RV Travelers Pet Series: Canine Diabetes

In this blog, you’ll learn about ‘Bexar’ (pronounced ‘bear’) and what makes him a special RV nomad dog. You’re sure to fall in love with his gentle soul who is on his own journey with his special needs condition.

In January of 2016, we met a lovely, adventurous couple, Bill and Porter of TrinklesOnTour when we were boondocking at Quartzsite at the Xscapers Convergence. And again, we camped with them in Anza Borego, California for a small New Years’ Celebration in December 2017.

Our first day at Anza, it was hard not to notice their adorable dog, Bexar, slumbering on her raised bed while we all sat outside chatting. He sure loved his naps.

Eventually, through conversation, I learned Bexar was diabetic. I then shared that our cat, Krissie, was also diagnosed with diabetes. Our conversation turned from favorite places to boondock to dealing with our special needs pets’ care on the road.

So Bexar’s and Krissie’s story spawned an idea to start a segment on our blog of nomadic RV pets who are ‘a little more special’ and how their human parents deal with their medical needs on the road.

A little about Bexar…

‘Bexar’ (pronounced ‘bear’) was named after Bexar County Texas where he was discovered roaming the streets with his mom as a wee pup. Bill and Porter, also calling him Buddy, got him from a no-kill shelter in San Antonio when he was about three months old. 

Bexar or Buddy is an 11-year old Chesterfield (This is not an AKC recognized breed). He is a 45 pound black rescue dog. They think somebody in the border collie family might have been involved in his breeding.

Bexar’s diabetic condition…

They were seasonal RVers when Bexar was diagnosed with diabetes at 8 years old. They happened to be in the house at the time. They noticed he had been thirstier than usual for a day or so. They didn’t notice excessive urination that probably came with that until he didn’t make it through the night. They knew something wasn’t right, so they took him the next morning to a local vet who had seen Bexar previously. He ran tests and told Bill and Porter that Bexar was diabetic. They, like us, learned that if they managed Buddy Bexar condition, he could have a pretty normal life expectancy. As of when I wrote this blog, he’s had diabetes nearing four years.

When we interviewed Bill and Porter, we asked them a series of questions to help us understand how they continued their journey as full-time RVers but also as parents of a special needs dog.

How do you manage their Veterinarian visits?

Porter: We’ve established relationships with vets in places we tend to visit for longer periods of time. Bexar has vets who love to check up on him in SC, ME, and MI. When we get to a new town, they look for nearest animal hospitals and check reviews. We recently joined Banfield Pet Hospital’s Optimum Wellness Plan. We calculated that after the price of the shots, we paid an extra hundred-ish dollars for a years’ worth of unlimited office visits at any Banfield. We’re currently touring the Pacific Northwest and pretty far from Bexar’s vets in SC, ME, or MI. We’ve not used the plan beyond the vaccines and initial wellness check, and we hope not to.

Do you communicate with one Vet?  If so, how?

Porter: No. Bexar is generally healthy other than his well-managed diabetes.

How do you manage his insulin and monitor your dog’s BG?:

Porter: We administer Bexar’s insulin twice a day with his meals. When he was first diagnosed, we took him to the vet for blood tests weekly. This is when we started establishing relationships with vets in multiple states. We started also checking his blood glucose level before his evening meal. We tracked it almost daily for months until we saw it stabilizing. Once we landed on 15 units twice a day, he’s been good. We don’t monitor his glucose too often now. We rely on sticking to his schedule and watching him closely. If we see him drinking too much for no real reason, we may test him.

Porter: Bexar’s food is important in the management of diabetes; exercise is too. Exercise generally decreases blood glucose, so if Bexar takes a big hike we have to evaluate whether to give him a little less insulin or a little extra food in order to keep him from becoming hypoglycemic. Over time we can tell just by watching him if his sugar levels are off and make any adjustments necessary.

How do you manage their food (schedule, food they eat, quantity?) Do you have a strict schedule to adhere to?

Porter: Before he was diabetic, he ate breakfast when we did and supper when we did. The vet recommended that we feed him at 12 hour intervals and we’re pretty rigid about it. We tend to work his schedule to about 8:30 in whatever time zone we are in. That allows us to sleep in if we want and gets us home at a reasonable hour if we’ve been rambling.

Porter: If we have something planned that will keep us out later or get us up earlier, we adjust Bexar’s schedule slowly leading up to that event and then afterwards. Bexar’s diet hasn’t changed much. He’s not overweight. He used to get ice cream a few times a year, though. Now he settles happily for coconut oil inside a bone hollow.

Has your dog needed any emergency Vet visits because of diabetes? (Hypoglycemia?)

Porter: No. He has had two episodes of hypoglycemia, but emergency vet visits weren’t necessary. A little corn syrup and careful monitoring for a bit was all he needed.

How has this impacted your RV travels and excursions?

Porter: Because of Bexar’s schedule, we either bring him along or leave events to make sure we keep him on track.  Also, we find it difficult to do any overnight trips away from our rig where he would have to be boarded or visit a pet sitter.  Most people probably do not want to deal with insulin injections, and we are a little overprotective anyway. Bexar loves RV life too.

About our friends Bill and Porter aka Trinkles on Tour…

They have been enjoying the RV lifestyle for over seven years, the last couple as full-timers. Bill, originally from Michigan spent his career in radio broadcasting. Porter, originally from SC spent her career in education. They met and married in New Hampshire and have been enjoying one adventure after another ever since. Bill and Porter currently full-time in a 33’ 2013 Surveyor Fifth Wheel.

If you’d like to follow Trinkles On Tour’s journey…

Facebook: TrinklesOnTour

Instagram: #TrinklesonTour

For more of our RV Travelers Pet Series…

Krissie’s Journey – RVing with Our Diabetic Cat 

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