Journal Scan: Owner expectations when treating pets with diabetes

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Journal Scan: Owner expectations when treating pets with diabetes

Knowing the barriers to care may aid in educating clients and addressing concerns that may impede care.
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Apr 15, 2015

Why they did it

Diabetes is a common endocrine problem in dogs and cats that requires extensive owner education and commitment to ensure a successful outcome. Knowledge of owner perception and barriers to care may aid veterinarians in educating clients and addressing concerns that may impede care.

What they did

Using an Internet-based survey, the researchers collected information from 834 owners of diabetic pets in the United States (27% dog owners; 73% cat owners). Owners were asked to assess their satisfaction with the management of their pets’ diabetes as well as questions regarding the type of treatment used, how diabetic monitoring was performed, and what lifestyle changes resulted from caring for a diabetic pet.

What they found

The researchers found that 66% of cat owners and 50% of dog owners were satisfied with the diabetic control they had achieved with their pets. In cats, PZI and glargine were the types of insulin used most often, and 75% of cat owners administered insulin twice daily. Porcine Lente insulin and NPH insulin were the insulins used in 76% of dogs.

Over half of owners reported being fearful of giving injections at the beginning of insulin therapy, but only 8% remained fearful of injections, and most owners thought their pets were calm when receiving injections. Most owners thought that treatment was expensive and that possible reasons why treatment would be declined included:

> The cost of veterinary care

> The inconvenience of adhering to a daily injection schedule

> The fear of giving injections

> The pet’s anticipated reaction to the injections

> The inconvenience of more frequent trips to the veterinarian

> The inconvenience of complying with a set feeding schedule

> The availability or willingness of other family members to administer injections

> The need to change the diet

Cat owners were more likely to monitor blood glucose concentrations at home, which was associated with fewer veterinary visits after the first three months of therapy.

Overall, two-thirds of owners thought their pets’ diabetes signs totally resolved or showed good improvement once therapy was initiated. Approximately half of owners expressed concern about arranging care for their pets when traveling; however, 77% of dog owners and 78% of cat owners thought that treatment was “easy to perform.”

Take-home message

Veterinarians can help educate clients about costs and expectations related to diabetes therapy. Knowledge of owner concerns such as cost of care, monitoring therapy, and care for pets while traveling provides veterinarians with an opportunity to directly address these issues with clients at the beginning of therapy to help improve compliance and patient care.

Aptekmann KP, Armstrong J, Coradini M, et al. Owner experiences in treating dogs and cats diagnosed with diabetes mellitus in the United States. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2014;50(4):247-253.

Link to abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24855090