Questions for Your Vet About Your Pet’s Diabetes

It is important to determine whether or not your veterinarian has experience in dealing with the special needs of a diabetic pet. Following is a list of questions compiled by members of the Muffin Pet Diabetes Group, which may help you when consulting with your veterinarian. Do not be afraid to ask these questions.

It is worth noting that you should carefully observe your veterinarian to see if he/she is a real animal lover and is empathetic with your pet. We should be just as selective about a vet as we are about finding a doctor for ourselves.

General

  • How many other diabetic pets are you treating, how long have you been treating them and how are they faring?
  • If the answer is “none”, ask for a referral to a vet who has had experience with diabetes
  • Are you willing to help me to educate myself on this disease?
  • What other ways do you suggest I can educate myself about diabetes?

Emergency Information

  • Do you have an emergency number if my pet has a bad reaction or other emergency after hours or at night?
  • If you don’t have after-hours emergency service, who do you refer to for emergencies?
  • What do you consider an emergency in a diabetic pet?
  • What signs (symptoms) should I be aware of (as an emergency) and what do I do if I see them?
  • What other situations should cause me to call the vet or seek emergency care?

Regulating

  • Will you monitor my pet’s reaction to the insulin over several hours via blood glucose curves? How often? Will you explain the results to me, so I can understand the insulin’s effect on my pet?
  • Are there any complications that could happen if my animal is not stabilized after a specified period of time? What is that time period?
  • What is the normal blood glucose range we’re attempting to reach (i.e. high and low) to maintain my pet’s good health?

Monitoring

  • How do you want me to monitor my pet’s diabetes: home blood glucose testing, urine and ketone testing, water intake, urine output?
  • How should I monitor my pet’s condition at home? For example, watching for excessive thirst or urination or hunger, weight loss or gain, feeling active or lethargic, etc.
  • How do you feel about home testing and will you help me learn to do home testing?
  • What kind of records should I keep to help you to evaluate my pet’s condition?

Insulin

  • How many types of insulin are suitable for pets?
  • How do you determine which insulin to use, and what dosage?
  • Why are you starting with this type of insulin (whichever they prescribe)?
  • What are the properties of this insulin compared to other types – for example, how does this insulin work, when does it onset/peak/fade, and what are typical peak times and duration?
  • What should I be on the lookout for as common problems with this type of insulin?
  • . If this insulin doesn’t work out, which type would I probably be trying next?
  • How do you want me want to adjust my pet’s insulin?
  • Should I get your approval before making any insulin dosage changes? Are there exceptions to the general rule?

Injections

  • Show me how to give an injection.
  • Explain the insulin dosage units, demonstrating on the syringe. Practice giving injections in the veterinarian’s office.
  • What if my pet moves and does not receive his full injection?
  • What insulin dosage should I give if my pet is sick, refuses to eat or vomits?
  • What if my pet vomits after the injection?
  • What do I do if I think I missed a shot?
  • What do I do if my pet refuses to eat after an injection?

Food/Feeding

  • When should I feed my pet — before, during, or after the injection, or free feed all the time?
  • Should I have water available at all times?
  • What diet should I feed my pet? Should I use a special formula for diabetics, such as Hill’s W/D? What if my pet won’t eat this? There are new high protein diets on the market without grains. Are they healthy for my pet?
  • What do I do if my pet eats extra food by mistake?
  • What foods should I give during vomiting or diarrhea episodes?

Hypoglycemia

  • What is hypoglycemia? (in simple terms, it’s a dangerously low blood glucose level)
  • What signs and symptoms should I watch for, and how should I treat it? At what point should I call the veterinarian or go to an emergency animal clinic?

Hyperglycemia

  • What is hyperglycemia? (in simple terms, it’s a dangerously high blood glucose level)?
  • What signs and symptoms should I watch for, and how should I treat it? At what point should I call the veterinarian or go to an emergency animal clinic?
  • Ask what complications arise from continued high blood glucose levels, and how quickly or slowly to increase insulin when levels continue high.

Ketoacidosis

  • What is ketoacidosis? Is it potentially life-threatening?
  • What signs and symptoms should I watch for, and how should I treat it? At what point should I call the veterinarian or go to an emergency animal clinic?

Cataracts

  • Ask for information on cataract development in diabetics (dogs especially) and any other possible eye complications (inflammation, glaucoma).

Thyroid

  • Ask about thyroid in relation to diabetes and regulating glucose levels (has the animal been tested for thyroid levels?)

Other Medications

  • Ask how other medications your dog/cat may be taking will affect diabetes and glucose levels.

Sources

Muffin Pet Diabetes Support Group, www.petdiabetes.net