Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Dog With Diabetes

For those who don't know me, I'm a dog person. Everybody has a certain animal that works best as a pet for them, for me it's dogs, and I like my dogs a hell of a lot more than I like most people.
That being said, it's coming up on two years since my dog Nugget died. Here's a picture of him.

Nugget was a 14 pound, cream colored poodle that my parents bought when were living in Tennessee in 1993. Although he was my parents dog at first, he sort of gravitated towards me over the years until my mom ended up just giving him to me.

In late summer of 2002 I noticed that Nugget had lost a lot of weight and that he was drinking a lot of water. I suspected it was diabetes and a visit to the vet confirmed that it was. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and the vet put him on two injections of insulin twice a day (in the morning and at night).

It really didn't take that much getting used to. I had to switch his diet to dog food that was safe for diabetic dogs, moniter his blood sugar levels, and of course give him his injections twice a day, but aside from that it was fairly easy to adapt to. Nugget didn't mind the injections because I would give him a dog treat (diabetic safe) each time.

He responded almost immediately to the insulin. His weight returned to normal and he stopped drinking so much water so often.

There were some diabetes-related issues: his eyes developed cataracts very quickly, within a few months. Also about three years after being diagnosed, his teeth had to be removed. The vet told me to brush them every day, which I did but still the began to decay, so the vet pulled them. From then on I had to soak his food in hot water before I gave it to him. He also twice had to have a cancerous tumor removed from his left leg. But luckily it was easily removed both times.

Once incident that occured involved hypoglycemia, extremely low levels of blood sugar. Nugget was sleeping on the bed one night while I was reading and he began having what looked to be a seizure. This was about five years after he was diagnosed but I remembered that the vet had told me to rub corn syrup on his gums if that happened. Which I did and he responded almost immediately.

It was almost six years after he was diagnosed that I woke up one morning to find him panting heavily with his gums and tongue almost white. I rushed him down to the vet and he was diagnosed with heart disease. The vet could "patch it up" for the time being but as she said it was just a bandaid not a cure.

The next few months were really hard. Because up until February of that year he had been doing fine. But he went downhill pretty quickly. There were two more visits to the vet in the time between February and June. And although things weren't easy, his quality of life was still sufficient so that I didn't have to put him to sleep, he was able to eat and drink on his own, he didn't lose control of his bladder, and although he was blind he could get around by smell.

By the last week of June however, I knew that he wasn't going to live much longer. He was having coughing fits that would keep him from sleeping and he couldn't keep any of his food down anymore. I had made the extremely painful decision to have him put to sleep when one morning I woke up and saw that he was again panting and his gums were white.

I took him to the vet and she said that there was fluid building up in his lungs and that although they could try to use medicine to clear them out, his diabetes would dampen the effect. They said they would keep him there and see what they could do. But I knew that this was it.

Around 2:00 that day I got a call from the vet saying that Nugget had died. He had gone to sleep and never woken up.

At first I really didn't feel anything, but later that day it hit me that he was really gone and I felt devastated. He had been my friend for fifteen years and now he was gone.

I had arranged before hand for him to be cremated and when his ashed were returned to me I put them into an urn for pets that I had bought on eBay. It also had his name and the years he lived on the faceplate.

The whole point of this story is that if you have a pet and they get diagnosed with diabetes, don't put them down. You could be missing out on many more years with them. I still miss my dog sometimes, but I'm really glad that I did have him taken care of.

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