I welcome comments or e-mails with questions regarding this article. But here's a solid and honest advise. I do not want you to base the treatment of your diabetic dog or cat on this article, or believe every information you read on some blog, unless it is confirmed and scientifically proven.
I will not be held responsible for any mistakes or harm inflicted by a pet parent, on your pet. You will need to work hand-in hand with a trusted and supportive veterinarian, to guide you through, and not a provider of internet advice. The article written by me (the author) below, may have been tried and true, but please remember that every pet is different. Every situation is different. Other underlying health issues may hinder your pet's regulation. What works for my dog, doesn't mean it would work for another dog. Each individual pet is unique. Online veterinary advice can be an important aid, but it is not a substitute. However, I would not discourage reading and doing your own research because there are some things we learn on our own. Each 'care' is different for every pet. You will still need to seek advise from a veterinarian or specialist. And don't be afraid to ask your pet's vet questions than needed to be quenched.
Matisse was 3 days shy before her 10th birthday when we found out that she was diabetic. It started with acute pancreatitis, that sent us flying to the specialists hospital. During the course of her oncologist (her cancer is a different story) and primary vet visits, the battery of tests, and a series of intensive I.V. (Intravenous) fluid therapies that she received in order to flush out the ketones from her system (she was diagnosed with diabetes ketoacidosis), her blood glucose levels remain scary high! The sadness of it all, Matisse didn't do so well during I.V. fluid therapy sessions, and the all-day B.G. (blood glucose) curve testings at the vet hospital. She was highly stressed out from being caged all day. And to be poked with sharp needles, didn't help one bit. The worse part of all? Mommy's not there to cuddle and soothe her. According to her vet and the vet technicians in the facility, Matisse continued barking, whining and whimpering. She refused to eat or drink. She would protest by nudging the food bowl, toppling the food, and being known to be vocal, she would bark and whine excessively as if calling out, "Please, no more! I want my mommy, I want to go home, NOW". The countless attempts of pulling out the I.V. needle during the fluid therapy frustrates and worries the vet hospital staff. That was when Matisse's vet suggest doing the Full, In-home B.G. (Blood glucose) Curve Testing. I will tell you what happened in a bit, okay?
Right after the devastating news about Matisse's diabetes, as a concerned and loving pet parent, I feverishly scoured the internet, hoping to find answers, and solutions, to better understand diabetes in pets. For several days, I would tirelessly read up, while trying to dodge the high emotions that's been riddling my heart and mind. I found active online forums, of which have changed my life forever! I am forever grateful to these devoted & encouraging pet parents on the diabetes forums, whose stories and personal experiences have shed light to issues left unanswered. The reality of it all, at most times, veterinarians just don't take the time to explain fully, or give helpful care tips, or nutrition advise for diabetic pets. We usually end up learning from the internet, and go from there, as we improvise.
Flowing with a vast wealth of helpful information, I basked on precious knowledge--- like the in-depth true to life stories of pets and their dedicated owners, detailed "what-to-do's, "how-to's", "No-no's", tried & tested tips---- all coming from devoted & encourageable pet parents, has given me hope and determination to take care of Matisse. Inspite of the nervousness, fear and disbelief that I felt, in decent time, I knew that things are going to get better. By taking action, learning tricks, being observant, vigilant, as well as learning from the mistakes I've made along the way, has helped me tremendously carry on each daily tasks in Matisse's care, with a brave heart. It made me confident enough that I am doing this to help Matisse. That I have not failed her. There is no cure for diabetes. However, diabetes is considered a manageable disorder—and many diabetic pets can lead happy, healthy lives.
Before I continue here, I'm sure you have questions in mind. Like say, what are the symptoms of diabetes in pets? And, what should one do once a pet is just diagnosed with diabetes? Well, read this blog and you'll find out more =) I may not be a veterinarian or a veterinarian specialist, but I assure you, I know enough to keep my sweet fur girl feeling better. As for diabetic symptoms. For one, excessive urination. Pets wetting themselves while asleep. Trust me! They have no idea that they are doing it. Urinating indoors. Now, let me tell you, this repetitive action (urinating) has nothing to do with being bad. This is a sign that a pet is ill. Never, ever punish them for doing so. You'll notice your pet's excessive water consumption. Something that's above normal. And yes, diabetes in animals is similar to that of humans. But there are foods diabetic humans consume, that pets can't. So, please bear in mind that it is not the end of the world. Pet diabetes is treatable. I repeat, TREATABLE. Putting your pet to sleep, ending its life because you are afraid to commit, is such a poor excuse!
Do not wait for weeks to have your pet checked by a veterinarian, or there will be health complications, and you don't want to know the consequences as well as the heartache involved thereafter. Then there's weight loss. Vomiting. Eating excessively without weight gain. Exercise intolerance. Cataracts. Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary tract infections). Breath that smells fruity or sweet. Listlessness. For cats, rear leg weakness.
Treating each pet is different. What works for one dog or cat doesn't mean it works for the other. But rest assure that once the pet's diabetes is regulated, diabetic dogs and cats can live long and healthy lives, that is, with proper management and veterinary care. Pets with diabetes usually require lifelong daily (two) insulin injections, special diets high in protein and fiber, and more importantly, a good fitness regimen. But, nothing rigorous.
*Screams bloody murder* YIKES. Injecting my sweet Matisse? I thought, "OH NO". Me and needles? Heck, we aren't the best of pals! After the weeks go by, it became a daily routine. Not that I enjoy administering the insulin shots, not that it's always perfect each day, but it is what it is. I am helping her feel better.
I borrowed photos from the internet to better show the injection sites, as well as how-to perform the shot, in dogs with diabetes.
I've learned that it is important to rotate injection sites, because constant use of the same spot will cause scarring on the pet's skin, which will affect how well the insulin is absorbed. And using the same spot will cause tenderness and pain. Allow this area to heal at least 6 days.
Insulin injections are always given under the skin (subcutaneously), NOT on a vein, and certainly NOT on the muscle. That would be painful to the pet.
The best places to inject insulin into a/your dog are:
On the scruff
On the side of the chest (called the lateral thorax).
On the flank, which is the fleshy part of the dog's side between the ribs and the leg.
On the side of the belly (lateral abdomen).
PLEASE REMEMBER! Alternate the 'injection' area to minimize pain. Wait 6 days before you go back to the same area. Believe me, when you pull that skin and inject that same area, your dog will wince or whimper. Do you remember after being given a flu shot or any vaccination of some sort? Yes, it stays tender for days. Dogs are not as different as us. So, be kind.
Don't forget to praise your beloved pet for being good and brave. And give them a treat to seal that trust!
TREATS: Please be advised that you should give treats that's safe for diabetic pets. DO NOT give treats that has sugar (E.g. Corn syrup, fructose, glycerin, molasses ). READ THE LABELS on the package before purchasing.
Rap's & Matisse's daily insulin routine:
- Check the insulin bottle to make sure it hasn't expired.
- Allow the insulin bottle to warm up to room temperature, and have your (covered) syringe ready.
- Feed your dog his/her food (E.g. Home-cooked, prescription diet)
- By the time your pet finishes his/her meal, check the clock/time and count 15 minutes. Other pet parents give insulin 20-30 minutes after a meal.
- Wash your hands.
- It's time! Gently swirl the bottle around to be sure it is well mixed. Do not vigorously shake the bottle!
- Wipe the rubber top of the insulin bottle with a alcohol swab.
- Carefully remove the cap or top (covering the needle) and bottom cap (plunger). In my case, I would bend the cap on both sides, and twist it back and forth till the cover comes off lose.
- Make sure you are in a bright room.
- With light hands, as not to break or bend the fine needle out of shape, withdraw the insulin into the syringe to the proper gradation- being careful not to draw in air bubbles. If bubbles appear – gently force the product back into the bottle and try again or tap the syringe with your finger until the air bubble(s) rises high enough to be expelled. You may have been holding the bottle at the wrong level or the product may be foamy from excessive agitation. SEE AIR BUBBLES INFORMATION BELOW
- Place the syringe on a clean surface and call your dog.*In Matisse's case, I let her up the sofa, where she is calmer and comfortable, and she would patiently and eagerly wait while I do the necessary preparations. Her favorite treat is in sight, so she knows that 'It's time for a shot, then a treat'. *
- Lift up a fold of skin along the dog’s back. Insert the needle almost parallel to the surface of the back but angular enough to be certain you are under the skin. Not the vein or the muscles. This will hurt the dog.
- Replace back the syringe cover(s) and properly dispose of the syringe. NEVER REUSE!
- Reward your dog by scratching his/her head, giving him/her, for example, a small piece of plain boiled chicken, and give lots of praises.
- Return the insulin in its proper box, and back in the refrigerator.
- To be sure your dog gets his/her insulin, and does not receive extra doses from other members of the family who may not know the insulin was given, always record the time of each insulin injection on a designated calendar. Or better yet, INFORM a family member.
- If your dog does not receive the entire dose of insulin, (E.g., some leaked out of the injection site ** you can tell by feeling the skin or hair for stickiness or the smell of insulin reeking**, OR the needle went through the entire fold of skin and the dose was injected into the air) do NOT, I repeat, do NOT give more insulin. Wait to give insulin until the next scheduled dose. Occasional missed doses are easily tolerated, so do not worry! Worry about over dosage. Over dosing can be fatal and can cause your dog .
If you are in the skin, rather than under it, there will be resistance in the syringe when you inject and the pet will feel pain. Part the pet’s fur to be sure the needle has actually penetrated under the dog’s skin. You can clip the hair to make this an easier and more hygienic process.
If you give the insulin shot properly, the dog will probably not fuss or even be aware that the injection was given. Skin sensation varies according to breed. Hunting and fighting breeds of dogs have considerably less reaction to injections than terriers and toy breeds.
If you are unsure about giving your pets a shot, PLEASE ask a veterinarian show you how, as well as the alternate areas. Do not guess! Write down all the questions and ask the vet, even if you have to read it. You have to make sure you are going to make it a pleasant experience for your pet, and never a traumatizing one.
THIS IS FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY! For a more specific guidance in how to perform an insulin shot on your diabetic pet, please have your pet's primary veterinarian show you how.
Here's a 'borrowed' graphic guide in how-to properly prepare and inject your diabetic pet.
If you see a BOLDEN line on top of the syringe, that would be your guide. The syringe I get is a Reli-on brand, with a capacity of 3/10 ml cc, for U-100 insulin. Like what I always say, please make sure you follow your dog's veterinarian's prescription/instructions (E.g. Dosage, syringe size).
Pull air into the syringe by pulling back on the plunger until its black tip is even with the line showing the dose you’ll need.
Following the hand position above, very gently, with light hands, so as not to break or bend the needle, push the needle through the rubber top of the bottle.
Push the plunger so that the air goes from the syringe into the bottle. And no, this does not produce air bubbles.
Gently turn the insulin bottle and syringe upside down. Slowly & steadily pull the correct dosage of insulin into the syringe by slowly pulling back on the plunger until the top of its black tip is even with the line showing your dog's insulin dose.
Count the first line going downwards. For example, your pet's dosage is 5 units of insulin. Count the lines going down to EXACTLY 5. There are several lines on the far left side of the syringe. That would be for dosages that requires a 1/2. Another thing. when measuring the amount/dosage of insulin in the syringe, make sure you measure above, not below the plunger tip. See reference photo above!
Check for air bubbles.
Bubbles in your insulin syringe won't harm your pet but if they're injected into their body, because they're taking up space in the syringe, they'll keep your pet from getting their entire insulin dose, and that can make it more difficult for them to stay in their target blood sugar range.
You'll know you're drawing too fast when you see bubbles forming in the syringe. If you do see bubbles, push the insulin back into the bottle and re-draw. Do this as many times as needed until the bubbles are gone.
Draw two more units of insulin into the syringe than you normally need. If you see bubbles, flick the syringe with your thumb and middle finger to make the bubbles rise. You must flick the syringe with some force to get the bubbles to move up, but don't flick too hard, or the needle may bend. Once the bubbles are at the top, or once you have examined the syringe and found no bubbles, push the extra two units of insulin back into the bottle. AND, don't forget to push the extra insulin back into the vial - even if there are no air bubbles in the syringe - or you'll get an overdose of insulin!
There video tutorials on YouTube that can help ease your worries about giving your pet a proper shot.
Let me suggest a few links:
Lastly. Reward your dog with love and praise and her/his favorite treat. There are a number of dog food companies that are manufacturing diabetic treats. But don't purchase a treat because it says it's for diabetic dogs. Learn to read labels. Avoid treats containing corn and soy. They are fillers and full of sugar. Look for dog treats containing whole grains such as oats and barley. Avoid treats having some form of sugar such as corn syrup, fructose or molasses. Any treat containing lean meats are good choices, but always read the caloric value of each treat. Too many good treats can still cause weight gain.
About regulation (on a pet's blood glucose level). There is no specific 'time' to it. Sometimes, the regulation process will require trying several different types of insulin, increased or decreased dosage. All these, under a primary veterinarian's supervision. For some lucky pets, B.G. regulation can be achieved sometimes within a month. For those pets that are hard to regulate, it takes 6 months or over a year from the time therapy first started. That's why it is of utmost importance to work closely with your pet's primary veterinarian during this process. Why? To avoid further health complications, OR WORSE, over dosing, or under-dosing your pet. Believe me, you wouldn't like to go to either route! And even after your pet is regulated, you will still need to maintain this relationship with your pet's health care provider (vet). Never EVER self diagnose. Never EVER increase or decrease your pet's insulin dosage without consulting a veterinarian. If your pet's veterinarian is not available, call another vet and ask questions. Tell him or her your concerns. But do not take action without professional advise. Once a pet is regulated, rechecks are done every 3-6 months. Rechecks are necessary, to maintain your pet's good health.
I did mentioned about Matisse's vet suggesting that I do the Full B.G. curve testing at home. During Matisse intensive fluid therapy sessions, instead of crying my eyes out, and worrying and not doing anything about it, I kept on reading and learning stuff about pet diabetes. Well, okay, I confess, I do sob in between takes. But I kept on the research and reading. Matisse's vet was surprised and relieved that I knew a lot about home testing. Yeah, I read about it, but that doesn't mean that I've done it. After that detailed explanation about B.G. testing, I found reliable online pet pharmacies and as an expert online shopper, I compared costs. I purchased a good & accurate glucometer kit which came with a lancing device, test strips, and lancets. I got an extra box of 26 gauge lancets, urine test strips to test for possible ketones, a box of syringes with 31 gauge, 8 mm needles, and an insulin cooler, which is great for traveling. Your pet's veterinarian will tell you what type of syringes you should buy.
Yes, I was happy with my purchases, but I admit that I was truly nervous and afraid that I would hurt Matisse, let alone, fail my girl. I'm actually getting the hang of injecting Matisse twice a day with insulin. And, I am confident doing both the Full B.G. curve tests, as well as the random tests, whenever I see something off about her. But, to be honest here, there are times when Matisse would wince or whimper when injected, which would mean that I hit a nerve or something. She would also jolt whenever the lancing tool makes a clicking sound. But, she has never ran off or hide. She trust me with all of her little doggy heart. There are pets who are frightened of the clicking sound that the lancet device makes. don't just give up. Pet parents should find ways, or try a few tricks to make B.G. testing easy for you, and less traumatizing for the pet. I for one, know that Matisse's weakness are treats. I also find that singing to her calms her down, or talking about fun things to distract her mind sure works perfect.
For those of you who do not understand how the blood glucose curve testing is done at home. You will need diabetic tools 'made for pets'. That would be an accurate and dependable Glucometer, lancing device, lancets and testing strips. I would suggest getting the whole kit. it comes with all of the above. It is important to me that I have an extra battery stashed, in case the one used in the glucometer needs to be replaced. I also make sure I have extra testing strips as these goes really fast. It's good to be always prepared.
The photo showing the diabetic supplies are my own, and not taken or borrowed from the internet.
I would start with a set time schedule.
-- I do the first test BEFORE giving a meal--- at 6:00 a.m. Jot down the result. Feed food, and then give insulin 15 minutes after the meal.
--- Second test at 10:00 a.m.
--- Third test at 2:00 p.m.
--- Fourth and last test is at 6:00 p.m.
Then, I feed Matisse her special food, and then, administer an insulin shot, 15 minutes after the meal.
I keep handwritten, as well as E-records of all of the full curve testings as well as random BG home testings on Matisse, for reference. This vital information is very helpful especially during vet visits, in case the vet wants to know how your pet's BG levels are doing. So, my best advise is to keep good records!
It takes good practice to get the hang of doing the Blood Glucose curve testing at home. A small pooling of blood is drawn from the pet using a lancet tool. Not so tiny though or the result ends up as 'error', and you will need to dispose of the test strip and replace it with a new one, and the worse part of it all, is lancing your pet all over again =( Now, if it is a success, that small pooling of blood is then tested using a glucometer, with a test strip fitted in a slot. It's best to have your pet's primary vet or vet technician to demonstrate it for you.
Like what I just previously mentioned above, when the blood sample is so tiny enough to do a fail reading, the test strip is disposed of, and replaced with a new one. You will have to lance your pet all over again. I know, I know, it's so daunting! The very first time I did the B.G. test, on the 3rd test of the day, I had to lance Matisse 3 times to get a good pooling of small blood, to achieve an accurate reading. My bad. I can't be afraid to lance her, if so, then I would end up puncturing my dog one too many times. I can't do that to her. I loathe the fact that I let her endure being lanced over and over again. Yes, the first time won't be perfect. There will be mistakes along the way. But to best avoid it, simply do it right THE FIRST TIME, if possible. The lancet's positioning, as well as the dial number (E.g. 1, 2, 3 and 4) must be accurate, as well as consistent each time. I would stay focused. I would not rush. I would certainly not allow any distraction. With a calm voice, I would talk about anything----how good she is, and how much I love her, that we are visiting her doggy friends, or going for a nice trip to the beach, just about anything to distract her mind, and keep her calm. Or, I would sing (she loves high-pitch songs like Phantom of the Opera), and then, CLICK. All done. Test the blood sample. Record result. Give her favorite treat. Praise, hug and kiss Matisse for doing a fabulous job!
This lancing device is fitted with a lancet, which is the dark blue thing that looks like the letter "i". For some pet parents, they use just the lancet, without the device. I prefer using both (that includes the clear cover, as you can see below) for accuracy and of course, because it works well for me, without making one too many mistakes.
After testing is done, I would wipe the clear cover clean with alcohol wipe, to keep it disinfected for the next use.
The test sites are either from under the lip, the ear, base of tail and callus (elbow area). I find that testing under Matisse's lip is very effective and fast. However, I would certainly try testing on the ear sometime.
In Matisse's first two home testings (December 1st & 29th, 2016), her readings were anywhere from the upper 300's, 400's, 500's, and one scary reading of 617 *gasps* and that high reading of 617 mg/dl was when she was stressed out.
The brutal truth is, it is a challenge caring for a diabetic pet. It takes a lot of commitment ---- Love, patience, time, money, and complete devotion to care for a diabetic pet. But don't let that turn you off. Please don't let that harden your heart by giving up on your pet. Sadly, there are cases when people are way too afraid of commitment. Some would not claim their pets from the veterinarian's office during a procedure. What's even heart wrenching is when people decide to put their diabetic pets to sleep.
It's NOT the end of the world. These precious creatures have hope yet! When Matisse was first diagnosed with diabetes (that was the day after being diagnosed with acute pancreatitis), I’ve had my share of restless nights whenever she would wake up several times in the early hours of the morning to pee. Oftentimes, she would wet (pee) herself and her bed, without even knowing that she did. While half-asleep, I would constantly clean after her. Instead of going back to bed, I would head to the family room and just wait out till the sun comes out. Thanks to disposable doggy diapers, it really helped ease the pain of washing her beddings. And this was not even it. She had to be hospitalized and go through several intensive fluid therapies because she had diabetes ketoacidosis. The daily care may have taken a toll on me. Yes, I've been deprived of sleep. And yes, I'm fully aware that money and time is greatly involved in my little dog's care. But, it is a personal choice. Since I held that tiny puppy in my arms, I knew that this precious little life depended on me. She has the right to live whatever years she may have left, and I am not taking that away from her. She's been doing great and nothing that's been thrown on her stopped this sweet little girl from living life the fullest. She is happy, full of beans, affectionate, as well as brave and a fighter. She knows how to live, in fact, right through those soulful big brown puppy eyes, she taught me how to see life as well as the world, in a more clearer and positive way. I admittedly derive great satisfaction and personal growth from the experience even in such a short time. I raised Matisse since she was a tiny 2-month old powder puff of a puppy, but let me tell you this, that caring for her since she went through surgery, when she had that horrible acute pancreatitis and now, diabetes, our relationship had flourished into this intense bond and personal satisfaction that I had never, until then, experienced.
Because I took the time to read and understand, I saved Matisse's life on January 2, 2017! She had a hypoglycemic episode, a really serious one! It happened when she was sitted on the grooming table. While brushing her hair (right after cleaning her ears), she started swaying from side to side. I thought, she was adjusting herself on the pillow that I laid for her to sit on. Then, her eyes began to shut and she fell on her face. She was having a hypo attack. My heart was in my throat, and to better deal with this occurrence, one must be calm--- well, I'm sorry if I wasn't!! What was expected of me? I wasn't advised what to do to prevent this from happening. It scared the doo doo out of me!!!. I was muttering "Ohhhhh baby, you'll be alright, you'll be alright. Mommy is here, Mommy is here. Stay with me baby". My sweet baby was so limped!!! I scooped her up from the table, put her on the sofa bed, flew to the kitchen, grabbed the bottle of Karo syrup, and gave her some to lick. God knows I don't have a darn clue how much to give her, I mean, for a dog her size. See what I mean? But now I know. It should've been 1-2 tablespoons. After administering the Karo syrup (Thank God for my quick-thinking), she slowly recovered, but her teeth chattered like crazy. I called the vet hospital ------ and I totally forgot it was a federal holiday , and that's what happens when one is in panic mode ------ Matisse's vet called 20 minutes after. Matisse was so lucky to be squeezed in such a full booked day. Heck, it was an emergency. Could you imagine if we brought her to the 24/hour vet emergency hospital? We would've spent double. I checked her BG level, twice before her hospitalization. First test was right after giving Karo syrup. The second test was half an hour after. The first reading (result) was 29 mg/dl, and the second reading (result) was 33 mg/dl. Both were very low and proved to be fatal. Matisse went through an I.V. fluid therapy and blood glucose curve testing. The fluids slowly raise her levels. Better high than low.
Hmm. $500 after. We brought home a whiny, exhausted, yet relieved Matisse, close to 7:00 p.m. that evening. Our poor, sweet baby just conked out that night. Where as I was VERY restless. To top that, I had a horrible nightmare! I was peering out the window and saw Matisse down the cliff. And on the other side of the cliff, there was this huge, angry dog. So I jumped out of the window, God knows how I end up landing on two feet, and I swooped up and carried Matisse in my arms. That huge, scary dog was trying to attack us. I woke up from that horrible dream, and I couldn't go back to sleep. So, I left the bedroom and sat in the family room, trying to recover from that frightful dream. I bawled my eyes out, hoping and praying that I stay strong for Matisse.
What happened to Matisse that day (hypoglycemic attack) was the scariest time for us here at home. I don't know what else to tell you if this happens again. But we've been told to spread out her food into 4 meals, throughout the day. I chose to spread it to 3 meals instead. I don't want her gaining weight as it is bad for her condition. This was so new to me, and very traumatic. I've been reading feverishly, and trying to make sure I find ways to avoid future attacks. I say, I am triple the overbearing mommy now, more than ever, after that frightening incident. Hypoglycemic episodes raises my concerns.
Providing my beloved dog Matisse with a special canine cancer diet is one of my best fighting tool used to slow down the recurring of cancer cell growth. Dogs have evolved for the past 10 million years as primarily meat eaters. There are prescription dry pet foods as well as prescription pet canned foods available at the veterinarian clinic/office, or online Pet Pharmacy, catering to pets with diabetes. But, I chose to prepare a homemade diet for Matisse because of the cancer. Some vets advocate a raw diet, while some say it should be cooked. I leaned towards 'cooked' foods. I have to keep in mind that dogs are primarily carnivores. They do best on the diet they evolved to eat, like meats. Cancer cells feed on sugar. My goal is to starve those cells, so it's best to keep being properly informed, and not feel afraid to ask questions, to better understand the disease.
I would whip up something new by alternating the meats each week, or add an ingredient or two, to make the meal less boorish. I wanted it to be more appetizing for Matisse. I would saute 95% lean ground meats with either avocado oil or coconut oil. Steam a few cups of brown rice, boil cut up a combination of either fresh brussel sprouts, fresh green beans, fresh broccoli florets, including part of the stem.
The special additions would be canned sardines (best), low fat & low sodium cottage cheese, eggs, either boiled or scrambled. I will be adding krill oil as a health booster. I will surely blog about krill oil someday soon!
Matisse has been on a strict diet right after her mass growth removal surgery. She's on a high protein, high fiber diet. Let's say, nothing in excess, but more of a balance diet. I've been most careful what I give her, especially treats. I make her snacks more interesting. I would either give her small cubes of microwaved Japanese yams, or cut up fresh fruits (especially those high in antioxidants or vitamin c). Oftentimes, we share a banana. I only give her the right amount, just to satisfy her craving for snacks. Nothing in excess. I also buy tubs of freeze-dried liver, which are known to be safe for diabetic dogs. It is made in the U.S. and have only one ingredient, and that's liver, and nothing else in it. She allows me to give her insulin shots and lance her, during B.G. testings, because she knows that she will be rewarded with treats for good behavior =) These snacks are also a 'great motivator' whenever I test her B.G. levels all day.
Before I continue on. I’d like to shed light to this issue because this can be a sensitive subject. This is in regards to my previous blog mentioning about meats. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or a conscious meat-eater, I am not by all means going to bury my head in a hole because I would be stepping on toes. With all due respect, I wouldn’t judge or say nasty comments about people’s choice of diet. I'm all for people who make that choice, their choice, but we have to remember that it's a choice. And that being one or the other does not outweigh who a person is overall. My choice of diet is not superior to the other diets. It is for health reasons. It's for me. There are foods that I don’t care much for because of its taste, or texture, so yes, it is my own choice. I am not impressing or pleasing others. I meant it without a tone of voice. I am in between a pescatarian, and a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and like what I said, it is for health reasons. Being a pescatarian, I am on a vegetarian diet, but I eat fish and seafood. And being lacto-ovo, I eat dairy products and eggs, but exclude meat and poultry. I also include fruits, vegetables raw, grilled or roasted, legumes, grains, seeds, nuts, edible flowers, mushrooms and herbs in my diet. I firmly believe that when you eat excessive protein, you stimulate powerful biochemical pathways that trigger disease. This, combined with the fact that fish provides critical omega-3 and other healthy fats and co-factors, makes a strong case for the Pescatarian form of vegetarianism. My skin is better. I am calmer and less depressed. And, I have more energy than ever. Like what I said, it's for my own good, and not to please others.
My family are a mix bag of such. Whether they are vegan, vegetarian, a flexitarian, OR, on a Mediterranean diet, which is mostly plants, limited fish, limited red meat, limited dairy, with most of them doing it for health reasons (E.g. Serious food allergies etc.), the truth is, it doesn’t make me love them any less. My mom, who is on a strict gluten-free diet for several years now due to food allergies, wouldn’t hesitate to prepare meals for family, friends, or her office staff, that are not gluten-free. It doesn’t bother her at all. She would happily clean up the pots and pans, used and reuse it again, for gluten-free dishes.
Speaking of diets, my dog's cancer diet has greatly improved her health. She lost the unhealthy weight. She looks leaner and better. She is active and happier. Oh and playful as a puppy that she once was!
Anyway. Back to the original topic. So, rechecks at the vet are done every 4-6 months, and in Matisse’s case, having other health conditions, and being resistant to treatment, she requires more frequent visits and proper management, on my part. That alone requires money. She’s just been through surgery, and back then, we were focused on the cancer treatment, only then we were bombed by the pancreatitis and diabetes diagnosis. That was the last draw that really weighed our hearts heavily. We stopped the chemotherapy. We moved on. We are fully focused on her diabetes, her special diet, her daily care, and more importantly, her happiness and comfort.
She’s on a daily schedule that includes the same amount of food, and twice daily insulin shots, the same amount of moderate, less strenuous exercise, with the same intensity, at the same times on scheduled walks. A longer or more vigorous walk than usual, for instance, can cause a diabetic dog's glucose level (sugar drop) to drop significantly and make him/her feel ill. So, depending on the weather, I take her out for 20 to 30-minute walks, not more than that, and this time, I'll be carrying a no-needle syringe with Karo syrup in it, for emergencies. AH! I did not learn that from a veterinarian. Nope. I learn that from several pet parents, in the pet diabetic forum, who often carry honey or Karo syrup, in a syringe (without the needle of course), or in packets!
Stress for a diabetic and senior pet is not a good thing. The stress levels can cause blood glucose levels to shoot up sky high. So, we are trying to keep our home as stress-free as possible and Matisse's activities more controlled because she gets excited when we have visitors or when the mail person comes to deliver mail. I'm counting out get togethers with friends or family that can oftentimes get rowdy, and throw in screaming, running kids. Yeah, that kind of gathering. However, we somehow managed to keep her calm and happy. Her hideaway is getting in her cuddle cup, and at times, I would put that (with her in it) on my lap, or beside me. Either way, she feels a sense of security and she is much calmer.
There are no miracle cures such as herbs or food supplement that will cure canine diabetes. I am not going to be fooled by those claims. Diabetes is a complex and challenging disease. For pet parents managing a diabetic pet, it can be even more complicated, since pets aren’t able to verbally communicate to us to what’s happening in their bodies or how they’re feeling. But by far, the most dangerous complication of diabetes, of which nearly took away our beloved Matisse, is a condition called ketoacidosis. Ketoacidosis is a medical emergency. If left untreated, it can be fatal, leading to coma and death.
Base on my recent experiences, I found out that insulin and food is like a relay race. Caring for a dog with diabetes can be daunting at first. Daunting in the sense that I am frightened or worried about my ability to achieve the task. Not just an ordinary task. My pet's life depends on me. All this time, I have placed her first, my top priority, that I just somehow neglected a lot of other things, like myself for instance. Lately, I have the tendency to falter when I worry about the little things. I would lose my strength and purpose. I would get carried away with such emotion because I am too afraid to make a mistake. I would end up beating myself to a pulp, blaming myself for it. That's why my family and close friends are always close by, checking on me. It's good to have that constant communication with the very people I trust because they keep me from falling on my face. I guess this is somewhat similar with a devoted mother, to a sickly human child. My love for Matisse, though she has furry paws, not tiny, chubby hands, is as great, as it is as real as that of any mother's love to her human child.
Why am I not going back to my art now? I've been visiting Facebook every now and then, but I haven't been showcasing my new art pieces. Though I am online, I am not sitting still the whole time. My focus is on Matisse. And for each emergency, it just throws me off track. For the love of God, I can't sit down and sculpt, and not see myself checking on Matisse, every single minute. Is she conscious? Is she breathing? Is she having another hypo episode? Is her B.G. level sky high? It truly breaks my concentration. I was pretty shaken up. Traumatized. That is why, I'm not giving a definite date as to when I'll be back in the doll world. God knows how much my heart yearns to sculpt, after a very long absence. I will get there when I am good and ready. This is but temporary. I will come back with a vengeance. Indeed I will.
I've learned an important lesson here. I cannot change the fact that Matisse will remain diabetic. I've been such an over-bearing pet mommy, my worrying took the best of me. It did. I allow my fears to blind me, to run my life. It finally sink in when I was given such a wonderful advise by a family member that I shouldn't let Matisse's condition stop me from seeing or being with family, let alone, live my life. I just have to learn how to deal with it. Live with it. With such a positive outlook and manner, I finally learned the importance of balance. Living life shouldn't be put on hold. To live, to learn, to beat the odds is worth the risk. It is living.