Friday, January 7, 2011

Diabetic Do's and Don'ts



In the short month we've been dealing with Buzz's diabetes, I have learned A LOT. There is a lot of misleading information on the internet - so I hope this list will help someone from being lead down the wrong path. Enjoy! I will try to update this list as often as I can.


Do:
  • Check blood glucose levels often if the diabetes is newly diagnosed or if there is a change in diet and/or exercise. In our case, the amount of insulin Buzz needs varies from 1 unit to 5 units, that's a big difference. (Sidenote: We use the AlphaTRAK meter (Abbott labs, designed for animal use) and it's amazing. We pay about $14 at the vet for each blood glucose reading, or about $60 for a daily glucose curve, so being able to do the curve at home if we can saves us a lot of money. I think the meter, lancets, and 50 test strips cost us about $150, and it's $50 for every bottle of 50 test strips. I think the lancets are $15ish for 100, but you can find cheaper ones. I got a pack of 100 lancets for $3 from http://www.americandiabeteswholesale.com/.)
  • Research. Find the best food (for us it's the Royal Canine High Protein diet, but it may be different for you). Find the best insulin (for us it's ReliOn, Walmart's brand, humulin-N). Trust what your vet tells you, but also look it up for yourself. http://www.pubmed.com/ provides a great way to find actual research articles on not only diabetes, but really great articles on diabetes in dogs.
  • Find a vet that you trust and feel comfortable with. We were lucky that the internal specialist we were referred to is great, amazing even. He will text and/or call if we are having problems regulating Buzz's sugar. This definitely relieves A LOT of stress. If you don't feel absolutely comfortable w/your vet, look around.
  • Give your dog lots of praise and treats when testing blood glucose and injecting insulin. Trust me, this makes poking him/her so much easier. He/she will actually start looking forward to it. Buzz is so good at it now, when he hears the treat bag, he will run into the living room and lay down on the couch so I can prick his ear. Seriously! And even when I'm in the middle of pinching his ear to get enough blood, saying something as simple as 'good boy, Buzz' relaxes him.
Don't:
  • DON'T reuse needles. The image below shows the same needed used once, twice, and then 6 times. Just think - everytime you use that needle, metal shavings are being left behind. Do you really want that to accumulate in your best friend? Not to mention the risk of infection. I know there are a lot of websites that say it's okay, but the bottom line is - don't do it. ReliOn needles/syringes at Walmart are $12ish for 100. No need to reuse them, as they are cheap, you get a bunch, and they get the job done.
  • DON'T give too much insulin. Always err on the side of caution. It's better to have higher blood glucose than low.
  • DON'T trust websites wholeheartedly. While internet research is a great tool to help you understand diabetes in dogs, the internet is by no means an expert in this field. Some websites are just plain wrong.
  • DON'T give any treat you find at your local pet store. You will be amazed how many treats contain things like pure cane sugar, maple syrup, molasses, etc. Look at the ingredient list and stay away from sugar. We use Greenies pill pockets (both beef and chicken) and I recently found some freeze-dried treats by Pro-Treat. They are called Raw Naturals and have things like chicken, carrots, broccoli, romaine lettuce, egg, blueberries, etc in them. They look and feel like cardboard, but my dogs have been eating them up.

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