October 14, 2011 by 8junebugs
If you got here from Facebook, you probably already know that Rodney, our not-quite-6-year-old Westie, was diagnosed with diabetes this week.
How do you know when a dog has diabetes? Well, if he’s so committed to housetraining that he’ll cross his legs through a DC thunderstorm and he has four accidents in a 24-hour period, there’s a fair chance something’s wrong.
I was crossing my fingers for a bladder infection, but no dice.
There are two types of canine diabetes, much like human diabetes — it’s either your genes or your lifestyle (or one aggravating the other). Our vet never specified which Rodney has, but we do have to give him insulin shots and we don’t have to change his diet or get him a treadmill. Dude’s been on a strict diet and walked at least a mile a day since puppyhood, so…genetic.*
Poor dog. Last weekend may have been his worst ever. It took us longer that we would’ve liked to realize something was really wrong. See, Westies are prone to skin allergies/dermatitis, which means they’re also prone to needing antibiotics, antifungals, and the occasional tiered flight of steroids, which makes puppies pee. A lot. He’d been off the steroid a couple of days, but the incessant drink-pee routine hadn’t stopped. He was a bit lethargic, but…he’s been on these meds before, and it usually takes a couple of days for him to get back to normal…
We took him out more often. We put down puppy pee pads (which he never ever uses, even though he was first trained on them). And then we took a urine sample to the vet on Saturday morning.
Saturday was rough. Graham had a band review, so we drove him out to Foothill to board the bus, then went to the vet to drop off the sample. I got to hear the receptionist refer to our dog as The Incontinent Westie, which made me sad. He’s not incontinent, he’s sick.
Mean old receptionist. The other one is so much sweeter.
That night, I had to pick Graham up in Cupertino, which meant leaving Rodney alone for a couple of hours. Normally, this isn’t a problem, but he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to be left alone, so he got into a garbage can he hasn’t cared about since our first weeks in this apartment.
That garbage can contained the head of a small dahlia I’d worn in my hair to a wedding the previous weekend. Dahlias cause…er…mild to moderate gastrointestinal distress in dogs. We came home to puddles we’d kind of expected, plus a couple piles of puppy puke (which is how we knew he ate the dahlia. Also, dryer lint and gum.). So, in addition to the apparent onset of diabetes, Rodney got mildly to moderately poisoned.
Did you know the ASPCA has a poison control line? They were a bit more helpful than the interwebs. Less free, but more helpful, and the GI problem ran its course in time. Pro tip: Vets care less about gum that’s already been chewed than about a fresh stick.
Good to know.
Monday morning, the vet called for a blood sample to confirm diabetes.
Tuesday night, we learned how to give him twice-daily insulin shots. The needles are hair-thin and Rodney acts like nothing is happening even though WE’RE STICKING HYPODERMIC NEEDLES IN OUR DOG OMGWTF.
Wednesday, he started to get huffy with us — we’d been carrying him down to the street to keep him from peeing in the hallway, and carrying your dog around all the time is the fastest way to convince him he’s now the pack leader. (/end puppy-chauffeur service)
Thursday, after the pre-dinner walk, Rodney wanted to play, which led to his signature race-around-the-apartment-at-top-speed-like-you’re-in-a-damn-rodeo move (no humans required). He did that even though our AC-free apartment is in the 80s this week. Tears of relief may have been shed — we haven’t seen that in weeks (and it is hilarious — I keep neglecting to record it). It made up for the dump he took in the entryway, which we think was the last of his “I AM TEH ALPHA HERE” effort.
Today, he seems just about back to normal, which is to say that he’s alert and playing and following commands…and didn’t need to be taken out to pee until the regular morning walk. Hooray! because wow, have those 0’dark-thirty walks ever sucked.
We’re settling into a routine and figuring out what the new normal looks like. On the whole, the shots are the only difference, but he’ll need to see the vet again in two weeks and we’ll need to monitor Graham’s folks when they visit this weekend, as they are notorious for ignoring the Rules About Treats.
Ancillary benefit: We can’t give him the shot until 20 minutes after a meal, and we’re using some of that time to brush his teeth after dinner. The vet will be so pleased.
More to come on Life with a Diabetic Dog…
* The genetic thing is hard to verify. Graham got Rodney in 2005; a couple of years ago, we figured out that he almost surely came from a puppy mill, despite what the seller said. So none of the health problems he’s had, no matter how severe, have surprised me all that much.
I’m glad Rodney is back to his old self. 🙂 I can empathize with the messes… there was a period of a few months when I was cleaning up Puck potty in our apartment before we learned she had food allergies that caused colitis and vomiting. I did a lot of chasing her around with bath towels.
Thanks, Amy. Poor Puck! I had colitis years ago, and I think it must be worse for a cat who doesn’t understand what’s going on. 😦
Rodney also has food allergies and random tummy upsets; right now, he’s on the bland diet of white rice and non-fat cottage cheese to calm down the system that’s rioting for an unknown reason. The way our luck’s going, I think we can count on a parasite. Or maybe an alien.