Zeke, a 15 Year Old Diabetic Dog

Zeke, a 15 Year Old Diabetic Dog
Zeke is believed to be a Puggle

Update on Zeke

I am glad to report that Zeke is doing well with his diabetes.  With the last batch of Vetsulin that I purchased through the Critical Need Program I had to increase his Vetsulin dosage to 15.   When I check his urine with the Bayer diastix he measures at exactly the middle of the stick when it is time for his next injection so for Zeke this is perfect.  Whenever I start a new vial of Vetsulin I am always careful about giving Zeke more than the 14 units that his veterinarian prescribes.  It takes me a few days to a week to get the right dose and then after another week or two that vial is empty and I start the process all over again.  This is because of the strength of the Vetsulin being inconsistent which is the reason that the FDA banned Vetsulin from being sold in the US in November of 2009.  Fortunately they have allowed it again only for diabetic dogs who cannot be regulated with any other type of insulin.

So with all of the animals healthy I have started my Christmas shopping and of course that includes presents for both of the dogs and the cat.  Our other dog is 13 and 1/2 year old Baile.  He is a Rottweiler Doberman mix and other than some arthritis he has no health problems.   I was doing some online shopping the other day and came across some great pet beds and pet toys at become.com.   I was also looking at new pet carriers for our cat.  After a while I got confused by all of the choices and decided to save the task for another day.


Pet Meds for Arthritis, Rimadyl

Zeke will turn 14 in December of this year. Despite the dog diabetes he continues to be healthy and even vigorous at times. He walks most nights with me about a half mile and continues to take off running once or twice a week with our other elderly dog, Bailey,who is 13 and a half and not diabetic.

I attribute his vitality in part to the the Rimadyl that Zeke takes for his arthritic problems that older dogs get. Zeke has been on Rimadyl since January 2008. At that time he had cataract surgery to relieve the blindness that came with his diabetes. The veterinary opthamologistput Zeke on Rimadyl to reduce inflamation from the eye surgery.. After two weeks when they took him off the Rimadyl I noticed that Zeke was perkier on the Rimadyl so we kept him on it.

Zeke was taking 25 mg of Rimadyl once a day. His veterinarian noticed that Zekes liver vaklues have been climbing over the last year so we have reduced him to 25 mg of Rimadyl every other day and his liver values the bloodwork that his vet orders each month shows that his liver values are decreasing which his vet and I very happy about.

On the day off of the Rimadyl Zeke takes a medication called Ultram which is for pain. He takes 1/2 of a pill in the morning and sometimes in the evening. Zeke seems to be doing ok so far on the pet meds regimen that he is on so we will continue to monitor him.

I had an older dog named Sheena who was on Rimadyl in the mid 90s and I did not see any difference in her. So I am glad that the Rimadyl keeps Zeke acting so young.

When Zeke was diagnosed with diabetes in July of 2007 I really thought that it was the beginning of the end for him. Luckily with the help of some very patient and caring veterinarians, the right pet meds, and me, his loving dog-mom,he continues to do well.  We will be celebrating Zekes 14th birthday on Dec. 1, 2010.

Vetsulin Critical Need Program - Second Order of Vetsulin Received

I recently received my second order of Vetsulin through the Vetsulin Criticial Need program. This time I purchased 3 vials and the cost with UPS overnight shipping was about $140. The Vetsulin arrived 2 days after my veterinarian ordered it for me just like it did last time.

I have always had to monitor Zekes glucose output in his urine with Bayer Diastix which are urine dip sticks that tell you how much sugar is being put out in the dogs urine. With the Vetsulin I am obtaining through the Vetsulin Critical Need program there does seem to be the difference in strength between the vials like there always was before The only difference is now we know it is because of the inconsistency of strength in the Vetsulin itself.

When Zeke measures high for glucose on the Diastix I adjust his Vetsulin dose up a half or whole unit,. If he measures negative for glucose when it is time for his next Vetsulin injection then I lower his dose by a half unit or a whole unit.

As always I take Zeke to his veterinarian about every month or two to have his blood glucose checked. Zeke is one of those diabetic dogs who seems to always either be a little too low or a little too high when the vet checks his blood glucose levels.

Vetsulin Critical Need Program

With my supply of Canadian Vetsulin, also known as Caninsulin, running out I requested that my vet order the Vetsulin on a Wednesday.  On Friday morning the UPS driver brought my package of Vetsulin.  I was surprised at how quickly it arrived.  It was shipped via UPS Next Day Air and well packaged with a gel ice pack that was still half frozen. 

I paid $42 per 10ml bottle plus $12.90 for shipping on 2 10 ml bottles.   This is just a little more expensive than purchasing Caninsulin from the online Canadian pharmacy where I paid $88 for ten 2.5 ml bottles plus $14 for shipping.

With the Vetsulin having the issues with consistency of strength it is better for me to purchase the larger bottles so that Zeke is getting more of the standard Vetsulin dose with each injection.   I could not find the 10ml bottles of Vetsulin / Caninsulin at the one Canadian pharmacy that I could find selling Vetsulin online.

Top 10 Dog Diabetes Online Resources

I have done alot of online research on dog diabetes so that I can educate myself on how to manage Zekes' dog diabetes.  Below are some websites that I feel are very helpful and contain alot of information on dog diabetes.

K9 Diabetes (great forum on dog diabetes)

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM

Vet Info Dog Diabetes

Pet Diabetes

Pets Web MD

Diabetes in Dogs

Washington State Univ Veterinary College

Merck Vet Manual

Pets With Diabetes Forum

Canine Diabetes

Have you come across some great online resources for managing your dogs diabetes?  If so please feel free to post them in the comments below.

Update on Vetsulin Critical Need Program Pricing

I took Zeke to his veterinarain for a check up over the weekend.  She had completed the paperwork to enroll Zeke in the Vetsulin Critical Need Program which is for dogs who cannot be safely transitioned to another type of insulin.   The price to get Vetsulin directly from Intervet, the manufacturer of Vetsulin, will be $42 for a 10ml vial (we used to pay $33 and then $35 before) plus shipping costs.  There would be a flat rate shipping cost for up to 5 vials.  The most vials we could purchase at one time based on Zekes' current Vetsulin dosage would be 6 vials.   So I need to compare this to the pricing on the Caninsulin (Canadian Vetsulin) that I ordered from an online pharmacy in Canada and see what is cheaper.  Without doing the math I think the pricing is pretty similar.

Vetsulin Critical Need Program

With my stockpile of Vetsulin about to run out later this summer I ordered Caninsulin from a Canadian mail-order pharmacy that handles pet meds. Caninsulin is the same exact medication as Vetsulin only it is sold under the name Caninsulin in Canada. What I would normally pay about $66 for here cost me $88 plus $14 for shipping so it is much more expensive. The Caninsulin took about 1 week to arrive and was shipped with an ice pack in the box.

Zekes' veterinarian has enrolled him in Intervets' Vetsulin Critical Need program which is for dogs with diabetes who for health reasons cannot be switched to another type of insulin. The way the program works is that the veterinarian fills out a form and sends it to the manufacturer of Vetsulin, once they approve it, the manufacturer will send the Vetsulin medication directly to the pet owner, and then they will bill the veterinarian who will then bill the dogs owner. Sounds kind of complicated but I suppose they think this will prevent the vet from dispensing the Vetsulin to newly diagnosed dogs. 

In any case I am very glad that I will still be able to get the Vetsulin here in the USA. We do not have any information yet on how much the Vetsulin will cost under the Critical Need program. I will post an update once I know more.

Below is a link to Intervets page about the Vetsulin Critical Need program.  If you scroll about halfway down you will see it.

Vetsulin Critical Need Program

Cataract Surgery for Dogs with Diabetes

I took Zeke to Dr. Ebbinger at Veterinary Vision in Rochester, MI for an evaluation of his eyesight in November of 2007. Zeke was scheduled for Cataract Surgery in January of 2008.

Cataracts and Blindness in Diabetic Dogs

Zeke was diagnosed with dog diabetes in July of 2010 when he was about 10 years old. By October he was completely blind due to cataracts caused by the dog diabetes. I noticed that he would occasionally walk into the door frame when going outside but I just thought his eyesight might be affected by him getting older. The really bit thing that made me question Zekes' ability to see was that he no longer barked and whined like crazy I would leave him in the car for a few minutes. I later determined that this was because he could not see me walking away from the vehicle.

I took Zeke to his regular veterinarian who assessed his vision and determined that he could no longer see. I was heartbroken for Zeke, who as a country dog, was somewhat of a wild dog that would run off chasing animals in the woods or going off for a long walk by himself or with our other dogs.

During this time I also thought that Zeke was extremely depressed due to his losing his vision. Later I would determine that I was totally wrong. I will explain in another post why I thought poor Zeke was depressed.

Inexpensive Ways to Monitor Your Dogs Blood Sugar

When Zeke was first diagnosed with dog diabetes it was difficult to get his blood sugar regulated. We made many trips to his vet and she would draw his blood to check his glucose levels. This testing is necessary when you have a dog with diabetes. It is also traumatic for Zeke because the technicians would take him to the back room and poke him.

So I started purchasing Bayer Diastix to check Zekes' blood sugar. These are dipsticks for the dogs urine. I follow him around the yard when he is due for an insulin injection. When he hikes his leg to go I put a paper plate under him while he is urinating and then dip the Diastix in the urine.

After 30 seconds I read the color guide on the bottle that will tell me how high his blood glucose is. While this method is not exact and it is imortant to have your vet check the dogs blood sugar once in a while, it gives me a good idea if Zekes' glucose level is running too high or too low. If it is consistently negative then I wonder if maybe Zekes' blood sugar is too low, which has happened many times. If it is consistently high then I will raise his Vetsulin dose by .5 or 1 unit and continue to monitor him.

The best price I have found on the Diastix is from Hocks Pharmacy in Ohio. A bottle of 50 sticks is about $10 or a little less which is way cheaper than buying them in the drugstore.

Symptoms of Dog Diabetes

Dog diabetes is unfortunately common.  The average age of onset of diabetes in dogs is 6 to 9 years old.    Zeke was 9 1/2 years old when his dog diabetes was diagnosed.   Common symptoms of dog diabetes that prompt pet owners to take their dog to the veterinarian include:
  • excessive thirst and drinking lots of water 
  • urinating more than usual and in the house
  • weight loss
  • cataracts and blindness  
If your dog has the above symptoms of dog diabetes he or she should be take to the veterinarian.  The vet will perform a blood test to test the dogs glucose level.  When Zeke was diagnosed his glucose was just over 400.  In a normal dog that number would be 120 or less.

When Zeke was diagnosed with dog diabetes in July 2007 he had all of the above symptoms.  He had lost about 4 or 5 pounds although I had not really noticed that as a symptom because it was gradual I think.   Once Zeke was on a proper dose of insulin which at the time was Vetsulin his weight gradually increased back to his normal weight of about 28 pounds.

I had noticed that Zekes' vision was not as good as usual but I thought it was just his age since he was around 10 years old at the time.  Within a few months time of being diagnosed with dog diabetes Zeke did develop cataracts and became completely  blind.  For more information please read my post on Blindness in Diabetic Dogs and Cataract Surgery for Diabetic Dogs

How To Give A Diabetic Dog an Insulin Injection

When Zeke was first diagnosed with dog diabetes I was sure there would be no way that I would be able to give him an injection without being bitten.   Zeke has always been a feisty little dog.   He is very sweet but if you are doing something to him that he doesn't like he is going to let you know.

My veterinarians' assistant taught me to do the shots by lifting the nape of his neck up in the air, kind of like a tent.   Then just stick the needle in, push, and you are done.

I give Zeke his Vetsulin injection while his head is in the food bowl.  That way his mind is on the food and not on me.  So far he is tolerating it quite well.  In the rare case where I forget to give the injection while he is eating I wait for him to go outside.  While he is going out the doorway then I give him the injection.  Remember to always give the injection once the dog has eaten at least half of his / her food.

The Story of Zeke and his Dog Diabetes

This is the story of my 13 and a half year old extremely cute dog Zeke.   It took many years to figure out what breed of dog he is. I could always see some beagle in him.  One day I had him in the car and the girl working at the McDonalds drive through commented that he looked like a pug.  When I got home I looked up the cross of a beagle and a pug and it looked exactly like Zeke.  The designer breed of dog is called a Puggle.  I was so glad to finally learn what type of dog he is.

Zeke is diabetic and is doing well on Vetsulin and other pet meds. He was a stray dog that my dad found in 1997. Zeke has been with me since he was 6 months old.  The dates are out of squence as I am converting the content from a website to this blog.

I took Zeke to the veterinarian in July 2007 because he was drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating in the house. He was also waking me up at night to go outside. This is a common diabetic dog symptom. Zekes' glucose levels were in the 400s' which is very high since they should be under 140. The veterinarian put him on one shot a day of 14 units of Vetsulin which is a textbook dose based on his weight. Vetsulin is made in the Netherlands.

I would learn over the next several months that getting the right dose for your dog with diabetes is an exercise in trial and error. The dogs need for insulin can change at any time without notice. Dog Diabetes is something that your dog can live a good life with if you and your veterinarian can control the dogs blood sugar levels.

I tried to research diabetic dog food but Zeke has always been a meat eater. At his age we thought it would be difficult to switch his diet. The vet started Zeke out on one shot of 14 units of Vetsulin once per day. After two weeks of still high blood glucose levels the shot was increased to two doses of 10 units of Vetsulin twice a day. Zeke began drinking excessive amounts of water and waking me up at night to let him out so I increased the second shot to 14 units and he was fine.

Over the last 3 years I have learned alot about diabetes in dogs by reading online and by especially from the veterinarian. Zeke has been on doses as low as 8 units and as high as 15. The veterinarian always thought it was Zekes system reacting differently but now with the Vetsulin announcement I suspect that part of the problem was the inconsistent strength of the vetsulin medication. To monitor him I was taking him to the veterinarian about once a month to have his blood glucose tested.  Now the vet checks Zekes blood glucose level every couple of months. Currently I am testing his urine several times a week with Bayer Diastix urine glucose test strips which I purchase online from Hocks Pharmacy in Ohio. They have the best prices I have found and since I am in Michigan the shipping time for Ground is only 1 day and Hocks shipping cost is very reasonable.

For the past year and a half  Zeke has been on 2 shots a day of 14 units of Vetsulin It can take alot of trial and error to get each dogs dosage correct. The diabetic dogs need for insulin can change at any time without notice. It is important to watch your pet closely and report any changes to the veterinarian.

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