This week I was presented with a pet who was drinking a noticeably greater amount than he previously had been drinking. The owner was afraid the pet had diabetes. That is a very valid thought! Diabetes, kidney disease and Cushings disease all come to mind when a pet gradually starts to drink more. If I had to choose between the lesser of all three evils, I would choose Diabetes any day!

So, this got me thinking. Why do people have such a fear of diabetes?

We have a fear of the unknown. For many people diabetes and glucose control are very confusing. If people take a few days or a week or so when their pets are first diagnosed to really understand diabetes, the fear goes away. When I diagnose a diabetic pet I send my clients home with several handouts and online sources of reading materials. I tell them that this is their “homework”!

If clients get the basics (that giving insulin causes the blood glucose to decrease and that that ingesting food causes the glucose level to increase) we are halfway there! If clients understand these simple concepts they can view diabetes as a controllable disease! If they don’t understand how it works, they continue to fear the disease. With the advent of home glucose monitoring for pets, clients no longer need to “guess” what to do for their pet.

The fear of needles and fear of hurting a beloved pet is probably the next big mental obstacle to overcome. You’d be surprised how some of the biggest toughest muscle men need to leave the exam room of my hospital when I pull blood or give vaccinations to their pets. In fact, some folks are so squeamish that I usually ask clients if they wish to be present or if they prefer for me to take the pet to the back (out of their sight) when the needle comes out. Typically I will continue to chat with clients when I pull blood or give a vaccine and some clients are surprised afterwards that Fluffy never even made a peep. It appears that our pets don’t have this fear of needles! Somehow when we really need to “man up” for our pets we can do so. After a few pokes clients gain confidence and this fear goes away, too.

I think perhaps one of the greatest concerns when clients get the diagnosis of pet diabetes is that weekend trips and family vacations won’t be feasible if they need to be home every 12 hours to give Fluffy his insulin. They view diabetes as a ball and chain. However, very few of us are without good friends or family capable of treating our pets when we are out of town. Once again this comes down to education! If you say your family and friends are flaky dingbats not to be trusted with man’s best friend, you can bet there might be a vet tech at your family veterinary clinic who may be happy to make a few extra bucks babysitting Fluffy while you are away. Even those with “pet challenged” friends can usually find a responsible pet sitter trustworthy of watching our sweetie.

If we approach our pets’ diseases in a scientific manner and do our best to understand a situation, suddenly we are in control. Being in control of a situation changes our mindset. If we are in control, diabetes ain’t so bad.

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian to confirm that my recommendations are applicable for the health needs of your pet.