Zeke, a 15 Year Old Diabetic Dog

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

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.