Diabetes - not just a disease for humans - Henry's story

Henry is a 10 year old Bichon Frise who had his regular yearly vaccination and check up this month. His owner mentioned that he had been drinking a lot more than normal lately. There are many reasons why animals drink more than they should and a blood test is the best way to eliminate or diagnose many of these conditions.

The blood was sent to the laboratory for assessment and the results were sent to us the next day. It was discovered that Henry had a very high glucose level which indicated that he had diabetes mellitus. This is a condition caused when the body does not produce enough insulin, due to the specific cells in the pancreas being destroyed or exhausted.

Insulin is used by the body to help get glucose into cells where it can be used for energy. Without insulin, cells all through the body do not function effectively or they can be damaged which can lead to organs such as the liver, failing.

Henry was admitted to hospital for a few days where we started him on daily injections of insulin. It is important that we know that the dose of insulin is correct as if the insulin given is too much, the glucose levels in the blood falls. This would result in a hypoglycaemic episode where Henry would become weak and collapse. If the insulin level is too low then the treatment is ineffective.
To check that the insulin being administered is correct, a glucose curve is done. This is where a small blood sample is taken every two hours to check the glucose levels.
Henry's insulin dose was adjusted a few times before we were happy to send him home.

Glucose curves need to be repeated frequently to ensure the diabetes is being treated with the correct dose of insulin.

Henry's owner was extremely happy to have him back home even though it meant giving Henry injections every day. She was not, however, as overjoyed as Henry was as he jumped up and down and ran around so much and so quickly that he then hurt his leg and had to come back to the clinic again for another checkup!!

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