pets and travel

Traveling the US With a Diabetic Dog

I don’t know any diabetic people, so I don’t know if it’s normal to need a prescription for syringes and insulin but I know it shouldn’t be. In Argentina and Portland, the 2 places I have lived since Chena was diagnosed with diabetes, no one has ever mentioned to me that you need a piece of paper to get life saving medicine or the syringes to inject it, but every other state so far seems to think this it’s something you need permission from a doctor to get. To me that means “hey, I’m just following orders. I’m going to sit here and watch you die till you have a piece of paper for me”.

When you have a diabetic dog, this also means that Diabetic dog food needs a piece of paper as well (in every other state but Oregon so far). That is just INSANE as far as I’m concerned. I don’t see diabetic food in the grocery store needing any permission slips. What I’ve decided is that canine diabetes, and probably human diabetes, is yet another racket for someone to make money off of – mainly vets and doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and all the other red tape dispensers out there. I have allot of respect for vets and at least one friend who is a vet but I don’t have much respect for rules that affect the quality of life of others. I spent most of my life torn between being a vet or an artist (one was less 9 to 5 than the other) but I will admit that even if they have good intentions for the greatest beings on the planet, they are not above being money grubbing bureaucrats.

I first encountered problems in Spokane actually. I ran out of dog food about half way through my stay there and went to the local strip mall Vet’s office. When I went in and walked straight to the prescription pet food in the corner, I was jumped on like an injured deer by wolves, questions gnashed at me from drooling jaws (big exaggeration) as to my needs in their establishment. I didn’t see what I wanted anyway so I said, ” I need a case of Canine WD cans”. The woman looked baffled and disappointed, I apparently hadn’t followed protocol and presented her with a prescription for dog food, food that is in no way toxic or unhealthy for anyone or any dog to consume who is not diabetic. She proceeded to ask me if i was a patient, “no”, “who is your doctor” – “they’re in oregon”, “do you have their number or what is their name” – “gahh I cant remember!”,  – but then I did remember and she gave them a call. She was able to get permission over the phone, still leaving me without a prescription in writing but I hoped for the best – that Washington would be the only anal retentive state (HA!).

Since then, I encountered the same problem in Yucca Valley, California. I called them first to make sure I could get the food there in a conversation which they promptly informed me I needed a prescription as well. It was nearly 6, the hour they closed at, so I called my vet and begged for an expedited fax to the California Vet in question. My vet’s secretary started to argue that she wasn’t sure I was really allowed to get WD either because I had never bought it at their office. “Of course I didn’t buy it at your office, I take the max (the train, and yes with Chena), the Vet there, I don’t remember her name, a woman that I’ve only seen once – she must be kind of new, told me to start her on WD and get a blood testing kit, neither of which I bought from you”. She seemed unmoved and said she would have to wait for the vet to return from lunch. I had very little time, so I was (as I usually do in a Chena moment) panicking a little. While we were waiting a block away from the vets we went into Pet Smart to check the fiber levels on every dog food they carry since a bag of WD can be up to $60 for a 40lb bag. We ended up finding a bag of Science Diet that hat 17% fiber, comparably sufficient and much cheaper than WD, but still something I would have to transition her to. We called the vet at 20 minutes till 6 and they had gotten the fax. When we got there they only had 40lb bags and 10lb bags, one was too big and too expensive and the other was too small and per pound was even more expensive. I decided to try out the Science Diet from Pet Smart and bought 10 cans of WD from the Vet. Unfortunately even that was $30 – not a price I was happy about at $10 more than Oregon but it had to be done. What I wanted even more so than a big stock of prescription dog food was a copy of that prescription, luckily they were completely willing and we now have some sort of scribbled on piece of paper that says I can buy dog food without harassment (how completely silly).

The next problem I ran into with Chena’s diabetes was syringes. I left Portland with a little under 2 full boxes, about 200 syringes. I use 2 a day and always throw them away straight after (sue me for not having a sharps box, I want junkies to find her syringes rather than use ones from their friends arm and get HepC). When we arrived in Van Horn I came to the realization that I was on my last syringe. This is never a problem, usually. We just go to Walmart and get another box, no questions asked. Sometimes I buy insulin at the same time and sometimes not. It was going to be 18 degrees the night we arrived in Van Horn and we were pretty much out of propane for heat so we got a room at the Motel 6. There was a fridge so I took in her insulin and last syringe for her morning shot. When we woke up it was past checkout time and in a flurry of hauling our things to the RV, I must have left the syringe… I didn’t notice yet, assuming it would be in the insulin bag, and attempted to feed Chena like normal, luckily she was in one of her moods and wasn’t going to eat – so when I realized it was gone, she wasn’t too bad off (not supposed to give insulin to a dog who hasn’t eaten). Later that night after she did finally eat is when I noticed unfortunately.. then it was potentially bad. After me and Ross tore apart the RV looking for any syringe that might have possibly been left in a purse, bag, jacket, couch cushion, box, art box, book or drawer, we found nothing. I decided to wait a little while and give her a blood test. She tested at 250, which doesnt mean much to you or me for that matter – because documentation on blood test results for dogs is more or less useless – but I knew it wasnt bad. It wasnt low, under 100 I have assumed from what I have read, and it wasnt high – like 600, where she was last time she had a little diabetic fit. We decided to wait till the morning, a Sunday unfortunately.

I called every Pharmacy in town, all closed, then the Hospital, who said they could not and would not give me needles without a prescription. I of course went off in a rant about letting someone die because they don’t have a prescription and they basically agreed, yes, they would and will. I waited till the last minute to say it was for my dog, a fact that I don’t think should matter, and she recommended a vet. Annoyed and feeling like like any attempts at getting syringes would be hopeless in this town, I called the vet and expected an answering machine with an emergency contact number in its message. Instead a man answered, he had been called in on a completely separate emergency case and just happened to be in the office. I explained to him my situation and how I came to be completely out of syringes in a state far away from my own vet, and he told me he would have to examine Chena and I would have to pay an extra fee for a weekend emergency visit. I was getting pretty pissed at this point and told him I have all the paperwork (most in spanish unfortunately) and asked why my vets diagnosis and proof that she was diabetic wouldn’t be enough to just get some syringes so basically.. she doesn’t die. I think the “so she doesn’t die” thing worked because he agreed that if we brought in the paperwork he would look it over and give us some syringes. A short drive into town and we were equipped with 20 gargantuan, cattle injection sized needles – but needles none the less. He however could not give us a prescription for future syringe needs, because that would involve him having to examine her, something that is not cheap (at the time I had about $7).

The moral of the story is this. Will someone please change state laws so that people dont have to jump through hoops or spend $200 for blood tests every state to keep their pets from dying? PLEEEZE!!!

I still have the honor of finding out how hard it will be to get insulin soon. I have about a week or so left.

p.s. I found a bag of regular insulin needles yesterday and just about jumped off the roof of the RV.

Read more about Chena here: Chena’s Page!

Chena at Monohans Dune Hills State Park
Chena at Monahans Dune Hills State Park

Discover more from Nerds on the Road

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

Leave a Reply