Supporting pets with Diabetes

Cat-at-vet-Diabetic-blog-Sept-19-Web-version-shutterstock_760342282Being told by your vet that your pet has diabetes can be very upsetting and worrying. Diabetes is a serious health condition and it’s only natural for owners to question whether they’ll able to correctly care for their pets at home following a diagnosis.

The good news is, most pets with Diabetes can go on to enjoy life by managing the condition correctly with a mix of prescribed drugs and a clinical diet.

To help pet owners manage the condition at home, manufacturers have developed products which can make day to day monitoring and administering of medication easier.

In this blog we look at what a Diabetes diagnosis means and all the ways in which the condition can be supported.

Diagnosis and prescription medication.

Following a diagnosis of Diabetes, your vet will explain in detail how to manage the condition with regular administration of the drug insulin, diet and exercise. They will also give guidance and assistance on injecting your pet with insulin.

To ensure safe disposal, the vet will also give you a needle disposal bin which once full, can be handed in to your vet and swapped over for a new one.

If you’re buying your pet’s medication online from Animed Direct (you’ll need a current prescription to upload to accompany your order) these drugs will arrive by courier and in special cool packages to keep the drug at the correct temparature. You’ll have to be at home to sign for the delivery and once received, you’ll need to keep your pet’s medication in the fridge, otherwise it will become ineffective.

Some brands of medication (for cats only) will be usable for up to 60 days once opened, other brands of medicine will only have 28 days in which to use once opened (both needing to be kept in the fridge).

NOTE: Ensure you make regular calendar reminders, either to book another visit to your vet, or order more medication directly (if there’s enough on your prescription remaining). Always plan to order a little ahead of time, to allow for any possible delays or hold ups, that way you’ll never be without your pet’s medication.

Administering medication

This may be the aspect of care owners feel a little uneasy about. Traditionally, insulin is administered by injection via syringes and needles.  A lot of people find needles and the whole process of injecting their pet very stressful but there is a choice.

Administering options include:

  • A combination of a vial of medication plus syringes to draw down the dose (traditional method)
  • Vetpen administration (similar to insulin pens used by approximately 80% of diabetic humans but specifically made for pets)

The Vetpen Starter kit does not contain the medication but its pen-inject format can prove easier for owners who are put off by the whole syringe handling aspect.

It’s less complicated, reusable, comes in a handy carrying case and the pen-twist/click dosing feature means it’s easier to instruct kennels/catteries or family/pet sitters who may need to medicate your pet in your absence. The ultra-fine needle means there’s less reaction from pets and overall stress too.

If you have poor eyesight, arthritic or unsteady hands, the VetPen may be a better option for you.

The Vetpen starter kit is available to buy without a prescription, you’ll simply need a prescription for the medication cartridges.

Discuss both methods with your vet to help decide which may be best for you. Ensure you’re happy with the process. Your vet will demonstrate how to administer the medication correctly which ever method you choose and don’t hesitate to contact the practice if you need more advice or help.

Taking glucose level readings

Glucose (blood sugar) levels vary as we know. Your vet may state that you don’t need to check your pet’s glucose levels at home, you simply need to book appointments at the practice and they’ll monitor, assess and adjust the dosage accordingly.

You can monitor glucose levels at home for a more regular, up-to-date reading. This would result in more accurate treatment of the condition and may result in less medication actually being required. If you feel this might be something you can do, talk to your vet. They can advise whether they recommend this or not. Each case is different, depending on the individual pet, their condition and their owner.

Once you’ve discussed your pet’s case with a vet, if you decide to take glucose readings, there are two methods available.

NOTE: Human diabetes blood testing kits shouldn’t be used on pets, as dog and cat blood stores glucose differently to humans, therefore readings from human kits are inaccurate and could result in pets receiving potentially harmful doses of insulin.

Whilst urine testing kits may be “easier” the blood testing kits are more accurate.

The Alphatrak2 blood glucose system is specifically calibrated for both cat’s and dog’s blood, is easy to use, portable, and works on the smallest of samples (a tiny prick on the ear for example) so less stressful for pets and owners. It enables owners to get an instant, easy reading and therefore be able to only administer the dose required at that specific time.

Both the urine and the blood testing kits plus accessories are generally available and do not require a prescription, however, talk to your vet about whether regular at-home monitoring is something you should be doing for your particular pet.

Clinical diets for Diabetes

The second part of Diabetes management, after regular medication, is diet. Once your pet has been given the diagnosis, your vet is likely to recommend a “special” or clinical diet.

Diabetic diets are usually high protein foods with less fat (for fewer calories) and higher fibre (to slow the entrance of glucose into the blood) it also helps your pet feel fuller for longer.

Your vet will make some recommendations about your pet’s diet. You can usually buy diets from the veterinary practice or you could shop online. Although a clinical Diabetes diet should only be given following the recommendation of your vet, it’s not a prescription item (although the word “prescription” may be in the name), so you can buy it from where ever you like.

Where ever you buy your clinical diet from, ask your vet for advice as to how you should switch your pet’s diet over (it must be gradually phased in over about a week, NOT swapped over immediately). Also, if you change brands at a later date, again ask your vet if the diet is suitable for your pet and repeat the phased approach.

When a pet has a serious health condition such as Diabetes, your veterinary practice is always the first port of call for advice on treatment, diet and day to day care. By following the vet’s advice and considering some of the products readily available to help you care for your pet, you should be able to manage the condition and continue to enjoy a few more happy years with them after diagnosis.

Alphatrak 2 Starter Kit on Animed Direct

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