Thread: Pippi's Story
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:58 PM
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Location: Cody, Wyoming
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Smile Pippi's Story

Pippi is an 11-year-old small Miniature Schnauzer. She turned 11 years old on March 29, 2020. She was diagnosed with diabetes on May 9, 2019, so she has been a diabetic a little over 1 year. Pippi is a vivacious, humorous little dog - personality plus. Her antics always say, “Look at me! Look at me!” She demands to be the center of attention - always!

Around March of 2019, I had noticed that she was panting a lot as if she were hot, and she began needing to go out to the bathroom during the night after bedtime, which was unusual. I didn't notice her drinking lots of water at this point because there were two other mini schnauzers in the house drinking water, too (one of these was my mother's dog who was visiting). However, other than this, she seemed normal. She had gained a lot of weight after my mother came to visit with her dog, Gracey. Pippi was a tiny bit overweight before the visit - a little over 13 lbs. My mother & Gracey stayed for around 4 or 5 months and Pippi kept eating her food, then eating Gracey's food. We'd try to feed them separately, but it kept happening here and there. 9 I noticed she was gaining weight, but didn't realize how much. Sometimes it is hard to tell when you are looking at them everyday. I took her for a weight check at the vet in April - 17 lbs! Ahhh! I put her on a diet immediately, and she began losing weight. None the worse for wear, right?

On May 8, 2019, I realized something was terribly wrong with Pippi. She had acted totally normal ALL DAY. Then she started acting almost drunk, very lethargic. It was around dinnertime, so I fixed her food and put it down in front of her. She wasn't interested at all and was acting as if she were in slow motion. She could hardly put one foot in front of the other. It was so weird. She just wanted to lie down and sleep. It freaked me out to say the least because she LOVES food and eats anything that's put in front of her. She began drinking tons of water, even from a water puddle outside when I took her out before bedtime. It did not occur to me that she was displaying symptoms of diabetes as I'd never been around a dog that had it, but I knew something was dreadfully wrong with her.

The next morning, she was acting the same way, so I took her to the vet for a blood test. I thought he was going to say she had a bladder infection or something like that, but when he sat down with me with the bloodwork results, I knew something was wrong by the way HE was acting. He showed me her 600 blood glucose level and told me she was a diabetic. I sat there in shock. I know how I probably looked, and I remember exactly what I said. “Well…how did THAT happen?!”

I couldn't believe this. My other sweet mini schnauzer, Phoenix, had been diagnosed with kidney failure in November 2018 and had almost died. The vet had not expected her to live as her creatinine levels had risen to over 5. He had told me even with fluids, she would live maybe two weeks. He'd never seen a dog come back from creatinine levels that high. But my sweet Phoenix, true to her name - the Phoenix bird who rises from the ashes - came back. When Pippi was diagnosed, I was at that point giving Phoenix 300 ml of fluids a day, but if no one knew I was giving Phoenix the fluids, they would have thought she was a healthy active little dog with no problems whatsoever. So this hit me doubly hard. I now had a dog with kidney failure who was doing fantastic on daily fluids, but who could take a turn for the worst at any moment, and now I had a dog who had just been diagnosed a diabetic and needed 2 shots of insulin a day to survive. My vet told me they needed to keep my little Pippi overnight to get her regulated and that I could come back and get her the next day.

I'll never forgot that day I picked her up. The tech led me back to her little cage. A sign on the cage in huge letters said, “Diabetic”. They told me to give her 6 units a day and come back in a week for a glucose test around 1 p.m.

Pippi is a very stoic little dog and never once had a problem with me giving her shots, which I gave to her religiously after each meal. Every time I'd take Pippi to the vet around 1 p.m. for a spot check each week, she'd be at around 50, so they'd lower the insulin level. The vet thought she might still be producing some insulin. Finally, she “seemed” to level out at 3 units 2x a day for a while. I faithfully took my baby every week or so at 1 p.m. for her glucose check. She was so good. She just stared into the vet's eyes while he drew her blood, even if he couldn't get blood right away. She never acted like anything bothered her. Sooooo…I thought everything was all right. 2 shots twice a day after meals…no problem. Got it!

Pippi never slowed down, and I didn't hold her back. I had no idea that blood glucose levels rise and fall during exercise - and I never thought to ask. And I had no idea that most diabetic dogs go BLIND! She and Phoenix ran and ran at Beck Lake Park, hunted for rabbits when I fed the horses, ran around in the arena when I was riding my horse, and took walks around the block - chasing more rabbits.

Since Phoenix had been diagnosed with kidney failure, she needed food that was low in protein. When Pippi was diagnosed with diabetes, she needed a food high in protein. I fed Phoenix Freshpet (she didn't like the low protein prescription diet from the vet so I fed her the lowest Freshpet chicken roll I could find), and began giving Pippi Freshpet mixed with Purina One Healthy Weight dry food with turkey the #1 ingredient so she would have more protein.

But then Phoenix got finicky as her kidney failure progressed. Nothing seemed to taste good to her. So I began switching dog foods to try to get her to eat. It seemed that all she would eat was Ol' Roy Cuts in Gravy canned dog food from Walmart, so Ol' Roy, it was.

Because I didn't know that changing dogfoods on a diabetic dog can drastically change blood glucose levels, I switched Pippi to Ol' Roy Cuts in Gravy mixed with Purina One Healthy Weight as I didn't think there was a need to have two types of canned dogfood for both dogs.

During all this, I continued to take Pippi back to the vet once a week for spot checks. The 3 units were now not enough and her blood glucose was higher. I told the vet that I had switched her to Ol' Roy canned dog food, and that I didn't know that it mattered as long as I gave her the same amount of food every time. He said to keep her on the Ol' Roy mixed with the Purina One since that was what I was feeding her, and we would work on getting her regulated to that. He mentioned that FreshPet wasn't good for her as it had too much fat in it. We went to 3 _ units 2x a day and her blood glucose levels at spot checks were pretty good. (Phoenix soon got finicky on Ol' Roy and at the final stages of her kidney disease, all she would eat was hamburger meat and chicken that I cooked for her and a little Purina Beyond Canned food. The vet said that I should give Phoenix anything she would eat as she was nearing the end.) 9

I found this diabetic dog forum toward the end of 2019 and saw you all were using glucometers. I have learned so much from reading all your posts! Since I was so anxiety ridden about not knowing what Pippi's blood glucose was all week except for the weekly spot checks, I bought a glucometer at the end of December 2019 and began using it on Pippi. Boy, was it a nightmare at first - not for Pippi, really, but for me. I had the hardest time getting blood at first and felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. Especially when I tested her before breakfast that first morning and her blood glucose was over 400! Since I have been using the glucometer for about 7 months, now, I realize that it was probably because I was feeding her around 7 p.m. and not feeding again until 8 a.m. - that 1 hr. difference was causing her blood glucose to rise too much during the 13th hour. I now always feed & give her insulin as close to 12 hrs. apart as possible.

As I began to do blood glucose curves, I started realizing that it probably wasn't good for Pippi to be running around like she'd been doing for _ a year since she'd been diagnosed. She was probably having Somogyi overswings all over the place, and I hadn't known because I didn't have a glucometer at the beginning. I now test her 1st thing in the morning before breakfast, before I walk her in the late afternoon in case she's low and I need to give her a carb treat, and at night before supper. Her current insulin level is 4 units Novolin N 2x daily after meals and has been this way since mid-February 2020. However, depending on what her blood glucose reading is, I will either give the insulin to her immediately or wait up to 30 minutes (if her blood glucose is lower than I'd like at feeding time).

In late February 2020, I tried changing Pippi's dog food to a better brand as I was kind of embarrassed about feeding her Ol' Roy. LOL. It had been a kind of “mistake” that I was feeding her that, anyway. I thought if I had gotten her regulated so easily on Ol' Roy, surely I could get her regulated on another higher quality food.

I weaned her off the Purina One & Ol' Roy and changed her over to Blue Buffalo Healthy Weight with Chicken & Brown Rice dry dog food mixed with with some Pure Balance canned that was high in protein. Her blood glucose levels went crazily high. She would have a big food spike when she first ate and at the end of the day before her next feeding, her glucose levels would shoot up again as if she had run out of insulin. She wasn't dipping into the 100's like she had on the Purina One Healthy Weight & Ol' Roy. At first, I thought it might be a Somogyi overswing, but by checking her glucose levels throughout the day many times, it seemed like the insulin was running out or something. Then I thought that maybe I'd just give her the Blue Buffalo by itself, and it was worse than ever! I know that it takes a little while for the body to adjust, so I tried to hang in there to give it some time. But she continued to jump off the bed at night to go out to pee and drink water - and I knew what that meant. I'd check her and she'd be in the 400s or 500s. One night, when I checked her blood glucose after she had done this, it was 600! I about passed out. I gave her 1_ units of insulin after that 600 reading and then got up and checked her every 2 hrs. the rest of the night to make sure her blood glucose was coming down (thankfully it slowly came down to normal levels).

I decided at this point that it wasn't worth it to try and continue with a “better” dog food. I could have upped her insulin and tried to keep getting her blood glucose levels stable on the Blue Buffalo or try another high quality dog food. But I was scared to death that she was going to go blind, and I was going to lose my mind. She had loved the Purina One & Ol'Roy Cuts in Gravy, so I switched her back to that. Her blood glucose levels straightened out in less than a week. I don't know what it is about the Purina One Healthy Weight Turkey & the Ol' Roy Cuts in Gravy mixed together, but it works unbelievably well with the Novelin N Insulin for her. I'm very happy I made that “mistake” and fed Pippi the Ol' Roy all those months ago. If Phoenix had not gotten finicky, I never would have bought the Ol' Roy and tried it. I never would have considered giving it to Pippi if that had not happened. And Pippi might never have gotten regulated so well! She stays in the 100s most of the time, now. Usually low to mid 200s in the morning before breakfast, 100 hundreds throughout the day, and low to mid 200s again before supper. She'll sometimes have glitches in the 300s & a 400 here and there, but not often. Sometimes she's a little lower than I'd like, and I give her a small carb treat to raise her blood glucose a little. (After trying several areas, we found the metacarpal pads work best for us to do the BG test). She never ever has to go out to the bathroom at night anymore or needs to drink water in the middle of the night.

After I got my trusty PetTest glucometer, I had not been to the vet since February, as I had been going mainly for spot checks before that. I do like to go every several months for comprehensive blood tests, though. I love the two vets at this clinic. They are first rate and have never had a problem with me testing her myself. They were more than happy to have me bring in my glucometer when I first got it so I could check it with theirs. They have been very supportive.

I took her to the vet several weeks ago. Her weight was 12.3 lbs. Perfect! I asked him to look into her eyes with that instrument that can see back to the retina. He looked really good and said that she could see very well in both eyes. I knew this, of course, because I walk her everyday, and she can see a rabbit at 75 yards. But after her being a diabetic for a year and 2 months, it felt good to know her eyes still seemed to be o.k. I asked him from his experience how many dogs still had their eyesight after having diabetes this long, and he said, “Very few.” He said that if I keep doing what I'm doing, she probably would not go blind. Her blood glucose at that visit was around 150. I put her in my lap as he was talking to me. He was standing across the room from us, and he said, “Just looking at her, you'd never know.” He's right. If anybody saw her running as fast as she can off leash at Beck Lake Park or “chasing rabbits” when walking & running on leash around the block on her once-a-day escapades, they'd never know. She looks healthier and fitter than she's ever looked. Crossing my fingers & praying!

My sweet Phoenix passed away from kidney failure in October 2019. Pippi & I miss her very much.
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