“My pet is drinking more water than usual. Do you think it could be diabetes?” This was just the question that Debbie and Robert Clarke asked about their 10-year-old Samoyed, Mishka, before he was diagnosed with diabetes by his previous veterinarian.
Mishka came to Bothell Pet Hospital in April to have a skin mass removed by Dr. Smith. Although he was already on insulin, his pre-anesthetic labwork revealed a high blood glucose (sugar) level and glucose in his urine. This was a sign that Mishka’s diabetes was not under control.
Diabetes is a disease that typically affects middle-aged or older dogs and cats. Increased water consumption, urination and hunger are hallmark signs. Overweight pets are predisposed. Diagnosis simply involves findings of high blood glucose levels in the blood and urine. This may also be accompanied by mildly increased liver enzymes, high cholesterol, or possibly a urinary tract infection. Most cases of diabetes can be treated with insulin injections every 12 hours and dietary modification, but every individual responds to insulin differently, sometimes making treatment challenging.
A simple graph, called a blood glucose curve, is used to monitor insulin treatment. The patient stays in the hospital for the day and about four to six blood samples are taken about every two hours. Not even a full drop of blood is needed in order to check the glucose level! Seeing how the glucose levels change through the day can help us decide if the insulin dose should be adjusted. Blood glucose curves also tell us about the insulin’s duration of action in the pet. Ideally, the insulin will keep the blood glucose at a normal level up until the time of the next injection. Some insulin types are shorter acting and others are longer, but every individual has a unique response.
By performing a blood glucose curve on Mishka, Dr. Smith found that Mishka’s insulin dose needed to be increased. However, even with dose increases, Mishka’s glucose level would only stay within a normal range for a short time. This meant that he would also need to switch to a longer acting insulin. Fortunately, a new insulin, called Detemir, had recently become available to humans and it looked promising for Mishka’s situation. Mishka became the first patient at Bothell Pet Hospital to try the new insulin and it proved to be the perfect insulin for him! Mishka continues to live an easy life with his doting owners, but he no longer asks Debbie and Robert to fill his water bowl multiple times a day!