I don’t know about you, but for me 2014 was a trying year. I opened my own small animal hospital in late 2013, so building a clientèle, managing employees and running a business made for one tired veterinarian in 2014! My friends often joked that I was heading home to take a nap. I went from one of the healthiest, active people I know to “just average” in a mere year. I’m getting back on that horse and as I was panting through a Pilates class this morning, I thought, “It’s a New Year!!!”
Life can be messy. Maybe your pet was diagnosed with diabetes this year. Maybe you moved or had a job change. Maybe you just got lazy for no particular reason at all. I once heard that the older you get, every other day is Christmas. Time speeds by. It is up to us to capture the moments and make the best of our lives!
We humans often make New Year’s resolutions. I used to think that this was baloney, that we should resolve every single day to be or do our best. I’ve changed my mind in my advancing years. I now think writing down our goals are the best way for them to come to fruition. Whether we do this on New Year’s Day or on a monthly basis, our goals and dreams are more likely to materialize if we keep them in focus. Maybe they are written on a post-it note on your dashboard. Maybe you have them framed and in fancy lettering. However you manage to remind yourself of your goals, you will help your goals manifest.
As a veterinarian, my job is to help pets live healthy, comfortable and happy lives. I thought I might toss out a few simple, yet sometimes forgotten, New Year’s resolutions that can improve your diabetic pet’s life. Tack these babies onto your own resolutions list.
Here We Go!!
- Maintain consistency in schedule as best you can. Yes, I harp about this one frequently – with good reason! It is easier to maintain good blood glucose regulation if you feed equal portions twice daily (with each insulin injection). And, glucose regulation is better when we give our diabetic pets their insulin 12 hours apart. There will always be an occasional obstacle to your schedule – say you get stuck late in a meeting or miss the bus. Nonetheless, do your best. Have a back-up plan if you are going to be hours late, such as a neighbor or relative who can run over and give the insulin and food, instead of having to wait until the next dose is due.
- Keep with the food you and your veterinarian chose. Many diabetic pets are on a particular pet food that is designed for their specific needs. For cats, we nearly always choose canned food only, as it is lower in carbohydrates than dry food. Even then, we strive for the lowest carbohydrate canned food. Diabetic doggies usually receive high fiber, low fat dog food. Oftentimes these are prescription pet foods. When we run low on pet food, we can sometimes forget to get to the vet clinic in time and may be forced to feed a different food until the next day. I own a veterinary clinic and even I have forgotten to bring home my pets’ food. We are human. Nonetheless, vets usually tailor your diabetic pet’s food based on your pet’s particular health issues. Changing around the food fed can affect your pet’s glucose control.
- Run those glucose curves! How else will you know if your pet is truly regulated unless you run occasional glucose curves. Yes, you may view it as a pain in the you-know-what, due to checking your pet’s blood glucose every 2 hours from one injection until another, or hourly if it is less than 150 mg/dl. Nonetheless, if you are honest with yourself, there is likely a day now and then that you are home all day. Even if you need to go run an errand you will likely be back before the next glucose check. Glucose curves tell us how long the insulin lasts in your pet and if we could – or should – alter the insulin dose. We run curves every few months – even on pets who we think are well regulated. We run glucose curves about a week after changing an insulin dose.
- Appreciate your pet every day. There’s a reason why you go through the hassle and expense of treating your sweetie’s diabetes. Like me, I know many of you see your pets as family. When I head off to work, even if I’m in a hurry, I find each of my pets and say goodbye. After all, when I come home they are waiting for me inside the front door as if to say, “Welcome home! We’ve missed you! How was your day?”
Above all else, I hope to remind you to cherish your furry babies every day.
Happy New Year from all of us at ADW Diabetes!
NOTE: Consult your veterinarian to confirm that my recommendations are applicable for the health needs of your pet.