Ask Dr. Joi: Neuropathy and Needles

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2016-12-29T11:45:10-05:00Updated: April 5th, 2012|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Newsletter|0 Comments

I thought that it would be a good idea to share some of the questions that I get from the diabetic pet owners that I meet with. Maybe you have had similar questions. If so, I hope that you can also benefit from the below dialogue.

Q: What is diabetic neuropathy?

A: Diabetic neuropathy is a neurologic disorder that results when a pet has experienced prolonged hyperglycemia. It is more often diagnosed when a pet is initially diagnosed with diabetes rather than once treatment has begun. The most common presentation of diabetic neuropathy is hind end weakness, particularly a “plantigrade” stance. It is more likely to involve hind feet than front feet. It is also more likely to affect cats than dogs. Typically it takes months to develop and could take up to a year to resolve. Diabetic Neuropathy is not a particularly common manifestation of diabetes in animals. As a vet who has practiced since 1993, I’ve seen one dog with a diabetic neuropathy and just a handful of cats with diabetic neuropathy. Though there are some anecdotal treatments such as weekly vitamin B injections, the mainstay of treatment is to get the glucose under regulation. Most pets will go back to normal (or nearly so) once the diabetes is regulated. Clients are advised to have patience and strive for good glycemic control.

Q: Can I use my needles more than once?

A: No! Diabetes can take a toll on the pocket book over the years, but re-using needles is NOT the place to save your finances. Not only does the needle get dulled as it goes through the vial and the pet’s skin, a used needle would contaminate the vial of insulin. That could potentially result in injecting bacteria into your pet. Or, it could result in the insulin going bad and wreaking havoc on your pet’s diabetes control. If an owner has limited finances there are other ways to cut the costs of diabetes care. Owners can save money by doing their blood glucose curves at home and educating themselves about diabetes to avoid costly errors in diabetes management.

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

About the Author: Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida. Connect with Dr. Joi on LinkedIn

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