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By Jim Gerland and Mark Winer

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Using the Internet To Keep Your Pet Healthy
June 26, 1998

We all love our pets almost as much as we love our family members. In fact, many of us think of our pets as family members. We'd do almost anything to keep them healthy. Recently, Chelsea, our Lhasa Apso, was diagnosed with canine diabetes. Not knowing much about this disease we naturally turned to the Internet to find out more about it. We now know that although diabetes can be a serious problem for dogs, with proper care Chelsea can live a somewhat normal life.

We began our search at our usual site, yahoo.com, where we did a search on "+canine +diabetes" (without the quotes) and got back pointers to 2,463 pages! Just as we suspected - there is a lot of information available on the Internet, no matter what the topic is.

The Canine Diabetes home page, www.original1.com/diabetes/, was a great place to begin our self-education. This site is loaded with good information about Diabetes Mellitus. It provided the information about Insulin that we were looking for, such as how to store it, how to give an injection, how long it can be used, and how to dispose of the used needles. Since we are computer folks we were pleased to find that they had software available that allowed us to monitor Chelsea's progress at home. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) contained answers to every question we had and helped us better understand what our vet was telling us about diet, exercise, and treatment. There's even an email list, muffin@esosoft.com, where pet owners can discuss canine diabetes. To join this list send email to majordomo@esosoft.com and in the body of the email put the line "subscribe muffin" (without the quotes).

Continuing our Internet travels we found the Veterinary Medicine web site, vetmedicine.miningco.com, maintained by Scott Nimmo, BVMS, MRCVS. This is another good site for canine medical information. We did a search for diabetes and found a wonderful article he wrote in March, 1997 for his monthly newsletter. We found another good newsletter over at the Veterinary Information Services, www.pressenter.com/~dvmvis/, called Canine Health which is published quarterly. They also had a good article explaining current therapies for treating canine diabetes.

One of the great things about the Internet is that it provides an electronic community for people to share common interests and discussions. One such community, Diabetes and My Dog, www.mnsi.net/~queenie/, has a chart where pet owners can list their dog's medication schedule, including age, weight, type of medication, dose, and frequency. There's also an area called The Animals of Muffin, where you can post a photo of your diabetic pet and share a memorial of your loved one. This site also provided many tips from other diabetic pet owners, including one about how to make the insulin injections less painful for you and your dog.

Since this was a new topic for us, we were confused by all the medical terms so we turned to the Encyclopedia of Canine Veterinary Medical Information, www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/deindex.php. This site, maintained by Michael Richards, DVM, contained definitions of all the terms we needed to lookup. He also offers a monthly newsletter and an area where subscribers can "Ask Dr. Mike" and non-subscribers can read the answers.

Along with daily insulin injections we found out that it was just as important to maintain a regular healthy diet. We dropped in at The Iams Company, www.iams.com, and used their search feature to find an article titled "Care for a Milkshake with that Kibble?" that talks about the latest work in canine diabetes treatment which shows that adding fiber to your pet's diet can help minimize glucose fluctuations. Looking around their site we also found an area where we could order travel mugs, frisbees, or a framed dog-stamps print. One of the other special pet food providers is The Hill's Company. At their Pet Nutrition site, www.hillspet.com, we found some good information about how to read pet food labels. This site also provides a "Fun Stuff" area where you can learn about pets in history, in the movies, on TV, and in comics. If you have a Java capable web browser you should check out their online crossword puzzle.

Although we've only mentioned web sites related to canine diabetes you'll find just as much information about feline diabetes our there on the Internet. Perhaps in a future column well talk about veterinary web sites in general. We uncovered hundreds of web sites in response to our search for "veterinary medicine" at Yahoo!.

We hope you found this topic interesting. Let us know what other topics you'd like us to write about. You can email us, info@internet-guys.com , or fax us, (716) 853-1350 and let us know what's happening on the Internet in WNY or any computing related activities you're involved with.