Molly is a 12 year old Yorkshire Terrier. Her owners first became concerned when she started drinking more than usual and having accidents in the house. Increased drinking and urinating can be a sign of many diseases, some of which could make her unwell if left untreated.
Initially we took some blood and urine from Molly. This allowed us to look for problems with organs, such as the liver and kidneys, as well as giving indicators of other things such as glucose (sugar) levels in the blood, something we look at if we are concerned about diabetes.
Whilst we were waiting for Molly’s results to come through she became poorly. Given the possible causes of her increased drinking we took an isolated blood glucose sample to measure the level of sugar in her blood. It was high, indicating that she had diabetes.
When dogs get diabetes it is usually because the body doesn’t produce enough insulin. Insulin is what converts glucose from the blood stream into a different form so that it can be stored in the body. If the body can’t convert the glucose, for example following a meal, then the levels in the blood stream remain high. We therefore had to give Molly insulin to reduce her blood glucose level.
Molly stayed in the hospital overnight following her first insulin injection. By the next day her blood glucose level was reducing so she went home to continue her insulin injections twice a day.
The important factors in managing Molly’s diabetes are to keep a consistent requirement for insulin and to give a consistent amount of insulin. This means keeping her food intake the same each day, as well as giving it at the same time. Molly gets insulin injections twice daily and is fed just before her injection. To work out exactly how much insulin Molly needs we have to check her blood glucose level over the course of a day. We don’t want it too high, but we also don’t want it too low because the body needs it as an energy source, particularly in the brain. We therefore start at quite a low insulin dose and increase it from there, depending on her body’s response. We have to wait a few days between changing her dose and retesting to make sure insulin levels are remaining consistent.
Sometimes diabetes is easily controlled but this is not always the case. Finding the right dose of insulin for Molly has proven to be a bit tricky. If other diseases, such as Cushings disease, are present it can make diabetes harder to control. Therefore a specialist ultrasonographer came and carried out an ultrasound scan of Molly’s abdomen to check for other complicating problems. Thankfully this was all normal.
Molly is now on track and is responding well to her current insulin dose. Since getting her blood sugar levels under control she has been much brighter and happy, and her drinking has greatly reduced, meaning her accidents have too.
She will likely have to continue her insulin injections for the rest of her life and we will keep a close eye on what her glucose levels are doing, as well as managing her food intake. However, aside from this Molly can lead a normal life, doing everything she loves to do!