Take the doom out of diabetes

Take the doom out of diabetes

With the right training and guidance—and just a little bit of encouragement—you can help clients understand that this common disease is actually quite manageable.
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Jun 30, 2014
By dvm360.com staff

It’s understandable that when most pet owners hear the word “diabetes,” they immediately imagine a lifetime of suffering for their pet—and a substantial investment of time and money on their part. But Dr. David Bruyette, DACVIM, medical director of VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital in Los Angeles, Calif., says it doesn’t have to be that way. “Pet owners often have concerns about the disease based on what they know about it in people,” he says. “We just need to adjust their perception.”

One way to do this is to make sure you communicate openly and honestly about the diagnosis once it’s made. Explain to clients that pets don’t have the same complications that people do and that most diabetic pets do quite well—and even have a good quality of life—with treatment. But that doesn’t mean keeping pet owners in the dark about the complications that pets can experience. “Up to 70 percent of dogs with diabetes will develop cataracts at some point,” Dr. Bruyette says. “Even if pet owners do a great job at home and come to the clinic frequently for regular check-ups, cataract formation is common. Pet owners need to be aware of this.”

Another important way to take the sting out of the diabetes diagnosis is to break down the pet owner’s role in the treatment process into manageable steps. Talk them through any changes they’ll make in their pet’s diet and feeding regimen and make sure they feel comfortable administering insulin injections. Ask a technician to show them how to draw up the insulin in a syringe and where to give the injections. Let clients practice with saline to get the feel of it.

Dr. Bruyette also steers clients toward reputable websites with videos that show the proper way to give insulin injections, just in case they get confused after they leave the hospital. Once clients are comfortable with these items, it’s easier to talk to them about monitoring their pet’s blood glucose at home, he says.

“We just need to make it doable for clients,” Dr. Bruyette says. “We need to encourage clients and let them know that by doing a few simple things at home, like feeding the right diet and giving insulin injections, there’s no reason their pet cannot live a good life.”

Dr. Bruyette also steers clients toward reputable websites with videos that show the proper way to give insulin injections, just in case they get confused after they leave the hospital. Once clients are comfortable with these items, it’s easier to talk to them about monitoring their pet’s blood glucose at home, he says. “We just need to make it doable for clients,” Dr. Bruyette says. “We need to encourage clients and let them know that by doing a few simple things at home, like feeding the right diet and giving insulin injections, there’s no reason their pet can’t live a good life.”

To download informational client handouts about diabetes in dogs and cats, visit dvm360.com/diabeteshandout.

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