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My Dog Has Diabetes - A Lesson in Conquering Fear

Updated on July 9, 2015

THE DAY I SHOT MY DOG

I know what you're thinking, how could anyone shoot their beloved pet, or any of this planet's beautiful creatures for that matter? Well of course I could never on my darkest of days ever even dream of doing such a thing. I am an animal lover to the nth degree, I have been a vegetarian since I was nine years old, I have an intense fear of needles. Oh wait, we haven't gotten there yet, let me back up.

Just a pup
Just a pup

Lets Start at the Beginning

Having just arrived back from a visit to my local vets office, this is what I feel he has just told me. "Janna, your dog Bane not only has the heart problems we have been treating him for the past year and a half, but has now against all odds developed diabetes as well. But here's the best part, you now get to throw aside your lifelong fear of needles and inject that sucker twice a day for the rest of your, err, I mean his life. Here, its easy - just take the needle and fill it to this line, lift the skin and... Janna? Janna are you okay, you look a little flushed?" Cue blackout. Okay, perhaps it didn't go exactly like that, but darn close.

You want to know why I have a fear of needles? We'll I'm going to tell you anyway. Its not like my fear of swimming pools, which developed after watching the movie Jaws far too young and then going swimming right after. Don't ask me how I thought the sharks were going to get into the swimming pool. Perhaps they were sharks from the future, capable of transporting themselves into any body of water within the space/time continuum. Its not like my fear of using metal silverware, because I think it has a suspicious taste. Or my fear of heights, because hey, its scary up there. I understand that these are silly fears brought on by an all too active imagination that have somehow stayed with me into adulthood. My fear of needles is all thanks to my loving microbiologist mother, who when I was a child thought it was oh so much fun to look at the veins in my arms and tell me how nice and plump they looked. Sounds more like a vampire now that I think about it, perhaps I should have developed a fear of them. Anyway, what she was referring to was how easy it would be to draw my blood. Awesome, just what every kid wants, plump and juicy veins. Barf. Why on earth you would mess with a child like this is beyond me, but it without a doubt FREAKED ME OUT.

My whole life I have tried my best to avoid even the sight of a needle. Someone drawing blood on TV? You'll find me closing my eyes and burying my arms in the nearest blanket, in my mind it's as if the phlebotomist is coming through the television to get me next. I get nauseous and my body aches at just the sight of them, to sum it up I hate and fear them with the fire of a thousand suns. But, I love my dog, and love trumps fear any day in my book.

Butler Bane Maximillion

Butler Bane Maximilian is my loving long-haired chihuahua who I've had since he was just a pup. I now know thanks to my favorite vet in the world, Dr. Hughes, that my poor chihuahua Bane has developed diabetes. Which despite the seriousness of the diagnosis is actually good news. Bane has been losing weight rather quickly, what I thought was a sure sign of kidney failure - if that had been the case I knew I had very little time left with my beloved pet. But diabetes is treatable. With a needle. Yay.

Most dogs develop diabetes when they are 7-9 years old, but you see, Bane is and has always been an overachiever. Think you need all of your small intestine? HA! Bane laughs in the face of your small intestine, he is missing two feet of his thanks to a strategically placed macadamia nut. You think boy dogs don't want to "do it" after being neutered? HA! Bane thinks those other dogs are a bunch of sissies, his sex drive just keeps going and going long after his little guys have left the building. You think dogs develop diabetes between the ages of 7-9? HA! Bane just turned 14 last month and scoffs at nature and its silly averages, he developed diabetes 5 YEARS after the tail end of that little fortune cookie. Take that nature.

Fear is the mind killer.

Okay, now that we have established that 1.) I have an intense fear of needles, and 2.) that using a needle is the only way to prevent a slow and painful death for my little love muffin the time has come for me to just suck it up and do it. I wish it were that easy.

Poor Bane, his sweet innocent face looking up at me with no idea the ordeal he is about to endure. Sadly, not only is Bane an overachiever but he is also the biggest wussy dog I have every come across. I had no idea that animals could scream until the first day he was approached by my pet ferret. All it took was a happy bouncing ferret coming to say hello and Bane was reduced to screaming little girl running for his life. Hilarious to see, but not so good for my confidence that he can suck it up and take a shot like a man.

I believe that animals can sense when we are upset or nervous, angry or happy - so I've no doubt that my first attempt at injecting Bane was made worse by the overwhelming feeling I had to run out of the room crying and hide under my blanky. Here's a step by step guide of how not to inject your dog with insulin, it also happens to be exactly what happened with my first attempt:

Fill up needle to required dosage.

Find Bane.

Put Bane on lap.

Pull up skin in tent-like shape.

Attempt injection.

Get needle in.

Bane wiggles and yelps, needle comes out.

Try again.

Wiggle and Yelp.

Try again.

Wiggle and Yelp.

Bring Bane to Husband to hold.

Try again.

Wiggle and Yelp.

Try again.

Wiggle and Yelp.

Husband gets firmer grip.

Wiggle and Yelp.

Shot is in. I think.

Have complete nervous breakdown.

Just do it

Not a good first time, but hey, are first times ever really good? After this disastrous first attempt I begin to research how I can make this process less horrifying. To my dismay, I find very little on the Internet about dealing with difficulty giving dogs insulin shots. Finding this extremely discouraging, I then turned to sites dedicated to concerned parents having trouble injecting their children with insulin. After all, dogs are really just our furry children right? Having now developed a new plan of action here is my strategy.

1.) Suck it up! - Of course I had already thought I had been sucking it up by accepting that I had to give the shots, but this is obviously not enough. I have to truly accept that this is now my life, that I must be strong and confident. My weakness makes Bane weak, and that just makes it the experience harder for everyone and that is especially unfair to Bane.

2.) Accept that shots are a good thing - Not only do I have to remember that these shots are saving Bane's life, but I have to convince Bane that shot time is party time. Like "Hey, that's weird that my owner just poked me, but look at that delicious lean puperoni she is holding. Mmmmm medicine time = puperoni time, sweet!"

2.) Create a routine - By creating a routine and doing things the same every-time I can begin to get Bane and myself to not think twice about the shots. This is what happens twice a day, everyday at 7am and 7pm after meals. Feed, shot, puperoni, praise. This is the way it will be from now on.

90 Days

That is what it took. 90 days of my husband putting Bane in a headlock twice a day to give him his shots before:

1.) I now handle a needle like a pro

2.) Bane takes it like a champ.

Throughout the first 90 days of our new arrangement, from time to time, I would attempt to give the shots to Bane by myself which always resulted in failure. Around the 90 day mark I tried again. I sat on the floor and placed Bane between my legs facing out, with his beloved puperoni on the floor in front of him where he could see it. I lifted his skin a little lower than normal, about shoulder area and popped that sucker in there with no problem. He got his treat and his praise and life went on. At first I thought it was a glass of wine, my liquid courage if you will, that had made the difference. But the very next morning, I let my husband sleep in and gave him his shot the same way I had the night before. He knew it was coming, because his back did this cute little twitchy thing that happens every time now, but he had accepted that this was what happened in his life, why fight it?

I too have accepted this as a part of my life. Is my needle phobia cured? Not exactly. I have now just disassociated the kind of needles that put stuff into our bodies from the ones that take stuff out. I am actually getting all queasy just thinking about getting my blood drawn, where's my blankey! I know it may seem a little strange, but this is what we as humans do, we adapt to our life and our environment. I have adapted my fear and Bane has adapted his tolerance to pokey things. And now we live happily ever after. The end.

RIP Bane

Bane went to the big dog park in the sky on his own terms, barking and running laps around the house. He was an awesome dog and I miss him greatly.

What Say Ye?

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    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 15 months ago

      Hi, Cute to Boot, I'm so sorry about your precious little dog.

      I just now found your hub and I have to commiserate. My cat, Tas, was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago. Our vet said that veterinary insulin wasn't effective for cats and prescribed glargine, made for humans. I found that it was more cost effective in the long run to buy the already-filled injectible pens. We use just a little more than one a month. The cost for a box of pens has skyrocketed from $186 to $500, but I will pay it for my little love muffin.

      After Tas realized that the shots made him feel better, he would come and remind us that it was time for my husband to give him his shot. I give them sometimes when his daddy isn't available. He doesn't like it when I give them because I'm not as adept. His mother died of what we now know was undiagnosed diabetes a couple of years before he was diagnosed, but being a "woman" her symptoms were different so the vet missed them.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My dog was also diagnosed with diabetes, at first he was okay with the shots but after a couple of weeks it became nearly impossible. Our solution was to administer the shot while walking him as he's going. I know this might seem kind of out there but its the only method that's consistently worked.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for this story. My dog was diagnosed as diabetic a month and 1/2 ago. At first, she didn't react to the shots, and I quickly got over my fear. However, about 2 weeks ago, she started to fight her shots and sometimes cries when I inject her. Sometimes she moves around a lot and the shot falls out... which means I have to inject her again. Its heartbreaking. Its comforting to hear someone has a similar story and that there is hope that this will get better. Thanks.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank you for your humorous but reassuring article about giving insulin shots to Bane. I personal do not mind shots--have had lots of dental work done as well as as injections into my back. Our cat, Oscar, who was diagnosed with diabetes about a year ago--he calmly eats his food when my husband injects him. Tonight I tried to give Oscar his shot because my husband is going away this weekend. Shockingly to me, I suddenly became nauseous, started shaking and felt weak from head to toe! One would have thought I needed an insulin short! Why am I responding this way? Not sure I can "man up" in time for this weekend--my married daughter will have to come to the rescue--but that cannot be a permanent solution. Tried to explain to my husband that this was like his fear of heights with one exception--he can avoid heights. Oscar needs his shots!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I found your site by Googling "I hate to give my dog insulin." I am dealing with the same phobia about needles and fear of hurting my newly diagnosed Terrier. Thanks for your humorous approach and for letting me know I am not the only one!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Enoyed your story...I also have a long hair chi with congestive heart failure and now is developing diabetes (increase thirst and of course urinating). Going to vet in a few days to get his opine. Lost another to ketoacidosis on Christmas Day. I think it strange that my chis are developing CHF and diabetes. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We adopted a dog from the SPCA, one eye and 3 legs. They didn't know she had diabetes. We only had her 2 days, and took her in for routine testing. She ended up staying there for 3 days. We were told how to give the shots, but it was pointless. The struggle, the frustration, the fact that she was being pricked and the needle bent was too much. We have to board her there some days during the week so the Vets can give her her shots, and then we pick her up and she spends the rest of the time with us and we just take her back and forth to the vet for shots. We would not of adopted her if we knew she had diabetes. But now that we have her, we just had to come up with another plan. Very sad for everyone really. Why can't they come up with some type of oral medication? Treating a human is easier because they know they have to have it and need it for their health, but dogs don't.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      You described exactly what we went through with our dog. It isn't easy, but pets can and do live a long life even with diabetes. Thanks for telling your story. Hope people take it to heart.

    • Cute to Boot profile image
      Author

      Cute to Boot 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi M. I am truly sorry that you and your pup are having to go through this. 4 months is so young, but I think that her age could work to your benefit. Soon she will not remember life without being poked with a needle a couple times a day. It must be rough though, puppies by nature are more wiggly than older dogs. I wish I could be there to comfort and give you strength. I remember so many times being brought to tears with frustration, but you know what? It gets better! We humans are capable of incredible things. We can be strong for ourselves, but we can be stronger for the ones we love. You love your pup and you will get through this. One week can seem like an eternity when dealing with a challenge such as this, it took 3 months before Bane and I were able to incorporate insulin shots into our lives. Just remember you are not alone, there are so many others going through the same thing, and even more who have conquered it. Stay strong :)

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Hi there. First off thank you for this article. I am in the first week of giving my newly adopted 4 month old pup shots and each time is a struggle. Not only am I nervous and involuntarily shaking, but she just wont sit still even when people try to hold her down. I try to take a deep breath and do it quickly but once i get it in she yelps and wiggles (sometimes she even wiggles when i pull up her skin). I know it isn't supposed to hurt her but for some reason i end up pulling the needle out. I try to play around with her scruff often so that she gets used to me pinching it as well. I try to go outside and take a deep breath and try again but then I ended up failing. It makes me so overwhelmed and frustrated that I can't do this to save her life. I am bringing her to the vet to see if they have any tips and show me again as I can't afford to fail again and not give her the insulin dose. I feel she now knows what is going to happen and assumes this experience is going to be horrible from now on. I know it has only been the first week so I will try my best to be patient. Not being able to give her the shots consumes my mind. I research it all night and know how to do it but for some reason I just can't execute when the time comes. I may try to give it to her when she is eating as she doesn't sit still with the treat situation. Thank you for sharing your story. It appears to have had a great impact on many people. I will not give up and I will try again....any additional tips? It makes me feel better to know that other people have experienced this and in time they will (or should) get used to the routine. It appears I have to keep trying and be patient....

    • Cute to Boot profile image
      Author

      Cute to Boot 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Trudie, I am so sorry you are having to go through this. I know how stressful and emotionally difficult it can be to make this kind of adjustment in your life. But, it does get better! Remember, animals have a crazy way of sensing our emotions. We must be strong for them, we need to lead by example and they will follow. It took Bane and I 3 months to get this whole injection thing right. Which I know seems like a long time, but in the big picture, is just a moment in time. We do anything for our animals, we do for them what they can not do for themselves. Be strong, you are not alone :)

    • Cute to Boot profile image
      Author

      Cute to Boot 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Tracey I am so glad that my story has helped you. It really does get better, I believe that in no time you two will be pros! Just remember to relax, if he tried to bite you after you tried in one spot - move half an inch up or down and see if it make any difference. There are sweet spots! And make the experience a rewarding one for him. What does he like? If he like walks you could always take him on a little walk after, he will associate the two quickly. Please send me a message if you need any more advice!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      My boy Cooper and I are in our first week of the rest of our lives with the dreaded needle ,for the first time in our four years together he bit my hand while I was trying to stick him last night ,after a sleepless night of shock that my best friend could do this and anguish about the next shot I reached for the iPad and found your story ,Thankyou for sharing you have given me the courage to try again or perhaps buy a Whip and Chair ha ha .regards Tracey

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 6 years ago from Iowa

      I'm a diabetic and for awhile I had to give myself shots daily. At the time I was also a veterinary technician but I couldn't bring myself to vaccinate my own dogs despite being very capable with a needle. I always had to have my boss do the deed. So good on you for taking to the task at hand. Nicely written lens. :)

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      Light-in-me 6 years ago

      I am glad you were able to overcome, funny how love can make us do things we never thought we could do. You have a wonderful writing style and I enjoyed my visit.

      Nice job,

      Robin :)

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      Pet Health and having to give Insulin Shots to Dogs can be overwhelming in the beginning, but as you have shown it can be learned. Glad to see you learned how to give the shots, and your baby learned how to take them :)

    • burgessvillian profile image

      burgessvillian 6 years ago

      I had to learn to inject piglets. It was difficult at first also. Good story. Thumbs up.

    • Richard-H profile image

      Richard 6 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      My wife is a diabetic, so I know all about needles! Pleased that you were able to overcome your fears and hoping that your dog is now as healthy as can be :)

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      aishu19 6 years ago

      Wow! This is indeed an interesting read. I am glad you managed to put your fears aside to take care of your dog