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Old 11-10-2010, 08:26 PM
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louissaint louissaint is offline
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Default Nanook earned her wings

Hello everyone. I am new to this site - and new to using forums, so please feel free to corect whatever bad etiquette I may have.

My 15 year old Siberian Husky, Nanook, was diagnosed with Diabetes yesterday. She has always been a healthy dog, except for a quickly treated case of Mamarian Cancer about six years ago.

My vet put Nanook on an insulin regimen. She is getting 8 units of Humulin-n twice a day. He suggested that we would probably need to up her dose to 10 units in a week or two.

I am new to Diabetes, and have been scouring the internet for information. I have also browsed the forum on this site. I am so glad to see so many active users here. I have some questions, and I would appreciate any and all advice and opinions. Please forgive me if these issues have already been addressed somewhere in the forums.

1. This may seem harsh, but I keep asking myself this question. My dog has already lived well beyond her life expectancy. Apart from the Diabetes symptoms, she is in fairly good health. I don't know how much time I would have left with her, either with, or without the disease. Does it make sense to put her through insulin treatment? Will her condition deteriorate - even with the treatment? When, in a dogs life, is it approptiate to stop treating this disease. In short, I guess my question is, should I let her go, or should I continue with her treatment and hope to get a few more months, or maybe even a couple more years with her?

2. I have discovered that there is no such thing as generic insulin - at least not yet. Are there reliable sources for getting insulin at cheaper prices than my local pharmacy, where it sells for about $60 per vial.

3. I understand that treating my dog will require a new level of vigilance and I will have to be at home for her more than I may normally be. I am Nanook's caretaker. I do don't have anyone to split this responsibility with, but I do have some trustworthy friends who are willing to step in if needed. Does anyone have any advice on how to enlist the help of friends without overburdening them? Should I even allow myself to share this responsiblilty from time to time?

Thank you very much for the help.

Sincerely,
Andy and Nanook
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:03 PM
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k9diabetes k9diabetes is online now
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Hi Andy,

Welcome to you and Nanook!

Let me answer the easy question first. The cheapest place to get her insulin is Walmart. Ask for the Relion brand. It is Humulin N that is packaged under a Walmart house name - exactly the same stuff you're buying at another pharmacy at twice the price. Walmart sells it for $24.88. Syringes and test supplies are also the best deal there.

As far as asking for assistance goes, in these early stages it probably would be best for you to be her sole caretaker because there is a process of working up to the right dose of insulin that takes a minimum usually of a few weeks. Once she's stable on a regimen, then it's pretty easy to train a few people to step in when needed.

If leaving her during these first few weeks is unavoidable, then of course bring your friends or whoever would be taking care of her along with you in these early steps.

Diabetic dogs don't have to have constant company. We have many folks who have full-time jobs and care for a diabetic dog. And if you learn to test her blood sugar at home, you will have a much better handle on what's happening with her diabetes, which will make it easier to manage.

Will answer your first question in a second post.

Natalie
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:10 PM
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Quote:
1. This may seem harsh, but I keep asking myself this question. My dog has already lived well beyond her life expectancy. Apart from the Diabetes symptoms, she is in fairly good health. I don't know how much time I would have left with her, either with, or without the disease. Does it make sense to put her through insulin treatment? Will her condition deteriorate - even with the treatment? When, in a dogs life, is it approptiate to stop treating this disease. In short, I guess my question is, should I let her go, or should I continue with her treatment and hope to get a few more months, or maybe even a couple more years with her?
The kind of decision you're talking about is not one that I would base on her diabetes - properly managed, that won't affect her quality of life or quantity of life. A few dogs are not crazy about the injections but everyone I know has found a way around it when they are uncooperative and feel that two or three minutes a day of disliking the objections is a small price to pay for the years of life given in return.

And in truth, most dogs... 85% I'd say easily... not only don't object to the injections, they hardly notice them. The needles that come on insulin syringes are teeny tiny thin - get ones with a 30 or 31 gauge needle. My dog used to get a mini milkbone after his injection and he was so anxious to get his treat that he usually wanted me to hurry up and inject him already!

With proper treatment, her diabetes condition will not deteriorate. I know dogs who have lived more than half of a normal life span as a diabetic. Our dog, who was poorly regulated for a year (long story) went on to live five years with diabetes and passed away from cancer at 14.5 years, a long life for his breed and his various health problems.

So the question is really about everything but diabetes. How frail is she? How comfortable is she? What other health issues does she have and how do they affect her quality of life?

You know the outcome of not treating her diabetes - death, within weeks or a month. And you may not realize that it would be a miserable existence until then with her probably violently ill from ketoacidosis at the end.

So you know my answer - yes, of course you treat her. It can only make her life better. And if there are dire quality of life issues aside from the diabetes, treating her diabetes will give her the best life possible for however long she can stay with you.

I hope that she's not in such dire shape! And I suspect you have some wonderful photos of her and hope you will share.

Natalie
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:20 PM
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MaryLea MaryLea is offline
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Welcome to the board and the group! IMO, Natalie is one of the most well-versed persons here. We're looking for a new vet because we already know more than she (the vet) does--just from being on this board for 2 weeks and having many wonderful people who take time to answer questions. Yes, most of the questions us "newbies" have are ones which have been asked before but the folks here are kind enough to answer us anyway. And they don't seem to mind.

You'll like the "family" here!
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:31 PM
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louissaint louissaint is offline
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Natalie,

Thank you very much for responding to my concerns. Regarding my first question, you have reassured me that this is the right thing to do. I guess I just needed to hear that from someone.

I appreciate the Wal-Mart tip. I don't normally shop there, but will gladly do so to save so much money on the insulin and supplies.

I am also glad to hear that training a few friends to help with Nanook's treatment is not unreasonable. I do understand that these first few weeks are very important, and I will be her sole caretaker until we can get her regimen lined out.

I really do appreciate your help. It has been a stressful couple of days for us.

All the best,
Andy and Nanook
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:44 PM
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Even if you don't plan to test blood sugar at home, maybe watch the videos of dogs having their blood sugar tested because they will give you a chance to see how calm, healthy, and unbothered these dogs are while being handled and tested.

www.k9diabetes.com/bgtestvideos.html

Chris was an OLD guy by the time I did our video. He passed away just five months later. But you will see that his diabetes was no big deal. In his case, he had many other health problems, including six heart conditions! Diabetes wasn't even a blip on his radar once we found what worked for him.

I know so well what this first week feels like. We are all scared spitless and worried sick at first. But it doesn't stay that way.

Natalie
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:23 PM
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louissaint louissaint is offline
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Natalie,

Thanks for the video links. What a good boy Chris was in the video. Sounds like you got some good time with him. I'm sorry to hear that he is gone.

My vet seemed to think that I may not want/need to test Nanook at home, but I am begining to think it is a good idea. Although, Nanook is usually very fussy about poking and prodding. I am sure she won't be near as well behaved as the dogs in the videos. We are going to have to get used to a few new things!

Becoming more informed, and finding people in the same situation has helped quite a bit. I am feeling better about this already - and Nanook is asleep on the couch - relatively oblivious.

All the best,
Andy and Nanook
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:46 PM
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

If only I had video of our first two weeks of learning to test... glad I don't!! 8)

We were hilarious, Chris and I - all thumbs and paws and confusion. I'd get a drop of blood and he would move his head or lick his lip and wipe it away. Or, my personal favorite - he would sneeze and blow it across the room. That was when I got a drop at all.

We took it slow. Tried a time or two and set it aside until evening. Tried in the evening a time or two and then set it aside until the next day. Every day I got better coordinated and knew how much blood I needed and every day Chris got better at understanding that the best way to be done was to hold still.

He was never a fan before that of having his lips handled but he got used to it.

FYI, because I was videoing that without a camera person, I had Chris on his belly with his head up for the video. But in reality I usually tested him when I could with him lying on his side, which gave me a nice flat lip space to work with. Otherwise, all the steps were the same. And it was good to be able to do it with him in almost any position. But I preferred having him lie on his side.

Natalie
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Old 11-10-2010, 11:00 PM
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CarolW CarolW is offline
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Arrow Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Dear Andy and Nanook,

Andy, I like your thinking. Realistic, straight-forward. It does seem clear that treating the diabetes is the right thing to do, as you wouldn't let Nanook die from diabetic ketoacidosis; the alternative would be to put her down now. Not necessary if you have a bit of money you can put toward the initial vet bills and diabetic supplies.

Initial costs are greater; once you settle into a routine of testing glucose levels and giving the injections, the costs go down, especially if you do the testing glucose levels yourself.

My Kumbi barely knew he had diabetes (if he knew it at all), once we got him settled into the routines and his glucose levels were looking stable. We had some trouble-free years before he got cancer and died of that.

You are surely doing something right, to bring Nanook to this ripe old age! Good for you!

Nobody here minds answering questions, no matter how often they've been answered before. This forum is THE forum I recommend to anybody looking for information on canine diabetes, partly for the excellent organization - one dog, one thread, so we can all track the dog, and also, the site owner (Natalie) and the moderators (Patty and Peggy) - and the forum members as well - all write with responsible attention and care. That means you can trust what you read here.

I've been on numbers of forums dealing with canine diabetes, and this one is so superior that this is where I spend my time.

So here's my big, fat, welcome to you and Nanook!

Wed, 10 Nov 2010 21:59:57 (PST)
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Old 11-11-2010, 06:44 AM
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Default Re: New user, just diagnosed. Greetings.

Hi Andy and welcome to you!

What a sweet picture of your girl

I wanted to add while you're at Wal-Mart you might ask them to order some ketodiastix as well. http://diabetesindogs.wikia.com/wiki/Urine_testing_stix

These are urine strips that will measure how much glucose is in her urine until you're able to test with a meter. And, they will tell you if there are ketones present, which can occur with high blood sugar. Anything more than trace warrants a trip to the vet or emergency so they can flush them from her system and give a fast acting insulin to bring her blood sugar down.

What do you currently feed her?

How much does she weigh?

Again, welcome to you.
Patty
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