Insulin for the Treatment of Diabetes in Dogs

Bring Fido to the vet to get a proper diagnosis if he's exhibiting symptoms of diabetes.
Mhuett/iStock/Getty Images

When your dog's pancreas doesn't produce enough of a vital hormone called insulin, his body can't regulate his blood sugar levels and he will develop a condition known as diabetes. Your vet can properly diagnose canine diabetes with blood and urine tests. To treat Fido's diabetes, your vet likely will recommend that you give your pup daily injections of insulin to treat his condition.

The Importance of Insulin

The hormone insulin, which is produced in your pup's pancreas, helps the cells in your dog's body properly absorb the glucose from the food he eats. The cells need glucose to produce the energy his body needs to support his metabolism and other bodily functions. Without it, his cells won't take in the glucose and it will remain in his bloodstream, where it can build up to dangerously high levels, which can lead to further health issues for your pup. Prescription biosynthetically produced insulin injections can help to replace or supplement the insulin that Fido's body isn't producing or absorbing correctly due to diabetes.

Prescription Insulin for Pups

While there's only one type of insulin approved for use in dogs by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a porcine insulin zinc suspension, your vet also may prescribe human insulin for your pooch in some cases. She will provide you with the proper size of syringes to use with the medication. It's important that you use the correct syringe with the insulin, because different types of insulin require different sizes of syringes. Your vet will prescribe the correct dosage of insulin for your particular dog and establish a dosing schedule for him. Always follow your vet's directions to prevent your pup's blood glucose level from spiking or plummeting to dangerous levels.

Administering Injections to Your Pooch

Prior to giving your pup an injection of insulin, feed him to prevent his blood glucose level from dipping too low. After he eats his entire portion of food, wait around 20 minutes before giving Fido his shot of insulin. Your vet will show you how to inject the correct dose of insulin into the scruff area of your pup's neck, according to the VCA Animal Hospitals website. If Fido doesn't eat his meal, you'll need to skip his dose or if he eats half of his food, you'll need to adjust his dose by half recommends the Vetsulin website. Normally, your pup's insulin shot should last around 12 hours, meaning that he'll usually need two meals and two shots per day.

Monitoring Glucose and Making Adjustments to Insulin

You'll need to regularly check your diabetic pup's blood and urine glucose levels to determine whether or not his prescription insulin is working properly. Your vet will show you how to do this using a lancet and test strips. Keep a journal of the readings you get and your pup's behavior to determine if he's still having issues with his blood glucose levels. From these readings, your vet can make adjustments to the amount and type of insulin Fido is getting. Remember to refrigerate your pup's insulin so that it remains effective. Use a new syringe and needle for each injection and dispose of them in a proper container with your vet.