Living with a dog diagnosed with diabetes

Sullivan and his Diabetes 

Sullivan is a 14 year old Tibetan Terrier who has always had lots of character. However 3 ½ years ago he seemed very lethargic and I noticed he was panting a lot and drinking/peeing more than usual. A visit to Clare vets soon diagnosed him to have diabetes. I was shocked, as I never knew dogs could get diabetes, and worried about what was to come. Naomi the vet reassured me that it could be managed with a good protein diet and regular insulin injections. However inside I was thinking, “ How am I going to give him injections? How am I going to get him to sit for it? What if I can’t manage this?”
I had no choice, we love Sully to bits so I just had to manage it.

Over the next few days and weeks, the vets gave me lots of advice and guidance, taught me how to inject Sullivan and monitored his blood sugar until they were at a stable level. It was a very stressful time though as I had to make sure he ate at the same times every day and ate enough before injecting him (and he is a picky eater), it took 2 of us, with a distraction, to get him to sit still, and I was very nervous actually using the needles. It was a relief when the whole process was over, at least until the next meal and injection 12 hours later!

Things seemed to be going well for about 3 months when Sullivan suddenly developed cataracts in both eyes. It was heart breaking to see him bump into things and we had to lead him about to eat and go outside. Again Clare vets gave me hope as they thought we might be able to replace his lenses with artificial ones. As we fortunately had pet insurance, we decided to go ahead with this procedure. After a day in the hospital, I brought him home and he looked up at me as if he was seeing me for the first time. The procedure was a great success and it gave him a completely new lease of life.

Having a diabetic dog is a commitment to a routine and one of the difficulties is getting away for a holiday or even a night away. It is not everyone who can keep him in this routine and more importantly, is comfortable with giving injections. I have been lucky to find a few good and reliable people to mind him and it is really important to have this support. And anyway, no loving dog owner likes to leave their pet behind!

Sullivan has been diabetic now for 3 ½ years and things have largely been going well for him. I continually keep an eye on how much he is drinking and we have to stick to set meal times, make sure he eats enough and of course carry out the injections twice a day which I can now do myself, on a bench as if he is at the vets. He knows the routine well and it is no problem for him.

He gets his blood sugar checked every 6 months and loves going to Clare vets as everyone makes such a fuss over him. (This isn’t an ad for Clare vets but the support from everyone there, over and beyond their normal duties, has been invaluable.) He still loves his walks, he is mischievous, still tries to steal food if given half a chance and even found a girlfriend recently! Having a diabetic dog is a responsibility which needs extra time to manage it. But it makes him special and it also give us an excuse to give extra love and cuddles for Sullivan.

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