When you have a diabetic dog, you definitely have to be flexible with your schedule. This afternoon, I missed out on Memorial Day with my family because Beignet’s blood sugar was too low.
I feel like hypoglycemia is one of the biggest fears of a diabetic dog owner. The best advice I can give is to stay calm. I always double check a low reading to ensure it wasn’t just a faulty reading. If your dog is symptomatic, quickly rub ~1tsp of Karo Syrup (or honey) directly on his/her gums to get the sugar quickly absorbed in their system. Know this will quickly wear off, so try to get the dog to eat right after. If you have to go to the vet, be sure and bring Karo with you for the drive in case they drop again. Continue to check blood sugars every 10-15 minutes to ensure it’s coming back up.
Beignet has only been symptomatically hypoglycemic one time – at the time I was rushing her to the ER Vet in hypovolemic shock. Needless to say she truly needed Karo Syrup that time (and more than once). Usually if her sugar is low she is not symptomatic. With her other health conditions, she doesn’t do well with sharp rises/drops in sugar. She can’t eat any of the recommended treats for hypoglycemia either which is frustrating to treat hypoglycemia with protein. I’ve had to learn how she reacts so now I feel very comfortable when she does have a low. My vet and I have discussed at length how I should respond.
If your dog does get low & your vets office isn’t open, an absolutely phenomenal resource is the Facebook group Canine Diabetes Support & Information. Someone will jump on your post and help you right away. CDSI is the largest online group and definitely the most helpful. Had some odd experiences trying out other groups and would only trust info from the CDSI group. In fact, I’m not sure I would be able to check Bennie’s blood sugar at all were it not for a member in CDSI that insisted I try checking her inner lip. Total game changer! The other benefit is you get to find support from other pet owners experiencing your same highs and lows. They have great resources available. Plus they will help you handle hypoglycemia step by step if needed.
Know with hypoglycemia a dose change in your dog’s insulin could be needed. Be sure and make a hypoglycemia plan with your vet and if that’s not possible, use the CDSI resources.
Well I better run and get Beignet fed. Hopefully she will eat after all of her treats earlier… Hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day! We are so thankful all who have served our great Nation!
Devoted Doxie Mom
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With the help of a sweet friend, I got Beignet’s first Freestyle Libre sensor on this afternoon. She seriously didn’t flinch in the slightest. It definitely hurt my heart to shave the application site though. The sensor is supposed to stay on for 14 days. If you scan the sensor with the reader device or your cell phone (app must be installed) about 3 times a day – you get 24 hours of readings! After the sensor is applied you must wait 1 hour before you are able to use the device. There is a 10 day Freestyle Libre which was the original model – it takes 12 hours after application for the sensitive to be ready to be used.
I’m super excited about this option. I have several family members that are always too nervous to home test when they keep her for me. This alleviates that issue completely. Saturday Bennie is due for a curve. I will still use my AT2 for the curve so that I can compare readings further. Below I posted our very first Freestyle Libre reading – as you can see it is very close to our AT2 read! Since the Freestyle Libre tests interstitial glucose and not blood glucose, I will have to do a lot of cross checks before I am able to fully use and appreciate our readings. Interstitial glucose readings will be slightly delayed compared to blood glucose readings. That means for example if she eats, her blood sugar will go up as her body absorbs the sugars in her food. It just takes longer for the sugar to be absorbed into interstitial tissue. Once we figure out the differences for Beignet this will probably do a great job of making sugar checks much faster and also giving us much more data since we will have day and night readings!
The cost of the Freestyle Libre is ~$80 for the reader (a 1 time purchase) and ~$60 for each 14 day sensor (so equivalent to 2 vials of AlphaTrak2 stripes a month). A prescription is required. Initially your vet has to call in 2 prescriptions – 1 for the reader and 1 for the sensors.
Last February started weeks of 1 sick little doxie. I hope today doesn’t mark a repeat for sweet Beignet. As we were actually prepping to resume our blog to help others with diabetic dog care, Bennie decided to get sick instead. This will be her first real flare up of pancreatitis/IBD since June. Gone are the days I made sure I was stocked with Cerenia – thank goodness I found some in her med drawer – I’m definitely out of practice! I did stop her 3 time a day metoclopramide a couple of weeks ago. She hasn’t had an issue until today, but maybe that’s the cause…
I decided to go ahead & make a post today though to let others know just how helpful it is when you check your diabetic’s blood sugar. Without having this information, likely I’d be spending a fortune in the ER today because it wouldn’t be safe to have her home not knowing what her blood sugar was while ill. Checking blood sugars isn’t hard. Also with new technology like the Freestyle Libre, checking blood sugars may become even easier. With that said I have not personally used the Freestyle Libre & cannot verify its accuracy in pets (https://www.freestylelibre.us). So our blog today is to encourage all our diabetic dog owners to home test if they aren’t already. If you are please comment with your favorite testing site and favorite meter!
Ironically our local ER vet has Bennie as the face of pancreatitis on their video of emergent pet conditions. 🤞🏻 they don’t get to see their pancreatitis superstar and we can stay home!!! 🙏🏻🙏🏻
Thanks for reading and I promise to get more posts up soon!
So the strangest thing as a physician on bringing my newly diabetic dog home, was that I had absolutely no idea what her blood sugar was. In the human world, a diabetic would never be sent home without a glucometer. My anxiety level greatly decreased when with the help of our vet, we got set up for a home testing program. The benefits of home testing are numerous. Your dog will be far better regulated which will decrease the likelihood of acquiring diabetic complications. Your dog will feel better. And get this – your vet bills will decrease. Thats right, your vet bills will decrease. Veterinary blood sugar checks do add up. Not to mention your most accurate blood sugars will always be at home in your pet’s everyday environment. If your dog gets stressed at the vet, they could have a falsely high or low blood sugar. Your vet will help you learn how to adjust your dog’s dose based on home tests and glucose curves. You will be able to make changes faster to regulate your dog by providing this valuable information to your vet. Pretty soon your confidence will soar and you will be pretty much managing your dog’s insulin dosing on your own. In future posts I will go through the different meter options and how to do glucose curves and interpret blood sugars. My preferred meter is the AlphaTrak2 but I will be sure to give pros and cons of all the meters including the AT2.
A few tips not mentioned in the videos: You can fill an old sock with rice that you heat up in the microwave before applying to any test site except the inner lip. This will help bring blood to the area and help you get your sample. Also many pet owners use the Genteel lancing device (www.mygenteel.com) for pain free pokes on everywhere except the inner lip. These occasionally go down to ~$70 in certain colors on Amazon. Since we’ve never needed one, we’d love some feedback from Genteel users!