The owner of a diabetic dog has appealed to other animal owners not to give up on their pets after research revealed 1 out of 10 diabetic pets are put down at diagnosis.
Rebecca South, 40, from South Yorkshire, a Senior Account Manager at MSD Animal Health, has been managing her 16-year-old terrier Lottie’s diabetes since she was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 10 in 2012. Lottie has since been kept under close supervision with a managed diet and insulin and is otherwise a healthy, happy dog.
Recent findings from the Big Pet Diabetes Survey (Neissen et al, 2017) have revealed more than 10 per cent of diabetic cats and dogs are euthanised at diagnosis, despite the fact that they can live normal, healthy lives – and some diabetic cats can even achieve remission.
Rebecca is sharing Lottie’s story in a bid to inform other pet owners that their animals can go on to live happy lives following a diabetes diagnosis, whilst also urging pet owners to check in with their vet if they spot any signs of diabetes, including weight loss despite increased appetite, excessive thirst, vomiting or lethargy.
Rebecca said: “When Lottie was diagnosed with diabetes the vet advised me that she would need some lifestyle changes and insulin treatment for the rest of her life. If I chose not to treat her, the condition would rapidly progress and I would have to put her to sleep. The thought of putting Lottie down just wasn’t an option. She is an important member of the family, and I wanted to do everything I could to keep her with us.
“Six years on, and managing Lottie’s diabetes is second nature. In fact, very quickly we got into a routine and it is normal for us now. She has twice daily feeds with a specialised diabetic diet, followed by twice daily injections of insulin with a pen.
“It does sometimes take more organisation than with a non-diabetic dog, as they have to be fed and dosed at roughly the same time every day. A few of us in my household know how to use the insulin pen, so if I’m not at home, we are able to be consistent with her treatment. She has a check up with her vet every six months and sometimes a blood test to check she is still stable and I monitor her at home for the signs that she may be becoming unstable. Consistency with diet, medication and exercise is the key to a happy, stable diabetic.”
According to Blaise Scott-Morris MRCVS, MSD Animal Health’s vet advisor for diabetes, further education is needed amongst pet owners to raise awareness of diabetes in pets and the importance of an early diagnosis to achieve better treatment.
She said: “Rebecca and Lottie’s story proves that pets can go on to live a fulfilling life after a diabetes diagnosis. To help ensure the long-term health and well-being of our diabetic pets, successfully managing the various facets of the disease and treatments is critical.
“Often animals are put to sleep as owners don’t feel they can cope with the medical side of injecting their animal every day. There are ways to make this much more manageable for clients, including the use of insulin pens similar to those used in the treatment of human diabetes.
“While 90 per cent of humans use an insulin pen to facilitate insulin injection, less than 20 per cent of diabetic pets are treated in the same way, which indicates an opportunity to improve pet diabetes management.
“MSD Animal Health has also launched a Pet Diabetes Tracker app to make the disease far easier to manage for pet owners. It’s an incredibly useful tool that enables owners to use a smartphone or tablet to track water and food consumption, exercise levels, glucose levels and insulin injections. It also allows reminders to be set for vet appointments and medication timings, providing charts and trends that owners can share with their vet. Blaise is urging pet owners to check in with their vet if they spot any signs of diabetes, including weight loss despite increased appetite, excessive thirst, vomiting or lethargy.
She added: “We will hopefully see an increase in the number of owners opting for treatment and a drop in the number of unnecessary euthanasia cases if we can succeed in educating pet owners about pet diabetes management.”