We thought we would pop into the Vet when we took Zac, our little dog, for his Christmas trim. He seemed happy enough in himself - but recently he’d been drinking quite at lot.
However, we were not unduly worried. We just wanted a check-up.
I remember the date so well. December 3rd 2015. Christina, our Vet, suggested she take a blood sample from him so that the result would be ready when we called back after his trim. Good idea! We really were not too concerned. Perhaps he needed a tonic, or something?
We’d found Zac in kennels four years previously where he had been taken after being seen running in the campo (countryside) for what must have been a fairly long time. He had no collar, no chip, and was infested with worms and fleas when he was eventually picked up. But I had seen him on a local animal sanctuary website - and had fallen in love with him instantly!
‘Eees dee shoogar!’, Christina announced triumphantly, when we returned. (You will have realised by now that we live in Spain!) Diabetes? What? We were stunned! His blood sugar level was 530 - and it should have been between 80-120.
We realised that this was very serious… and we were immediately on a totally new pathway with our little dog. And so the journey began. We couldn’t have even begun to imagine what we were going to have to adjust to. And instantly, too! There was no ‘getting used to the idea’. And, of course, that also applied to Zac. Christina showed us how to give him his insulin injection every 12 hours - and he went straight onto a strict diabetic food diet. Poor Zaccy! He had a reputation for loving his food and we’d always had a job keeping his weight down to an acceptable level even though we were so careful.
He’d always been a stocky little chap!
Of course, we ‘googled’ everything! How to give the injections. It takes courage to begin with and we both lost our confidence in the early days - until we got into a good routine. Another signal that the insulin count is incorrect is wee-ing during the night. We took turns to get up every 3-4 hours to take him outside - and still sometimes missed the timing! Frustrating for all of us, and particularly for Zac as he obviously felt unhappy about it. We have a lot of white gravel outside our house and another sign was the brown wee stains left - again the sugar.
His weight dropped alarmingly while we were trying to get the insulin levels right for him. His 10 kilos dropped to less than 8 within a couple of weeks. We had more tests and found that he had also developed Cushings Disease. This is another nasty disease and is primarily a disorder of the pituitary gland. This effects the metabolism and can also have harmful effects on the internal organs.
Our poor little boy…..
We had a long 9 months, struggling to find the right medication for him. Week in, week out - we’d have his sugar levels checked. Sometimes good news, but then sometimes not so good. It seemed that his little body was resisting the insulin. It’s rare - but it happens. His count would swing from 50-500.
But, thankfully, Christina just would not give up. She continued to research and investigate - and just when we were all at our lowest ebb…. she found a new insulin. And Zac turned a corner!
We’ve had lots of encouragement both from Christina, our wonderful Vet (who is simply the best!) and other pet owners who’ve had similar experiences.
So now, at last, things at last seemed to have clicked into place. His weight has stabilised, his blood sugar count is around the 100-120 mark - and we have moved to TWO WEEKLY appointments!!! Yay!
Despite the fact that he is now almost totally blind (thanks to the diabetes) he is back to being the loving, happy little man who loves to take his toys out and play with them on the terrace and cuddle up with us on the sofa in the evening.
We know he won’t make old bones, but at this moment he is certainly ‘hanging in there’. He is such a little trouper and while he is happy and without discomfort or pain - we’re ALL hanging in there with him. We’re Team Zaccy! Christina, John and me, and our two wonderful friends, Geoff and Ros, who have also loved him and cared for him when we have ventured back to England for a short break. And, of course, Zac - our little hero!
Taking in the sights and sounds
We count ourselves very lucky. So, for anyone who is faced with a similar situation with their beloved pet - please, don’t panic. Yes, it is difficult - and very scary to begin with. But, believe me, it is certainly do-able.