When Happy first started licking his paws and side we were not that worried. He was probably suffering from some type of seasonal allergy. Then he developed a couple of sores which we assumed would quickly be healed by the medicine the vet gave us. But when one, two, three, and even four weeks passed and his side was raw we started becoming more and more concerned.
It was not long before we started noticing that Happy’s already robust hunger was growing to the point that at times he was becoming demanding of food. When we sat down to eat he would stand in front of us with fixated eyes and if we did not give him a bite he would start barking as if he were ordering us to give him our food. This was a new and rather disturbing behavior for the normally mild mannered Happy. At this point we were becoming very worried. Was Happy suffering from some type anxiety attack and/or depression triggered by the grief of the unexpected loss of his beloved Grandpa?
It was a worrying thought, but it was quite plausible considering that for the first few weeks after my father’s death he had been unable to sleep in his bed. I had to sleep next to him on the sofa and cover him in one of my father’s old jackets or shirts for him to relax. And when we started the painful task of going through my father’s things and opened a container full of his clothes, poor little Happy had jumped up excitedly and begun to search every corner of the room before stopping in front of the box, sniffing the clothes, and then flopping dejectedly next to the container. So it was clear to us that his little puppy heart was grieving the loss. Add to the grief the uncertainty he had to feel our growing distress as we struggled to balance grief with the onslaught of unpleasant legal chores that are required to be accomplished within the first few, pain filled weeks of loss, it did not seem like a far stretch to question if the growing stress was starting to trigger anxiety in our already nervous strung pup.
But then the most alarming and clarifying symptom appeared, thirst. Seemingly overnight Happy went from drinking a bowl or two of water to 4,5, even 8 plus bowls of water, and sleep seemed to fly away as night and day I struggled to complete the impossible task of filling water bowls and taking Happy outside. It was a long weekend as we waited for Monday morning in order to bring Happy to the vet and get the expected, but unwanted diagnosis of doggy diabetes.
Sadly it is not something that many of us give thought to. But like humans, dogs can and do get diabetes. They also share some of the same risk factors with humans such as age, diet, weight, and certain medicines can trigger diabetes in dogs. And some breeds, like Happy, who tend to suffer from pancreatitis, have a much higher risk of developing diabetes.
And like human diabetes, it can be easy to explain away the first symptoms of diabetes. He lost some weight and is hungrier than normal because he just started walking on the treadmill. That wound is not healing because he has allergies or its not the right medicine. Its a hot day, no wonder he is so thirsty. Look at the poor tired little fellow, that ride really wore him out today. It was a hard day for all of us, and he has not been sleeping well. All he needs is a bit of rest and destressing and he will feel like his normal self in no time.
But unfortunately if left unchecked, our precious four pawed friends will not feel better. Diabetes does not care if it attacks human or pet. When it strikes it seeks and destroys. Unfortunately by the time you realize your beloved fur bundle’s danger, diabetes could have trigged sight robbing cataracts, damaged vital organs such as the liver and kidneys, and caused so much havoc that the weight practically seems to melt off of your pet overnight.
The bad news is that if left untreated diabetes will kill your dog or cat. But the good news is that if caught in time, before the damage to the kidneys and liver has passed the point of no return, diabetes is treatable. It will mean a great deal of tough love as you change your pets diet, and even go to war and wrestling with them to give them their unwanted insulin shot as right now it seems that giving a daily shot is the only treatment option. But with some tough love there is hope that your dog can once again enjoy a good life and live to a ripe old age.
So please, keep an eye out for the signs of symptoms of diabetes as the earlier the treatment the better the outcome. Talk with your pet’s vet to determine if a glucose test should be done to screen your dog for this dreadful disease, especially if your dog has risk factors such as weight, age, and a genetic predisposition to diabetes. Because a little discomfort now, might save a whole lot of misery and heart break as you have to fight for your four footed family member’s life later on.