Happy 4th of July!
It’s the week of July 4th, and we’re all up at our cottage in Wisconsin. It’s nice to have a little getaway time with Sacha and the family. And in case you missed it earlier, be sure to check out my list of summer shopping ideas for your dog. including things to help you keep your dog cool in these hot summer months!
July 4 is always a bit bittersweet in our household, especially for my wife Pam. You see, July 4, 1996 is the day that our first Samoyed, Zoya was born. Here’s a picture of our sweet Zoya who died of cancer in 2008.
Pam had a special bond with Zoya, much like the bond I would develop with Ramius years later. Pam first brought Zoya home when she was 8 weeks old in September of 1996. Pam and I didn’t meet until late 1997, I moved in to Zoya’s place (yes, Zoya’s place) in 1998, and then Pam and I were married in 1999.
I blogged earlier about what it’s like to introduce a new Samoyed puppy into your home when you already have an adult Samoyed, but this was altogether different. This was a situation where I was being introduced to the home Pam and Zoya shared. Yikes!!
Zoya – The Queen of the Castle
No, not in the sense that Elaine was the Queen of the Castle in the famous Seinfeld episode.
But, Zoya was the queen of our household nonetheless. While Zoya was pampered and very well loved of course, Zoya did what Zoya wanted to do. Perhaps more importantly, Zoya never did anything she didn’t want to do. If you have a Samoyed already, perhaps you can relate to this. 😉 And while it took a while for her to accept me as a member of the family, she eventually did and she became my daughter too. But, this took a period of adjustment time for sure.
Diabetic Warning Signs
What does all this have to do with learning about the signs of diabetes in dogs, particularly Samoyeds? Well, knowing your dog’s personality is very important for your relationship and your pet’s overall health. If you don’t know their personality inside and out, it’s much harder to identify changes in their behavior which could be a sign that something is wrong.
Unfortunately, Samoyeds are a breed of dog that is particularly susceptible to diabetes. Sadly, many dog breeds are, and if you’re unsure whether or not your kind of dog is, please do the research. Petmd.com and Webmd.com are great sources of information about pet diabetes.
There are several different symptoms of diabetes in dogs including lethargy, vomiting, and change in appetite among many others. For this post, I’m going to focus on the symptoms we first noticed with Zoya that told us something unusual was going on with her. Unfortunately, these same symptoms would manifest themselves many years later in Ramius because
he also developed diabetes. Both Zoya & Ramius were diagnosed with diabetes around 8 years of age. Sacha is only 5 and thankfully is not diabetic. And he’s under strict orders not to develop it when he gets older!
With Zoya, the first thing we noticed was that she began drinking much more than usual. Dehydration is another symptom of diabetes and if you see your dog drinking excessively, this is something to pay attention to. Quite frankly, though my wife and I noticed she was drinking more water, it didn’t raise any alarm bells. At that time, neither of us had any experience with dog diabetes so we didn’t know what to look for. But when she began to urinate in the house, that’s when we knew something was up.
Even with a dog as headstrong as Zoya was, for her to urinate in the house because of some behavioral reason would’ve been way out of the ordinary. So when she started to pee inside, we brought her in immediately to see the veterinarian. Remember, knowing your dog’s personality is key!
Caring for your Diabetic Dog
After examining Zoya and running some tests, our vet broke the news to us that Zoya was diabetic. This caused quite a shock! Why? How did this happen? Will she be okay? What do we do now?
All of those questions are normal and your veterinarian will guide you through them. For us, it meant that we had to start giving Zoya insulin shots twice/day, everyday, for the rest of her life. As your our vet explained to us, ideally, those shots need to be about 12 hours apart. So guess what pet parents, your life is about to get much more structured! But don’t worry, with consistent care, you can successfully manage your pet’s diabetes.
But, it’s definitely a life changing experience. If it’s best for you to give your dog shots at say 8am and 8pm, you need to do your best to stick as close to that as possible. So, if you’ve got to be at the office early in the morning one day, you’ve got to account for that. If you’ll be out late for dinner with friends, you have to plan for that too. As your veterinarian will discuss with you, you also don’t want to be giving your dog insulin shots on an empty stomach. So getting them to eat before shooting them can be another challenge, especially if you have a dog as stubborn as a Samoyed! Eventually, Zoya learned not to eat unless we gave her cheese or peanut butter on her food. Remember, Queen of the Castle! 🙂
When Zoya, and later Ramius, developed diabetes, it was definitely something that had an impact on our life. But, that’s the responsibility you take on as a pet parent right? And honestly, in the end, it really isn’t that big of a deal. It becomes sort of like brushing your teeth. It’s just something you have to do every morning and every night, and eventually it’ll become a habit.
Consider Getting Good Pet Insurance
We feel very strongly that you should consider getting pet insurance for your dog if you can. Unfortunately, we didn’t have it for Zoya so all of the expenses related to her diabetes, and later her cancer, came out of our pocket. Nowadays, we use Healthy Paws Pet Insurance for Sacha. I highly recommend them and I’ve written a thorough review of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance which I would encourage all of you to read.
Anyway, not having pet insurance for any of our dogs is a mistake we’ll never make again! We got pet insurance for Sacha the day we brought him home as a puppy and that same day, we got insurance for Ramius too. And we’re so lucky that we did! Most pet insurance plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Fortunately, we were able to get Ramius covered before he developed diabetes and later on in his life, cancer. That decision literally ended up saving us tens of thousands of dollars, and more importantly, allowed us to give Ramius the best care possible. I’ll be talking much more about that in the coming weeks and month.
Luckily, we really haven’t had to use our pet insurance for Sacha yet. But if we ever do, we know that the financial question, which can be a very significant issue, will be taken out of the equation, and we can focus strictly on getting him the care that he needs.
For us, that peace of mind is immeasurable.
Living a Normal Life with Your Diabetic Dog
With early identification, a good veterinarian, dedication, and proper care provided by you, you can manage your dog’s diabetes and they can have a balanced life. So please, make yourself aware of the warning signs. If you notice any of these signs or a change in your dog’s personality, take them to the veterinarian.
And if your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, don’t be scared! You can work with your veterinarian to manage it. Be patient, do what they tell you to do, accept that it will change your life, and then just love your dog. You’ll both be happy you did!
And then, in the future, do what we do. Place your pet under strict orders not to get diabetes, cancer, or any other kind of illness. Hear that Sacha?! No diseases, or soup, for you!