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How Much Insulin Will Kill A Cat

The Tragedy Of Tommy Boy

The Tragedy Of Tommy Boy

My Tommy Boy has his angel wings... Tommy Boy Tommy Boy, my little macho tabby cat, was born in the palms of my hands to a stray mother cat, Maryann, whom I had taken off the street. Four litters of Maryann’s kittens had grown up feral in the street, and come to a variety of awful fates. A nice lady down the block was feeding them, but she was elderly and unable to TNR. The day I saw Mary pregnant for the fourth time in three years, I said, “OK lady, that’s enough. You’re coming with me.” I grabbed her, took her in over her great protests, and she had her babies, 7 of them, in my home with my husband and myself as midwives. Breaking the cycle, Tommy Boy and his siblings began life in safety and love, in a home instead of the street. Tommy Boy wasn’t a runt but he was the last born. I could always distinguish him from his brothers and sisters, who were all identical tabbies, by the white tip on the end of his tail. As Tommy Boy grew up, I also recognized him by his vanguard personality. He was the first to do everything; the first to open his eyes, the first to walk, the first to climb out of his baby bed at only two weeks old. He was the first to seek out human company, and the first to try to climb the virtual Everest (to him at 4” long) of our bed. At approximately three weeks old, Tommy Boy started coming clear across the apartment to sit on my foot as I worked. That pretty much cemented his status as a member of our family, and when all the other kittens got adopted to new families, Tommy Boy stayed. Tommy Boy had a long, mostly happy life. But the point of my article is not to write Tommy Boy’s life story, only the end of it, which broke my heart and was entirely unnecessary, so that other guardians of diabetic pets can learn from my mistake. Tommy Continue reading >>

Overdose And Toxicity In Cats

Overdose And Toxicity In Cats

Care must be taken to follow your veterinarian's recommendations regarding medication administration. Problems associated with medication include allergic reactions, overdose and toxicity. Allergic reactions are uncommon. There is no way for your veterinarian to predict which medications your pet is allergic to so you must watch your pet carefully while on any medication, even the same medication he has received in the past. Typically medication allergic reactions develop after multiple doses of the medication. If you notice your pet has scratching or itching, facial swelling or hives, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If you are not able to contact your veterinarian immediately, stop administering the medication unless doing so would be life threatening. Contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Overdose can occur if a pet receives an excessively large dose. This may be due to each member of the family medicating the pet without knowing that he has already received his medication, the curious pet chewing the bottle and ingesting all the medication or in certain situations even when the pet is on the proper dose. A few medications can result in overdose even though you are following the prescription recommendations. There are some diseases in which the pet may no longer require that dose of medication or may no longer need the medication at all. There is no way to predict this. A good example of this situation is diabetes. Pets may require a specific dose of insulin and do well on that dose for quite a while. Suddenly, the dose you are giving may be an overdose and the pet becomes hypoglycemic. Toxicity is different from overdose. Toxicity is the administration of a medication that has no therapeutic benefit to the animal, in any dose. Overdoses are ex Continue reading >>

Avoiding Hypos

Avoiding Hypos

Successfully treating diabetes while avoiding hypoglycemia is the goal of every living creature suffering from the disease. Though Drs. Fleeman and Rand wrote the article focusing on diabetic dogs, much of the advice applies to all pets with diabetes. When in doubt, DON'T! If there's ever any confusion about whether or not insulin was administered, the injection should be omitted. Missing one shot will not harm your pet[1], while hypoglycemia can kill[2][3]. If you have only administered a portion of the insulin injection, do not try giving more. You are not certain actually how much insulin really went where it was meant to. Trying to draw more to make up for the error may result in a total of too much insulin being given--the result being hypoglycemia. Even if every last drop from the syringe went into the fur and not under the skin, the safest thing to do is to leave it at that, not giving any insulin until the next scheduled dose is due. Missing one shot will not result in permanent damage nor will it mean that your regulated pet will become un-regulated and you will have to begin all over again. It may mean some higher than usual blood glucose values for possibly 2-3 days which can be handled by staying with your usual dosage & insulin schedule[4]. This is far better than treating a hypo or having the pet wind up at the vets or ER trying to overcome the effects of too much insulin[5]. People with diabetes sometimes have similar mishaps and handle them much like this. If you are using more than one insulin to manage your pet's diabetes, you likely have a faster-acting one and a slower-acting one. Mistaking either of them for the other can result in hypoglycemia if the wrong insulin is given. Keep them in separate places in the refrigerator, put large labels on each Continue reading >>

Can Injecting A Huge Dose Of Insulin Kill A Healthy Person?

Can Injecting A Huge Dose Of Insulin Kill A Healthy Person?

insulin is a crappy tool to try to use to kill yourself. Not surprisingly, studies of insulin suicides are somewhat scarce, but one looked at 160 insulin suicide attempts and found that 94.7% of the PWDs fully recovered, 2.7% developed “cerebral defects,” and 2.7% were successful in killing themselves. I was blown away by the fact that your odds of being permanently brain damaged from an insulin suicide attempt are exactly equal to your odds of success. Put another way, the overall odds are that nothing will come of your attempt, but if you do have any “luck” you have a 50% chance of dying and a 50% chance of living and being brain damaged. And if you end up brain damaged, you’ll probably want to kill yourself. Of course, if you couldn’t get it right with a full brain, I don’t think much of your odds with half a brain. Oh, and it’s not just insulin. For all the risks of prescription meds, they really aren’t particularly good suicide tools. The average fatality rate for all intentional medication overdoses is estimated at only 1.8%. By comparison, trains are apparently quite effective—with an overall 90% fatality rate—as are volcanoes. Still, I can see the temptation. While estimates vary widely, and can be controversial, we all know that too much insulin can kill you. It’s one of the night terrors we all live with. And I’ll bet there’s not one of us, when filling that syringe of fluid that keeps us alive, who hasn’t had a quick shadow pass over our minds: I wonder how much of this crap it would take to end it all, forever? After all, suicide tools and methods are cultural. For instance, in the USA less than 2% of suicides are jumps from high places, while jumping to one’s death accounts for more than half of suicides in Hong Kong. That be Continue reading >>

How To Euthanize A Dog Or Cat: Don't Try This At Home

How To Euthanize A Dog Or Cat: Don't Try This At Home

Twice in as many weeks I’ve been asked whether I would authorize the at-home euthanasia of a pet…with a household stash of controlled drugs. Both individuals asking are in the human medical profession. That’s why I’m guessing their query emerged out of (1) an expectation that a house call option was not available; and (2) an understanding that these things can be done at home by someone who knows what they’re doing. While wrong on number one (several vets in my area make themselves available for at-home euthanasias, including myself), they’d be right on number two — by referencing number one. Some things are best left to the healthcare providers who do it on a regular basis. Though it is indeed possible to usher your pet from this world on an overdose of oral barbiturates or expired oxycodone prescribed for your last surgery, you won’t catch me recommending it if someone asks me how to euthanize a dog or cat at home — even to my good friends (in fact, one of those asking about this possibility was a human doc and a friend). And it’s not just the legal angle here that makes me a naysayer when it comes to DIY home euthanasias — nor the money thing (in case you think me mercenary enough to protect my profession and its precious euthanasia income stream). What makes me nervous are the possibilities… Imagine what would happen if things didn’t go just right. Let’s say your cat refuses to take more than six of the pills and you’ve somehow calculated that twenty would be a sufficient dose. Let’s say he then has a hard time breathing and you can’t for the life of you get more into him now that he’s so stressed. That’s a nightmare scenario. Or how about the dog who throws up her load of (how many?) pills while you’re sitting around waiting Continue reading >>

Annabessacook Veterinary Clinic

Annabessacook Veterinary Clinic

Annabessacook Veterinary Clinic 417 Route 135 Monmouth, Maine 04259 (207)933-2165 _____________________________________________________________________________ Diabetes Mellitus in Cats There are two forms of diabetes in cats: diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus. Diabetes insipidus is a very rare disorder that results in failure to regulate body water content. Your cat has the more common type of diabetes, diabetes mellitus. This disease is seen on a fairly regular basis, usually in cats 5 years of age or older. Simply put, diabetes mellitus is a failure of the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. The pancreas is a small but vital organ that is located near the stomach. It has two significant populations of cells. One group of cells produces the enzymes necessary for proper digestion. The other group, called beta cells, produces the hormone called insulin. Types of Diabetes In cats, two types of diabetes mellitus have been discovered. Both types are similar in that there is a failure to regulate blood sugar, but the basic mechanisms of disease differ somewhat between the two groups. 1. Type I, or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus, results from total or near-complete destruction of the beta cells. This is the most common type of feline diabetes. As the name implies, cats with this type of diabetes require insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar. 2. Type II, or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM), is different because some insulin-producing cells remain. However, the amount produced is insufficient, there is a delayed response in secreting it, and the tissues of the cat’s body are relatively resistant to it. These cats may be treated with an oral drug that stimulates the remaining functional cells to produce or release insulin in an adequate amount t Continue reading >>

How I Got My Diabetic Cat “off The Juice”

How I Got My Diabetic Cat “off The Juice”

Learn about the how, when, where and who of managing feline diabetes. Today at Paws and Effect HQ, we’re celebrating Bella’s two-year “remissioniversary!” Bella came to us with insulin-dependent diabetes, and just a couple of weeks later she was in remission. If you have a diabetic cat, I hope you’ll take heart from our story and use some of the resources that helped me to help Bella. I met Bella at HART of Maine, a no-kill cat shelter in southern Maine. She and several other diabetic cats had been under the care of HART’s former “diabetic den mother,” Margaret B. When Margaret learned that I wanted to adopt Bella, she took time to teach me to test her blood glucose and how to give insulin shots. She was just a phone call or text away as I learned how to care for a diabetic cat. Thanks to her and my vet, I got Bella into remission, and here’s how I did it. 1. Join a support community Every caretaker of a diabetic cat should have a mentor. Margaret was a real blessing to me, and it would be awesome if everyone who lives with a “sugar kitty” had a Margaret of their own. But even if you don’t have a Margaret, you can find great information and support at FelineDiabetes.com. Through their Feline Diabetes Message Board, people with diabetic cats can learn and get emotional support as they get used to the idea of living with a diabetic kitty. 2. No kibble, ever Food that is low in carbohydrates and high in protein is key to managing diabetes. I feed Bella and the rest of the Paws and Effect Gang a freeze-dried raw food that I rehydrate with warm water. But you don’t have to go raw — there are quite a few canned foods that meet the criteria for managing diabetes, including a few brands you can find in the grocery store. Check out Dr. Lisa Pierson’ Continue reading >>

Giving Your Client's Cat Insulin For Treating Feline Diabetes

Giving Your Client's Cat Insulin For Treating Feline Diabetes

...managing and tracking the cat's progress Giving your client's cat insulin to treat feline diabetes can begin to get difficult as most of the work begins after leaving the practice... Using Insulin to treat diabetes in felines Once you have to give them insulin, if you have an owner who is not terribly confident that they are going to be able to pick up a hypoglycaemic event, then I will use Caninsulin (a mix of porcine insulin’s 40iu/ml) because it is shorter acting and does not build up over the 18 – 24 hour period like the Glargine does (and which often results result in a hypoglycaemic event, that can last for hours). Nevertheless, Marshall and Rand think it is a risk worth taking. The cats usually only end up needing 1 – 4 units of either kind of insulin twice a day – the Glargine especially seems to keep them stable at 2 units twice a day. Once you push up into the 3 or 4 units, you can bring them into remission, but it is often via a sudden hypoglycaemic event, which is unpleasant all round. And is, I guess, the reason that the Glargine insulin protocol recommends treating them in hospital. After giving the cat insulin, the process to stabilise Fluffy at home, usually starts at 1 or 2 units of either kind of insulin twice a day. You need to get the owners to bring the cat in after a couple of days to measure its blood glucose 3 hours after their insulin dose and breakfast. It does not matter about meal-feeding cats, as they do not get the post-prandial glucose spike (ref: The Cat as Model for Human Obesity and Diabetes; Hoenig) – because they are digesting protein and balancing out the glucose release after it has been deconstructed from protein in the liver. It is more natural for a cat to graze-feed anyway, so if that is what the cat wants to do, th Continue reading >>

Common Feline Health Concerns

Common Feline Health Concerns

BACK TO MENU We see a lot of cats that eliminate outside their box. It's a very stinky, frustrating problem. I'll walk you through the questions I consider in order to figure out why a cat urinates inappropriately and some of the steps we take to correct it. First question: Is this a medical problem or a behavioral problem? Medical problems like a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, an inflamed bladder or a bladder tumor can make a cat urinate outside his or her box. A metabolic disease, such as diabetes or kidney failure, which can make a cat drink and urinate a lot, can also make a cat urinate outside the box. Have your veterinarian examine your cat and perform the diagnostic tests deemed necessary. This will usually involve doing urine tests and blood tests. It may also involve either taking an X-ray or performing an ultrasound examination to look at your cat's bladder. If your cat is free of any medical problems, then there is a behavioral issue causing him or her to eliminate outside the box. Second question: If it's a behavioral problem, then is your cat marking his or her territory, or does he or she have a litter box aversion or an inappropriate site preference? Urine Marking - Cats that are marking their territory often urinate on vertical surfaces, like walls or the back of a chair. When a cat marks (sprays), he or she will stand and their tail quivers. Even when spayed and neutered, cats can still mark their territory. Cats may mark their territory when a stray cat is hanging around, when there is a new pet or family member, or if they are stressed about something like a diet change or not enough attention. Suggested treatment - First spay or neuter you cat. Second, try to identify why your cat is marking. Is there a stray cat coming around your house? D Continue reading >>

Handling A Diabetes Emergency

Handling A Diabetes Emergency

Emergencies can happen at any time, so it's best to be prepared and know what to do if an emergency occurs. Talking with your veterinarian is a crucial part of being informed and prepared to handle emergencies. Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) The most common side effect experienced with insulin therapy is hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can be caused by: Missing or delaying food. Change in food, diet, or amount fed. Infection or illness. Change in the body's need for insulin. Diseases of the adrenal, pituitary, or thyroid glands, or progression of liver or kidney disease. Interaction with other drugs (such as steroids). Change (increase) in exercise. Signs of hypoglycemia may occur suddenly and can include: Weakness Depression Behavioral changes Muscle twitching Anxiety Seizures Coma Death See below for a list of other side effects. What to do If your pet is conscious, rub a tablespoon of corn syrup on his or her gums. When your pet is able to swallow, feed him or her a usual meal and contact your veterinarian. If your pet is unconscious or having a seizure, this is a medical emergency. CONTACT YOUR VETERINARIAN. In the meantime, you should immediately treat your pet rather than delaying management. Pour a small amount of a sugar solution (eg, corn syrup) onto your finger and then rub the sugar solution onto your pet's gums. The sugar is absorbed very quickly and your pet should respond in 1 to 2 minutes. The sugar solution should never be poured directly into your pet's mouth since there is a risk that the solution will be inhaled into the lungs. Once your pet has responded to the sugar administration and is sitting up, it can be fed a small amount of its regular food. Once the pet has stabilized, it should be transported to your veterinarian for evaluation. Your pet's diet Continue reading >>

Insulin 101

Insulin 101

1. KNOW THE TYPE OF INSULIN & HAVE THE RIGHT SYRINGE First of all, you need to know what type of insulin your cat is receiving. Lantus (glargine) and Levemir (detemir) are increasingly common insulins prescribed by veterinarians with current knowledge of feline diabetes. Some vets will still try to prescribe Humulin N. Do NOT use this type of insulin as it has unpredicatable results in cats. PZI is still used some although it is being phased out. Vetsulin is not the best choice for your cat. You need to be aware of the type of insulin you are using and you need to know its concentration, listed in units (U). The concentration, in the United States, is most often U-40 but some insulins are manufactured in U-100 concentration. To give the proper dose, the syringes you use must match the concentration of the insulin. To be sure you get the right syringe, take your insulin (or the insulin box) into your pharmacist when you go to buy syringes and the pharmacist will make sure you get the right syringes. When you buy the next batch of syringes, take the syringe packaging with you to make sure you buy the right type. If for some reason you must use a U-40 syringe for a U-100 insulin, or vice versa, use our conversion chart. 2. FOOD Always make sure your cat eats around the time (up to one hour before injection) of the insulin administration. This will insure that the cat has food in her stomach (and rising blood glucose levels as a result) to counteract the action of the insulin. Also, it is often easier to give the injection while your cat is eating. If your cat is having trouble with vomiting, be very careful and watch for possible hypoglycemic episodes. If your cat is not eating, consider skipping the insulin. Remember, if your cat does not eat for 24 hours, you should take Continue reading >>

Diabetes In Cats

Diabetes In Cats

What Is Diabetes Mellitus? There are two forms of diabetes in cats: diabetes insipidus and diabetes mellitus. Diabetes insipidus is a very rare disorder that results in failure to regulate body water content. The more common type of diabetes is diabetes mellitus. This disease is seen by the doctors at the Animal Clinic at Thorndale on a fairly regular basis, usually in cats 5 years of age or older. We have even diagnosed this disease in a 2 year old, rather obese cat. While having a “chubby buddy” may seem cute, the overweight cat is at risk for many health problems, just as is the overweight human. That said, not all diabetic cats are obese. There is also an increased incidence in older cats. Diabetes mellitus can be difficult to regulate in our pets. Understanding the disease will help you learn how to help your cat. Simply put, diabetes mellitus a failure of the pancreas to regulate blood sugar.The pancreas is a small but vital organ that is located near the stomach. It has two significant populations of cells. One group of cells produces the enzymes necessary for proper digestion. The other group, called beta cells, produces the hormone called insulin. Types of Diabetes in Cats In cats, two types of diabetes mellitus have been discovered. Both types are similar in that there is a failure to regulate blood sugar, but the basic mechanisms of disease differ somewhat between the two groups. Type I, or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus, results from total or near-complete destruction of the beta cells. This is the most common type of feline diabetes. As the name implies, cats with this type of diabetes require insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar. Type II, or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus, is different because some insulin-producing cells remain. H Continue reading >>

Ask D'mine: A Killing Dose Of Insulin

Ask D'mine: A Killing Dose Of Insulin

Hey, All: if you've got questions about life with diabetes, then you've come to the right place! That would be our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by veteran type 1, diabetes author and clinical specialist Wil Dubois. Today, Wil tackles a very serious question that we hope is just one of genuine curiosity. It's about suicide, a sensitive topic to be approached with the utmost caution. Read on to see how Wil responds... {Got your own questions? Email us at [email protected]} Anonymous, type 1 from California, asks: How much insulin would you need to take to kill yourself? [email protected] D’Mine answers: First off, don’t kill yourself. Second off, if you are determined to do it, don’t use insulin. It’s slow and unreliable, with a distinct risk that the attempt will leave you permanently damaged, rather than dead. More on that in a bit. But first, let’s start the day by talking about the different ways to end your day. The Wikipedia entry on suicide methods lists the following ways to usher yourself out of this world: Bleeding, drowning, suffocation, hypothermia, electrocution, jumping from height, using a firearm, hanging, ligature compression, vehicular impact from trains or cars, taking poison, not treating a disease, immolation (including throwing oneself into a volcano), starvation, dehydration, and suicide attack—sometimes called Suicide by Cop. The entry even includes a discussion on the use of homemade guillotines as a way of suicide. But no mention of insulin. That’s odd. Or maybe not, because, as I mentioned, insulin is a crappy tool to try to use to kill yourself. Not surprisingly, studies of insulin suicides are somewhat scarce, but one looked at 160 insulin suicide attempts and found that 94.7% of the PWDs fully recovered, 2.7% Continue reading >>

8 Deadly Cat Diseases

8 Deadly Cat Diseases

Pets are important members of our families, and they make our lives whole. Since they make us happy and healthy, it is especially heartbreaking when they are sick and in pain because we can feel helpless to make them feel better. Cats make up approximately thirty to thirty-seven percent of the pets in American households, and since more than thirty-five percent of cats are acquired as strays (with an estimated 70 million living as strays in the U.S.), it’s imperative we protect our domesticated cats from disease. Throughout my research, interviews, and heavy interrogation of my friends and family, I found these cat diseases to be the most prevalent and serious. And since cats can catch these eight diseases from other cats in your house, on the street, or in the shelter, it’s important to keep an eye on them and take them to the vet if they start exhibiting any odd symptoms or behavior. Kidney disease Symptoms: dry coat, weight loss, bad breath, drooling, increased urination and thirst Since kidneys play such a vital role in everyday bodily functions – they control blood pressure, produce hormones, and remove waste – it’s pretty scary when they don’t operate the way they’re supposed to. When kidneys break down, toxic waste forms in the bloodstream, affecting other organs and leading to renal failure. While kidney disease can affect all cats of age and breed, it is especially found in cats seven years of age and older and long-haired breeds like Persians and Angoras. Acute renal failure can also occur if your cat ingests a toxic substance like antifreeze, pesticides, or human medications like ibuprofen. "What heart disease is for humans, kidney disease is for felines – a leading cause of suffering and death," says Dr. Roberta Relford, chief medical officer Continue reading >>

Doctor, You Aren’t Listening To Me... What If I Do Nothing?

Doctor, You Aren’t Listening To Me... What If I Do Nothing?

A month ago my sister wanted to know if her Jack Russell Terrier could be sick because he was drinking and peeing all the time. I told her he needed to go to the vet; he could have a simple urinary tract infection or he could have more going on. Inside my head, I was screaming “diabetes” as polyuria/polydipsia (drinks a lot and pees a lot), or PU/PD as medical types call it, is a hallmark for diabetes mellitus in dogs, cats, and people. In dogs, diabetes mellitus rarely responds to dietary changes - unlike some people and some cats - and almost always requires twice daily insulin injections to control the disease. Having seen clients react to a diagnosis of diabetes, I wondered how my sister and her husband would react if they had to take care of this chronic condition that requires significant planning and scheduling. It’s not for every owner: while it’s not expensive, it requires insulin injections every 12 hours, 7 days a week for the rest of the pet’s life, with no time off for good behavior. It requires considerable commitment, which can be particularly difficult for people like my sister and her husband who work outside the home and can’t drop everything to give a pet medication at the appropriate times. I wondered what they would choose to do if their dog did have diabetes rather than a urinary tract infection. Receiving a diagnosis of a chronic disease can be difficult to wrap your mind around. During my years in practice, I noticed that there are some pretty universal questions most clients ask. “What are my options and what will happen if I do nothing?” When I hear this, I translate this into: a. How will the disease progress? Will this be a disease that progresses quickly or is it going to be something that is a nagging problem for years to co Continue reading >>

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