For this blog post, we invited Lara’s human friend, Veronika, to tell us more about how they met and how is the life of a dog with diabetes.
Lara’s initial situation
I met Lara in the neighborhood she used to be a watchdog in a car mechanic’s yard. She was often hungry, thirsty, and alone, wandering the neighborhood.
This went on for several years until one day when I noticed she was disconcertingly thin. Underneath the thin layer of fur, you could clearly see her ribs and hips. Right then and there I decided that I will start feeding her.
And so it all began …
I would carry her food every night at the same time. Soon after I began to bring a bottle of 2 liters of water as well. I inevitably started caring for Lara and, from the first day I brought her food, I would keep on visiting her. Rain or shine!
After a couple of months, she returned to a normal weight, but I noticed that she drank a lot of water. Even when the temperature was below minus, she would drink 2 liters of water at once.
I knew immediately that something was wrong. I went to her owner and told him that in my opinion, his dog was sick, and that if he doesn’t mind, I’d like to take her to the vet. He immediately made it clear that he did not mind, and that he had too much obligation to deal with Lara anyway.
I took her for a checkup, and she was diagnosed with diabetes. The sugar was as low as 30! This in the context that a normal blood glucose levels in dogs and cats are similar to those in humans, about 80-120 mg/dl (4.4-6.6 mmol/L). When I notified her owner of the diagnosis, he said he would take her to an asylum to euthanize her because he couldn’t deal with her.
I freaked out and asked him to hand Lara over to me, to try to find her a new home and someone to look after her. The next day, Lara’s papers were transferred to me, and I went in search of a foster. I was aware that I cannot keep Lara because I am a tenant in the attic, unemployed and that I cannot care for her financially, and at that time I did not know anything about diabetes.
A new life for Lara
As soon as Lara got to my house she started insulin therapy, and I started learning and reading all about diabetes on the internet. As months went by I tried my best in every possible way to find Lara a home – from newspapers and TV shows, but it didn’t help. No one wanted to adopt her because everyone thought she was too much of an obligation, and she was already 8 years and a half.
Soon after her diagnosis, Lara lost her sight. She got an eye barbell on both eyes and blinded her. I learned that blindness in diabetic dogs was actually inevitable – it was only a matter of time. I managed to raise USD2000 for her eye surgery and now her sight is back. She can happily chase the cats again.
How is diabetes in pets compared to people?
Sugar for dogs fluctuates constantly throughout the day and night. It usually rises late afternoon, and before morning – sugar height can never be predicted. But it’s all individual, from dog to dog. Each dog reacts differently to insulin as humans do.
Dog sugar is affected by everything, from changes in air pressure, the addition of any vitamins or minerals to the dog’s diet, of course, any infection, even though you may not see it.
For dogs, the ideal sugar is 6-14, and I usually check it up to 12 times a day. Why so many measurements? Let me explain!
You know for yourself that a dog can’t tell how he is feeling, and the symptoms of high or very low sugar in dogs are unnoticeable. Even though her sugar is 2.5 or 19-20, she acts the same. Sometimes when sugar is so high, she is thirstier and drinks more water than usual.
As I cannot tell whether she drinks water due to her blood sugar or just because she is thirsty due to normal causes, I have to have very regular measurements.
I am with Lara literally 24/7 so it allows me to take her out for a walk 3 times a day. Therefore, this means a lot of blood checking – 6 sugar measurements more specifically.
The day starts with measuring the sugar, if the sugar is ok, we go to the morning walk, get back home (if the walk was longer, I measure her sugar again, because it is possible that the sugar fell during the walk and if I put insulin on such low sugar she can fall into a coma), give her food and insulin.
I repeat this for the noon and evening walk, so I know if we can walk and if she can play with another dog or not as plays consume a lot of sugar in a very short time.
Important note – the blood for measuring sugar in dogs it is done on the ear. Don’t do it out of veins because the veins, in that case, would fail very quickly.
What medication is Lara using?
Lara drinks Krenon 10,000 to work the pancreas. In addition, she drinks daily sodium ascorbate (non-acidic) C vitamin powder (helps absorb iron from food, accelerates healing, and strengthens immunity), 4 capsules of nutritional supplements to strengthen cartilage and ease movement, and 8 milliliters of salmon oil – 4 milliliters per meal. Salmon oil helps insulin bind easier with cells, making sugar more stable throughout the day.
Due to Veronika’s care, Lara is doing fine now. She is happy, healthy and enjoys her walks while playing with other dogs or chasing the cats around.
It is important to mention that Veronika is not a vet. Everything she wrote is from her experience with Lara and from online sources.
Please keep in mind that Lara lives solely from donations made by individuals. These costs cover the food, medicines, vitamins, insulin, frequent visits to the vet, and everything else related to the day-to-day care and care of the dog.
Not Just a Patch was created by a T1D with the wish of helping the diabetes community – which includes animals that can suffer from diabetes as well. Therefore, we decided to help Lara on a monthly basis, and we encourage you to do the same!
Any donations to Lara are welcome. If you would like to send her any toys (she loves sound players) or anything else, feel free to contact us!