Information and client stories have been put together by Head Nurse Estelle Jenner. To contact Estelle please email email@example.com or call our usual number 01502 578999
Diabetes is an incurable but controllable disease which is caused when the pancreas stops producing insulin properly. This illness is seen more commonly in dogs than cats, it is manageable and with the correct treatment your pet should be able to continue its happy active life. There are 2 types of diabetes
Diabetes Type I - Dogs are more likely to develop Type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is also known as insulin-deficiency because the body is not able to produce insulin. Insulin is normally produced in the pancreas and is important in helping cells use glucose (sugar), the basic energy source.
The digestive system is designed to turn food into glucose for cells to use. Without insulin, glucose cannot get into cells. Animals with Type I diabetes need to be given insulin daily so that their body can use glucose. Typically, once your pet develops Type I diabetes, it is not reversible.
Diabetes Type 2 - Cats are more likely to develop Type II diabetes, but obesity as well as some diseases and medications can cause Type II diabetes in dogs also. Type II diabetes is known as insulin-resistant diabetes. It happens when the pancreas makes insulin, but the body's cells do not respond to the insulin. Sometimes Type II diabetes can be reversed through weight loss and improvements in diet and exercise.
Symptoms of Diabetes - Diabetes usually has a slow onset. Your pet will start drinking more water and urinating more frequently and in larger amounts. They may even have accidents in the house. Dogs may also eat more while losing or maintaining weight. These symptoms are not specific to diabetes, but they are big indicators that your pet should be examined by your veterinarian.
How To Treat Diabetes - Your vet will usually perform a urine and blood test to confirm this condition. Following diagnosis and after discussions with your vet, a consultation will usually be booked with our Diabetic Nurse Estelle, Estelle will go through everything with you, enabling you to understand this illness.
Treatment usually involves twice daily injections with a strict feeding and exercise routine. She will show you how to inject your pet but don't worry, you will not be left alone with this until you are entirely happy. Regular tests will be required until glucose stability is maintained.
“The most important thing to know is that you are not on your own with this, we are here for you!”
The owners of our most recent diabetic patients have kindly allowed us to share their stories with you…
All the signs were there, increased thirst, decreased energy, needing the toilet more often, yet when we were given the official diagnosis of diabetes it wasn’t any easier to accept.
Not too long ago we’d lost a human family member to the condition and then two years later we find out that our boy, Harry, was now having to live with it as well! After many tears, questions and frustrations, a plan was in place and daily life looking after our white (occasionally muddy) pooch had begun.
As many of you would agree, the thought of injecting your beloved furry friend daily is something we would rather shy away from, however, it is a necessary evil. We were given demos, practice needles and saline ready for an unsuspecting orange, phone numbers, appointments, follow ups and the assurance that we could call at any time with questions no matter what they were. We were given guidance and support to do with everything from diet and exercise to treats and the importance of a daily routine.
To begin with Harry was regularly invited back to have his sugar levels monitored and as each month passed we noticed he became more like his playful self again. We had our fair share of difficult days, (chasing round the garden trying to catch a urine sample was a particular highlight), but things did become more manageable. Just to clarify, we all had the initial reaction of; “we can’t do this”! Thankfully we became more competent in his care and he became more accepting.
More recently Harry had been diagnosed with cataracts, the development of which had accelerated through the condition. He was quickly referred to an ophthalmic veterinary specialist and underwent his operation prior to Christmas. Let’s just say if you thought injecting your dog was difficult try putting in an array of eye drops 4x daily! He proudly lived up to his stereotype of being a stubborn Westie. Thankfully it got easier, so hang in there!
Harry got us through an incredibly dark time in the family when we lost someone close. Now we get the honour and privilege of getting him through his darker times, with the unconditional support of Estelle and all at Wangford Veterinary Surgery. It is the only practice that Harry will willingly walk into... instead of putting his brakes on in the car park (we’ve all been there).
We can say it a million times but THANK YOU for all you do.... simply 1st class people and a 1st class surgery!
Charlie came to us as a rather large and lazy rescue cat, and very set in his ways with a determination to get his own way or else.
He soon established a rigid exercise routine which entailed no going outside under any circumstances, sleeping, eating and only making contact with us when he needed something. To his credit his chosen lifestyle kept him a relatively healthy cat for many years, until we began to notice changes – drinking significantly more water, erratic appetite, as well as being even more grumpy and lethargic.
A visit to Wangford Vets and the following consultations and tests confirmed it was diabetes and that Charlie was quite a poorly boy too. Feeling out of our depth, with visions of prolonged illness, daily injections, medications and goodness knows what else we were so grateful for the support given by the Practice. Walter and Estelle guided us through the nature of the disease, its causes and how it would affect our daily life with Charlie.
Charlie never likes to make things easy and it is typical that he confounded all attempts to help him. He is a big cat with claws and an even bigger temper and now he had erratic mood swings which is usually something we can work around. However, his treatment required injections at specific times, the amount given depended on the levels of blood sugar and Charlie was not giving stable results. Estelle who’s understanding of this disease is impressive, came to the conclusion that the best way to gain consistent results was for us to administer the tests ourselves at home! This was daunting to say the least, but with Estelle’s dedication and belief to guide us the process became easier and our confidence grew, especially as she was always happy to give us support and encouragement.
Testing and treating at home eventually worked. The key was to keep Charlie's stress levels down as it had a significant effect on the results. I remember one blood result that I passed to Estelle was so low that she said with that reading Charlie should be dead.
Charlie, who would never be caught without him putting up a fight got used to the routine, letting us pick him up to test him with only a small amount of fuss – he did have his pride! We established a routine and the Practice who were so good throughout were able to supply the correct dose of Insulin for Charlie. Regular blood tests and injections at home became our normal routine. Slowly he started to stabilise and then to improve, drinking less and was less grumpy. Part of the program had been to get him to lose some weight and this too began to slowly happen.
How is Charlie Now? Well at the time of writing, he has been clear of diabetes for over a year now. We are told this level of recovery is unusual – true to form Charlie does it his way and life is very much on his terms but we do seem to find him more even tempered.
For us, the initial diagnosis was a shock and the potential lifelong treatment daunting, but everyone at the Practice was so calm, dedicated and professional that we overcame our fears and were able to put Charlie first and help him to recovery. There is no doubt in our minds that he would not be with us if it had not been for Wangford Veterinary Clinic.
We are fortunate that she is a very well behaved dog and she doesn't make a fuss, so the experience for us is quite a positive one.
Ollie is an 11 year old Brittany Spaniel
Ollie has been diagnosed as being a diabetic. We knew nothing about diabetes in dogs. Ollie was drinking excessively and urinating frequently, especially at night, he was eating well, but lost weight.
Online information helped us suspect diabetes, therefore a trip to the vets was booked. Diabetes was confirmed via a blood test at this appointment.
It was not the thought of having to inject insulin that worried me the most, but more me being able to do this safely with the arthritis I have in my hands.
An appointment with Estelle helped ease my worries, showing me how to handle the needle and syringe, giving me time to practice this skill. We are in the early stages of his diabetic treatment, but with regular trips to see Estelle at the clinic will be hoping to have Ollie maintained on the correct amount soon.
One of the problems of diabetes is the development of cataracts which sadly has happened in Amy's case. Her sight has deteriorated of late and she is now much more dependent on her nose to find her way about - not a problem with her sense of smell. The important thing is to keep the furniture in the same place so that she can find her way around. We are very impressed with Wangford Vets and would recommend them to help you make the right decision for your pet.
We have had dogs for over 56 years and some of them with health problems, which we were always able to manage. However, when Ellie was diagnosed with diabetes in December 2020 it came as a bit of a shock and we wondered how we were going to help her get through it. We met Estelle the diabetic nurse and she went through everything with us about diabetes which we found very helpful. Estelle showed us how and where to inject the insulin which we manage to do ourselves very well. Ellie is injected twice a day and is very good while we administer the insulin. This is then followed by a meal 30 minutes afterwards. The only thing we find that is a bit of an issue is that Ellie misses her doggie treats, but we tell her it is for her own good!
Ellie spends a day at the vets each week to be monitored whilst they get her insulin dose correct as at the moment it is up and down. We are surprised how well we are coping with Ellie's diagnosis but knowing we can get in touch with Estelle if we are worried about anything at any time just makes it much less worrying for us. Ellie continues to enjoy her daily walks with her sister Chloe and has a good quality of life. Thank you Estelle and team.
JASPER - 8 year crossbreed
Jasper had become very ill and sick. Prompt testing from Wangford Vets soon diagnosed diabetes and it was clear Jasper was going to be on lifelong insulin.
Because Jasper had become so unwell, he had to spend several nights at the clinic and, in fact, it was unclear if he would pull through this illness. There was a strong suspicion of a more serious complaint with his pancreas.
To our amazement he improved enough to come home, with me taking over his insulin injections. I had already done this with a previous dog, so was in need of very little training.
Jasper has spent many trips back and forth to see Estelle and Walter and even more overnight stays, but at present he is relatively stable and back to being the happy, cheeky boy that he is.