When Max the West Highland White Terrier came to see Vet Julie in June, he looked every one of his 11 years. He had recently developed a cough, nasal discharge and noisy breathing, and his owners were worried that he was also drinking and urinating more and occasionally vomiting. On examination he also had dental disease. Julie’s first priority was to make him more comfortable by treating his upper respiratory tract infection.
A week later his cough and nasal discharge had resolved so he was booked in for a dental. Due to his age and ill health, we ran pre-operative blood and urine tests. These showed signs of infection, raised liver enzymes, a high fasting blood glucose, and blood, glucose and ketones in his urine. These results confirmed that Max was diabetic and had a urinary tract infection.
Some humans have a form of diabetes that can be controlled with diet alone. All dogs and cats have an insulin-dependent form of diabetes, which means they need twice daily injections of insulin and very careful monitoring. Max stayed at Cogges for a few days while we carried out his initial stabilisation, and started him on antibiotics for his dental and urinary tract infections. Once his owner was happy with the injection technique and his day to day monitoring, Max went home.
When Max came back for a check up, his owner reported that he was generally much better, but he was still vomiting. Further blood tests confirmed that he had pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) which can be tricky to treat but in Max’s case has been successfully managed with a low fat diet.
By the middle of July Max was feeling much better, but was starting to express his displeasure at the twice daily insulin injections! His owner was struggling with this but was determined to persevere. We gave her all our tips on injection technique, and they have now settled into a routine. It took a while for us to find the right dose of insulin for Max, gradually increasing his dose until he was well in himself and his blood results showed good control. By September his diabetes was well controlled so he was booked in for his dental. He had an anaesthetic, scale and polish and multiple extractions, and recovered well.
At his last check up he was bright and playful, drinking and urinating a normal amount, not vomiting, and looking several years younger than when Julie first met him! Poor Max has been through a tough couple of months which is why he is our well deserved ‘Pet of the Month’.
If you have any questions about the health of your senior pet, please book an appointment. There is a lot we can do to help keep your pets comfortable as they get older.