Diabetes or Livabetes

Y’all I’m so frustrated with veterinary medicine. If your pet has diabetes, they are screwed if they have anything else. In the human world, diabetes is not a death sentence. In the vet world on the other hand… With 1 in 100 dogs being diagnosed with diabetes these days, it should be a significant focus in veterinary medicine. However, research on diabetics with other illnesses is in my opinion absolutely pathetic. My dog has treatable conditions – but in the vet world they are not treatable because of diabetes?? I’m not a vet. I’m tired of researching. Frankly in general I’m exhausted. I appreciate so much my vet trying so hard to research options but why aren’t there treatment plans? No one would accept common human illnesses with no treatment plans. Why is it okay to just put a dog down that could live a happy life?

Meanwhile I’m stuck handling this solo. No advice or help getting her to eat but told to keep going. I’m so confused on what I’m supposed to be doing. On the other hand I’m also over hearing “but it’s just a dog.” Over the fact that I know 100% that if I had a patient with these conditions they would have treatment options. I’m over sitting at home crying. I doubt the pentoxifylline trial will do anything. I’m feeling completely defeated and alone.

Do I give up? Do I travel to a specialist again? I know in my heart that it’s not time yet – she’s not ready to go but I refuse to sit back and do nothing. She’s far too precious and doesn’t deserve to ever suffer.

So I will keep helping her eat for now and making sure she knows how much she’s loved. And in the meantime I don’t want to hear that I’m crazy. That she’s just a dog. Or that I’ve already done too much. For all I know she’s sick right now because of the cracked molar she’s had since diabetes diagnosis that can’t be fixed because she’s a diabetic. I mean how crazy is it that diabetic dogs get refused by vet dentists because they are diabetic? I truly will never recover from the insanity that I’ve learned about the vet world. And I will never understand that people so easily put down dogs that have very treatable conditions. My pets are family and couldn’t be more loved.

~Beignet’s Mom

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Holidays & Hypoglycemia

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!

Sincerely,

Devoted Doxie Mom

Click on products below to start testing your dog’s blood sugar today!

Tales of a Hangry Dachshund

The look you get when you force your dog to try nasty vegetarian dog food…

Does anyone else have as many feeding issues as we do? I’m not sure even our vet team truly understands the time and energy I spend each day trying to get Beignet to eat. Mistake #1 is that both dogs free fed prior to the diabetes diagnosis. Definitely would never ever make that mistake with any future pets in the off chance we ended up right back here. So after diagnosis I had to add toppers and such to get Bennie to eat on schedule. When she became very ill 5-6 weeks post diagnosis, she had to be syringe fed about 4 times a day for weeks. After she recovered to this day she will not touch wet dog food, a previous favorite. She also doesn’t like to eat out of anything except her regular metal dog bowl.

Those are the easy things we’ve dealt with. The biggies are knowing she also has jejunal inflammatory bowel disease and chronic pancreatitis. Pancreatitis requires a low fat diet. IBD requires a novel protein or hydrolyzed protein diet. Not only do I have to ensure Bennie never gets into anything that could increase her blood sugar but now she’s so extremely restricted in what she can actually eat.

One thing I’ve learned is that there are almost no dog foods she can safely eat. Nor does any company specifically make a food for a dog with all of her conditions combined. Hydrolyzed protein foods are generally far too high in fat for her to eat. Because of the minimal options, vets are not comfortable making changes.

One thing I learned is that you can’t go by the fat percents on dog food bags. You have to calculate the dry matter fat percent using an online calculator (Ex: https://www.pawdiet.com/articles/dry-matter-basis-calculator-for-pet-food/). I now because of our ordeal have quite an extensive lists of foods I have calculated on my own so that I never deal with someone recommending a food she cannot have. https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3Ac9264731-8e11-4cbf-956f-413d835e9027

One of the most shocking issues we’ve had is that we traveled 4.5 hours to College Station for Beignet to be hospitalized with the Internal Medicine team at Texas A&M Vet School. My understanding is they are one of the nation’s leaders in gastrointestinal disorders. They insisted she should be on Royal Canin Hydrolyzed Protein dog food because it was the lowest dry matter fat food of any hydrolyzed food. We returned to Louisiana and Beignet’s blood sugars were rising higher than they had been and she continued not to feel well. Imagine my surprise when I calculated the dry matter fat percentage and discovered she was now on the HIGHEST amount of fat in a hydrolyzed. I called and the staff doctor was shocked by my revelation. She admitted they had never calculated the fat content themselves because the Royal Canin rep assured them it was the best food in dogs like Beignet. WHAT??? Apparently to this day Royal Canin falsely markets many foods to busy veterinarians that don’t take the time to do their own research. This should be illegal! They admitted to me this was not the food for my dog when I called to complain. I did my own research and had Beignet put on Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diet HA – the actual lowest fat hydrolyzed protein food after a failed attempt with Rayne Clinical Nutrition Low Fat Kangaroo food. After a few months on the Purina, Beignet’s hair finally grew back where they had shaved her stomach and she quit having flares. Problem is she hates the food. It reminds me of Kix cereal. Our vet had me start ordering grass fed ground bison to use as a topper (not sold locally so has to be shipped in since only vegetarian fed is available). Needless to say I’m completely over the feeding expenses I incur for food my dog hates.

I have to try trick after trick to get Bennie to eat so we can give her insulin. I shocked myself recently. After I removed all of my pets from Royal Canin last year (they lost a lifetime customer that’s for sure), I was willing to try just to see if it would work. Tonight was our first attempt with Royal Canin Vegetarian food – the only food I felt like she might tolerate fat-wise. My friend Heather had mentioned how much her dog Izzy had liked it. Well not so much with Beignet. She did sniff it as seen below but that was it. Back to square 1 I guess… Thank goodness she likes the bison as well as her absolute favorite treat, RooBark, 100% kangaroo jerky. I think she’d live off Roo Bark if I’d let her.

Click Above To Purchase Beignet’s Favorite Treat!

I truly believe one day I will find the right food that she will love without having to doctor it up. If anyone has any advice feel free to comment below. Or if you just need to commiserate over your own struggles.

Sometimes I wonder just which one of us is not going to survive all this! I sure hope she knows how much she’s loved!

Sincerely,

Devoted Doxie Mom

What a cool idea!  You can click on the pic above to get a dog food bowl with a built in scale!  That way you know exactly how much your dog ate!

Home Testing Made Easy!

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.

https://www.freestylelibre.us

We will post updates soon!

~Devoted Doxie Mom

Beignet with her 1st Freestyle Libre sensor.
The Freestyle Libre sensor is only slightly larger than a quarter.
Beignet’s very 1st Freestyle Libre reading crosschecked with her AlphaTrak2.

Click pic above to get your own FreeStyle Libre case just like Beignet’s pink one pictured above!  Great for anyone as clumsy as I am!

February Flashback

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!

~Devoted Doxie Mom

We Love Our Vet Crew!!!

Bennie snuggling with her favorite human, Dr. Brad Everson, during a recent visit.

When you get a life changing diagnosis like diabetes, initially you may be in a fog of sorts. Even as a (human) medical professional, the thought of taking care of a diabetic pet was unfathomable – there are so many differences between the care of humans and animals. Knowing you have an AMAZING vet to get you through this journey is key! Long before her diagnosis, Beignet formed a special bond with her vet, Dr. Brad Everson at Southern Hills Animal Hospital in Shreveport, LA ( http://www.sohillsvet.com ). She gets so incredibly excited when she realizes we’ve pulled up. She adores everyone on staff, but no one quite as much as her Dr. Brad. The joke amongst the staff is that Dr. Brad is her boyfriend😂. She will literally sneak out of an exam room to look for him in his private office if she doesn’t see or hear him. She will cry and moan if she hears him in the next room, completely jealous he’s in a room without her.

Bennie has spent quite a bit of time at Southern Hills since her diagnosis in January 2018. Even at her sickest, she is always happy to be there. If she spends the day, I don’t even get so much as a tail wag because she is never ready to leave. From the moment she walks in the door she has everyone from receptionists to everyone in the back, ready to give her tummy rubs. She’s also good at getting everyone in the waiting room to rub her tummy as well. We just can’t say enough about how much we love our vet team!!!

When it comes to having a diabetic pet, you need to think of yourself as part of a TEAM with your vet. Hopefully everyone has a vet like, Dr. Brad, that they can work seamlessly with. He is always patient, answering the LISTS of questions I bring in each visit. He encouraged me to home test, letting me know Bennie would be hopefully regulated far quicker and more accurately if I was willing to home test. Having had several diabetic pets himself, he empathized with our set feeding and insulin schedules. He has time and time again gone above and beyond for my sweet girl. He truly loves her as much as she loves him. He is typically on the floor rubbing her tummy or holding her while she showers him in doggy kisses while he fills me in on everything I need to know.

My advice for anyone going through this is to have a vet you can trust and work with. Don’t make changes to your pet’s care without consulting your vet. If you want to change insulin or other medications, discuss these changes with your vet as they may have reasons for the medications they have prescribed for your pet. Be patient. Your dog will not be regulated in days or weeks. If you don’t feel you are getting correct information get a second opinion or request to see an Internal Medicine specialist veterinarian. This may require you to travel. However, they typically will allow you to send them home testing results and blood glucose curves and give you advice between visits via phone or email. Plus I think the goal of most vets and vet specialists is to get you to the point that you are comfortable making your own insulin changes, etc if you home test. If you don’t home test, your vet will always manage your dosing based on your dog’s blood sugars in their office. Thankfully if needed, Southern Hills has an Internal Medicine Specialist, Dr Treadwell, on staff if we were to need her.

Just wanted to post this Ode to Dr. Brad! I can’t even list the ways he has gone over and above for us! He actually told me when Bennie was just 2yo that he suspected she would end up having IBD when she got older, so at least I was somewhat prepared for that diagnosis. We ❤️ the Southern Hills team and the quality of care we always know we will get! When my dogs went for their ProHeart shots, Dr. Brad’s newest partner, Dr. Tori Torres, saw us. She had taken the time to review Beignet’s whole chart when she saw us on her schedule so she would be up to date and prepared for any questions I might have on Bennie’s care which really impressed me! Another partner, Dr. Brown, discovered Bennie’s dry eye diagnosis. So thankful for our Southern Hills crew!! The best of the best!!!

-Devoted Doxie Mom

Bennie with Ms. Bonnie that runs the kennel area at Southern Hills. Bonnie always makes sure my diva gets extra spoiled on all the days she is sick enough to spend the day with Dr. Brad. And she always comes to our exam room to get her snuggles if we are just in for a quick visit. Bennie trying to tell Ashley to rub her tummy instead of posing for yet another pic.Bennie giving kisses to LJ, one of her many besties at Southern Hills.

Making sure she gives everyone a turn to give her some love!

Beignet does NOT like sharing snuggles with Andouille!

An Eye For An Eye….

Pictured above is our 3rd vet specialist selfie of 2018. Beignet and I just made our first 6 hour round trip visit to see Dr. John Warren at Veterinary Eye Institute in Plano, Texas (http://www.veterinaryeyeinstitute.com/meet-our-doctors/john-r-warren/ ). When Beignet got diagnosed with diabetes, all I could focus on was that she was only 7 years old and could soon be blind due to this diagnosis. Was she going to be able to beat diabetes? Of course I just assumed as a physician she would be the best controlled diabetic my vet has ever seen (and yes Bennie decided that wasn’t going to be the case…). Was her perfect control going to be soon enough to prevent diabetic cataracts? I sure hoped so.

The doctor in me immediately thought I needed to do all the preventative precautions for a diabetic. However we had a few obstacles. First there are very few vet specialists in our area. Secondly, Beignet threw me a major ball when she became extremely ill just weeks after her diagnosis. Worries over her eyes after a 6 week struggle for her life were just a distant memory.

Dr. Warren said it is always best to see a vet ophtho as soon as possible after a diabetes diagnosis. They can guide you through what to expect. Work with you on preventative care options. And also diagnose cataracts and other eye conditions that may already be present. Depending on the source, 50-70% of dogs diagnosed with diabetes develop cataracts during the first year after their diagnosis. Beignet has 4 more months until her 1 year anniversary so we hope that we beat those odds. However all diabetics will eventually get cataracts. My almost 12yo nondiabetic has early lenticular cataracts from old age now. My understanding is that diabetic cataracts respond better to surgery than nondiabetic cataracts, so at least there’s that if I can afford surgery when our time comes.

What I didn’t realize with my focus on cataracts was the next most common eye disorder in diabetics, Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (aka dry eye). After a bout with corneal ulcers, Beignet received this new diagnosis weeks ago. Having the same diagnosis, I have some idea of what she’s been going through. However my dry eye doesn’t involved nasty snot pouring from my eyes all the time (thankfully). Beignet can at times not open her eyes. She blinks repetitively. I’m constantly having to clean her eyes and apply drops. If your diabetic dog has mucus discharge of any color from his/her eyes, please have your dog tested for dry eyes or better yet, see a vet eye doctor if you haven’t already. When Beignet saw Dr. Warren, she still had ZERO tear production in either eye. She has to do a month of once daily steroid drops along with a compounded 3 time a day immmunosuppressant drop that will hopefully stimulate tear production. If dogs fail therapy they can transplant a saliva gland from the mouth to the eye which causes nonstop tearing. We hope we don’t have to resort to this….

We will be traveling back to see Dr. Warren in a month. Please pray that her eyes are responding to treatment. We are feeling a little defeated at the moment. I keep thinking – what next?? Before 2018, we had minimal issues. So far, it’s been diabetes followed by chronic pancreatitis followed by suspected jejunal inflammatory bowel disease followed by a new heart murmur and now this. You can see with all that, why we aren’t the perfectly controlled diabetic I initially thought she would be (although is there even such a thing???). Her eye issues require more time than anything else. And for the record her heart issue was insignificant. Despite it all except for the 6 weeks in February/March and this past month this sweet baby has been nothing but happy no matter what she had to deal with. I’m hoping we get back to that fun loving, tummy rub obsessed, tail wagging, loves everyone happy girl again!

To end, my advice is even if you have to drive, get your dogs eyes checked! Even if you can’t afford cataract surgery, getting established might improve you dog’s long term outcomes. And what if your dog has treatable dry eye, like Bennie or another easily treatable condition? Not treating can lead to vision loss. I definitely don’t think a $125 visit was at all unreasonable especially in that it was the nicest vet office I’ve ever visited. Just wish he was a little closer!!!

~Devoted Doxie Mom

Addendum : A lot of diabetic dog owners go ahead and start lubricant eye drops when their dog is diagnosed to hopefully prevent their dog from getting dry and becoming more susceptible to corneal ulcers. Here is the type many use pictured above. Click on the pic to purchase.

Although it was recommended that Beignet not use just drops.   Instead, Dr. Warren insisted she use the GenTeal Tears Severe Gel (not to be confused with the version for nighttime that’s a step up from this which we were told not to use). You can purchase the gel by clicking on the pic ABOVE

There is no set brand of eye wash you have to use. It’s best to use a dog version of an eye rinse though or sterile water whereas the GenTeal brand of dry eye products are actually made for humans but okay to use on pets. I’ve posted a link to our favorite sterile eye wash below. Click on the pic to purchase.