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Doggie diabetes: How to help your pet

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Dogs and cats are getting heavier just like the humans who love him, and it's a growing problem.  What can you do when your vet says your pet has diabetes?  

The good news is that diabetes in pets is treatable, and Rascal, a 10-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, is a good example.  His blood glucose levels have been out of control, but vets say if they can figure out why and how to fix the problem, Rascal can life a long, full life.  

That's why Rascal's owner was willing to drive 90 miles to the University of Georgia's vet school to try a new device that might help.   

Rascal was diagnosed with diabetes about a year ago.  He is one of Mont and Peggy Miller's six dogs.   In February 2012, his vet noticed a problem when he came in for a teeth cleaning.  

The University of Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital's Dr. Cynthia Ward says Rascal's blood sugar levels were more than five times higher than normal.  So, they began giving him twice-daily insulin injections, but his levels are still too high.
To find out why, they began hospitalizing him, drawing blood every two hours.  They call that a glucose curve, and Rascal hated it.
"So Rascal has been in with us several times, we've done glucose curves in the hospital, but he's always so nervous and he pants, and he doesn't eat normally, that the readings we get are not accurate," said Dr. Ward.  

So, Dr. Ward and UGA vet technician Melissa Hunt tried something brand new.  They fitted Rascal with a tiny at-home glucose monitor, designed just for diabetic dogs and cats.  It tracks Rascal's blood sugar around the clock.  Rascal didn't flinch as a small sensor was attached just under his skin.  It will read his glucose levels every 5 minutes for three days, storing the information on a tiny recorder attached to the sensor.

After three days, Rascal's owner pulled the sensor out, detached the recorder, and mailed it back to the UGA Vet School.  They downloaded the results, and decided to increase Rascal's insulin based on the results.  The monitor and follow up appointment Rascal received runs about $350.

If your pet drinks more water, or needs to urinate more frequently, or seems tired, it could be sign of diabetes.

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