre, so we had to wait for him to come out of it to fit it properly, and then they had to help me get him in the car again. :( When we got home he was still very wobbly, so I had to help him walk to get water and have a busy, then I put him on his bed. The harness is made to be worn for extended periods of time, so I'm going to leave it on during the day and take it off at night.

Here’s Riddick in his Holisticvet harness! I’m not using the back half of the harness at this point – its detachable, so if he needs it we can use it too. I’ve already had to use the harness, he had a bit of a twitchy-fit when we got to Doggy Paddle, so we had to wait for him to come out of it to fit the harness properly, and then they had to help me get him in the car. 😦 When we got home he was still very wobbly, so I had to help him walk to get water and have a busy, then I put him on his bed. The harness is made to be worn for extended periods of time, so I’m going to leave it on during the day and take it off at night.

Guide-Dog-puppy Xander was very concerned about Riddick, and tried to stay close and comfort him after his seizures.

Guide-Dog-puppy Xander was very concerned about Riddick, and tried to stay close and comfort him after his seizures.

It took a few weeks for the side effects from the Phenobarbitone to settle down, and to get his sugar back on track. He had back-to-back sugar curves that left his ears full of little pin-prick holes from the glucometer blood tests – its the best place to get the little blood sample needed for the glucometer test strip!

Riddick's ears full of little holes from two days of sugar curves!

Riddick’s ears full of little holes from two days of sugar curves!

Thankfully we’ve now reached a point where I don’t have to put his harness on when he wakes up anymore – I have mastered clipping it on the second he shows signs of a seizure!

There was one Sunday we had to work, and I couldn't leave Riddick home unsupervised, so my sister looked after him for the day and he had a wonderful time! It was such a weight off our shoulders knowing he was being watched!

There was one Sunday we had to work, and I couldn’t leave Riddick home unsupervised, so my sister looked after him for the day and he had a wonderful time! It was such a weight off our shoulders knowing he was being watched!

The other time we spent the day away from home, we took Riddick with us. He's very vocal and fidgety in the car, unless I sit in the back seat with him, or he's in the front footwell with me! When we picked up my mom to go with us, I sat in the back seat with Riddick, and he happily lay down and napped!

The other time we spent the day away from home, we took Riddick with us. He’s very vocal and fidgety in the car, unless I sit in the back seat with him, or he’s in the front footwell with me! When we picked up my mom to go with us, I sat in the back seat with Riddick, and he happily lay down and napped!

We seem to be finally on the road to normality… His weight is holding steady at about 35.5kg, which is perfect for him. Apart from when he feasts on fallen mulberries in the garden and pushes his blood sugar up, it seems to have normalised. We now have not had a seizure in 12 days. His blood tests showed the Phenobarbitone levels at the lower end of the scale for his size, but no seizures means its working.

I had to redo Riddick's name tag to add the epilepsy diagnosis, and I had the one with the heart on it made for the people who donated money for his harness!

I had to redo Riddick’s name tag to add the epilepsy diagnosis, and I had the one with the heart on it made for the people who donated money for his harness!

We also got him a big Nylabone to chew on and play with, because he can have it as much as he likes without affecting his blood sugar!

Our Riddick Loves His Vet!

On Wednesday our Riddick spent the day at our vet again, to do another sugar curve.

It was about time for him to do another one (we do one more or less once a month to make sure his insulin dose is working properly) and I check his blood sugar at least once a day – usually before supper. I would prefer to do it before breakfast as well, but this winter his ears are just too cold in the morning to get a little pinprick blood sample for the glucometer!

Riddick has never been crazy about going to the vet, often slamming on the breaks and refusing to even enter the exam room, and even with regular visits he is hesitant, but he has gotten to know the incredible people at VVAH so well, that he is quite happy to go into the exam room with one of the two vets who are treating him, and even head down the passage to the hospital kennels where he spends the day. The vet’s staff are even playing with him as they get to know him better, and whilst it’s kind of sad that he knows his vet so well, it makes my heart glad that he is okay being there, and getting some attention too.

He’s been on insulin twice a day since last September, after being diagnosed with diabetes, and I have been checking his blood sugar at least daily since April, but his blood sugar is still not properly under control (the pink lines are his supper readings, the yellow is breakfast, the green line is our target). 😦

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We have decided, with the vet’s advice, that we will now have to put him on a specialised diet as well. We’re opting for the Hills Science Diet W/D rather than Eukanuba or Royal Canin’s diabetic food, simply because its a little cheaper. And at between R915 and R980 for a 12kg bag of this specially prescribed diet food (which is most likely only about 25 days’ food for Riddick), we really do have to find an affordable option!
His insulin already costs over R1600 a month, add to that the cost of the insulin syringes and the little test strips for the glucometer we’re spending a fortune at the vet!
Hopefully the specialised diet will help get his blood sugar stable, and perhaps even decrease his insulin dose.

A couple of people have asked why we don’t just leave things be, since he looks and acts like a perfectly healthy Lab, and you’d never guess there was anything wrong with him to look at him.
Part of my determination to make sure his blood sugar is stable is having grown up with many diabetic family members. My human family, yes, but diabetes has just as great an effect on a dog’s body as it does on a human, and I want my Riddick as healthy and happy as I can have him for as long as possible.
He’s a mama’s boy and I adore him.

So what can happen if we don’t properly treat his diabetes? Or if we wait-and-see?
Riddick has already proved to be atypical in his diagnosis, and when he developed the cataracts we should have thought to check for diabetes, but Labs are not classified as high-risk when it comes to diabetes.

Wikipedia: Dogs can have insulin-dependent, or Type 1, diabetes; research finds no Type 2 diabetes in dogs. Because of this, there is no possibility the permanently damaged pancreatic beta cells could re-activate to engender a remission as may be possible with some feline diabetes cases, where the primary type of diabetes is Type 2. There is another less common form of diabetes, diabetes insipidus, which is a condition of insufficient antidiuretic hormone or resistance to it.
This most common form of diabetes (type 1) strikes 1 in 500 dogs. The condition is treatable and need not shorten the animal’s life span or interfere with quality of life. If left untreated, the condition can lead to cataracts, increasing weakness in the legs (neuropathy), malnutrition, ketoacidosis, dehydration, and death. Diabetes mainly affects middle-age and older dogs, but there are juvenile cases. The typical canine diabetes patient is middle-age, female, and overweight at diagnosis.
The number of dogs diagnosed with diabetes mellitus has increased three-fold in thirty years. In survival rates from almost the same time, only 50% survived the first 60 days after diagnosis and went on to be successfully treated at home. Currently, diabetic dogs receiving treatment have the same expected lifespan as non-diabetic dogs of the same age and gender.

Managing diabetes is very important. Too low blood sugar leads to seizures and coma. Too high blood sugar leads to ketoacidosis which can quickly be fatal. 😦

With Bells On!

About a week ago, I put bells on all the dogs in the house, except Riddick.

As any readers will know, Riddick is my blind Lab, and I often wear a one of those rubber “awareness” bracelets with bells tied on it, so he can hear where I am.
I kept noticing though, as his eyes got worse, that he would try to play with the other dogs and lose them mid-game if they bounced in a different direction, or he’d stand in the garden and bark trying to get their attention, but they wouldn’t be near him anymore. He also often ran into them ‘coz while he knows his garden, they would often run in front of him or just be standing in his path and he can’t see them.

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Now he can actually follow them around as they play, even if they change direction, because the bells jingle when they move!

He’s having so much fun!

And – touch wood – it seems we have his diabetes under control! I am testing his blood sugar twice a day, before he eats, and he’s so much more himself again! He’s not even snatching at my fingers when I offer him a treat, he’s sleeping well and his water intake and the number of times he pees is normal.

It’s almost strange not to visit the vet every week!

Riddick Diagnosed Diabetic

😥

My baby boy spent two days at the vet (coming home at night, thank goodness) so they could monitor his blood sugar and then start him on insulin, and this morning I gave him an insulin shot after breakfast. The vet showed me how, and he’ll get two shots a day, after breakfast and after supper.
It’s a low dose to begin with because he has to adjust to it, and at the moment it doesn’t seem to do anything to his blood sugar levels, but I have to be patient.
Thanks to the training and handling he’s had since he was a little puppy, he holds perfectly still for his shot – in the scruff of his neck, and for his blood tests – a little needle-prick in his ear.

My poor boy is still losing weight – he’s already more than 3kg down – and will most likely continue to do so until we stabilise him.
The vet is sure he’ll be okay, and my head is telling me he’ll be fine, but I am so worried about him.
My heart says to feed him extra so he’ll stop losing weight, but that won’t help him at all.
He’s peeing more or less every hour, big pees as well, sometimes with quite a slow stream, and he’s waking us up in the wee hours of the morning to go and drink water or have a piddle. Hopefully, this will stop when he’s stable.
He’s not throwing up anymore like he was on Tuesday night thank goodness, he was so miserable.
And last night I was thrilled to see him have a proper poo!

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We’ll go back to the vet in a week so they can check him again and adjust his dose.

My poor baby… I don’t even want to leave him at home without me so I can keep an eye on him!

At least – unlike humans – he can’t eat anything he’s not supposed to…

Our Sweet Riddick

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I’ve been a little concerned about our Riddick’s thirst and his capacity for pee lately…
I’d go out with all the dogs for a busy, and eventually we’d all be waiting for Riddick to finish peeing – Penny and Nimble literally sitting watching him pee!
He’s always drunk a lot of water – our Labs are all thirsty dogs – so initially I didn’t notice a difference, but then he started waking us at 3am and RUNNING for the water bowl!

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Having grown up with diabetes in our family, I started suspecting it may be a possibility when  I realised he was always thirsty AND he was peeing a LOT.
Then on Friday night, I realised he had lost weight when I gave him a cuddle as he lay on the bed with me, and I could feel his spine. You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but I can see it, and he’s lost almost 3kg. He weighed just over 37kg for his annual shots and when I took him to the vet today he weight 34.6kg.

Thinking back, it’s been coming for a while. When little Nimble arrived and we were house training her, she’d go out for a piddle in the wee hours of the morning and the other dogs would often join us. Once Nimble started sleeping through, though, Riddick continued to wake us in the middle of the night. I wasn’t worried about it and put it down to him falling into the puppy routine, and that he’d get back to sleeping through the night soon enough.

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This afternoon I took him to the vet.
I explained what has me concerned, and she gave him a once-over, listening to his heart and lungs and taking his temperature. Then she did a little blood test, with a drop of blood from his ear. The little glucometer just said “HI” and my heart sank. Seven hours after his breakfast, his blood sugar was too high for the little machine to even give it a number.
The vet is pretty sure he is diabetic, but there are more tests to do to make sure. The vet wants him back tomorrow, and they’ll do a “sugar curve” from 7am to 7pm, measuring his blood sugar every hour to see how high it goes and how long it takes to come down. Then on Wednesday he’ll be back from 7am to 7pm and they will give him an insulin shot and then monitor his blood sugar again to see what kind of dose he will need in future.
My poor baby boy is going to be stuck in a place he hates, for two full days.

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The vet says most dogs are fine with one insulin shot a day, but as medical professionals are supposed to do, she also had to tell me that some dogs do better than others, some need specialised diets, and that it will affect his lifespan.

It was all I could do not to burst into tears…