Just a Pinch: Giving Insulin to Pets
When a pet is diagnosed with diabetes, it can be overwhelming. It is emotional enough to learn that your sweet baby has a serious disease, but then discovering that you are going to be responsible for administering insulin injections can be downright terrifying.
Thankfully, giving insulin to pets is something almost all of our pet owners are able to learn. Bayside Animal Hospital is here to help you navigate this important task.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that makes it possible for the body to utilize the glucose found in food. If the pancreas is not producing enough insulin, or if the body’s cells need more insulin than normal (insulin resistance), a pet becomes diabetic.
Diabetes causes circulating levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood to be too high and can result in a very sick animal. Thankfully, we are fairly easily able to boost a pet’s insulin supply with injections.
There is no “one-size fits all” dose of insulin, and there are many types of insulin that may affect different patients very differently. When starting a pet on insulin, we try to choose the best product for the individual and start at a conservative dose, adjusting frequently in order to best manage the disease.
Insulin does need to be administered by injection (twice daily for most pets), but it is typically a very small amount administered with a tiny needle. Most of our pet patients hardly notice their injections, and almost everyone is capable of administering this life-saving injection when needed.
Step by Steps for Giving Insulin to Pets
It’s time to give your first injection! Fear not, you have this covered. Of course we will demonstrate in person if your pet is prescribed insulin. Never be afraid to ask if you are unsure.
Hopefully, once you get home from your visit, you will feel prepared. If you are not quite there, take some time to review or watch a few videos about administering insulin to pets.
- Feed your pet first. Your pet’s blood sugar can dip too low if a normal meal is not consumed.
- Gently mix the insulin by rolling it back and forth in your palm.
- Hold the bottle vertically and introduce the needle into the stopper.
- Draw up the appropriate amount of insulin, being sure to “flick” and bubbles out of the syringe.
- Place your pet in a well-lit area where you can work, utilizing help or a nice treat for distraction.
- Tent the skin, rotating areas of injection each treatment.
- Insert the needle and draw back, redirecting the needle if you see blood.
- Push the plunger.
Pat yourself on the back, you are done!
Tips and Tricks
Giving insulin to pets takes some practice. Don’t be afraid to ask us if you need help. You’ll learn quickly. In the meantime:
- Learn the signs of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and keep some Karo corn syrup on hand in case of emergency.
- Make yourself familiar with an emergency facility in case you need help outside of our normal hours.
- Always be sure that you are using the correct insulin syringes (U-100 v.s. U-40) for the type of insulin your pet is taking.
- Never use insulin donated to you by someone else or allow the pharmacy to substitute insulin without our guidance- not all insulin is the same.
- If you can’t remember if you gave a dose or aren’t sure that your injection went in your pet, it is best to skip that dose of insulin entirely.
- Always keep your insulin at the temperature recommended and use sterile technique when handling it.
- Follow instructions for return blood glucose checks to be sure that your pet is on the correct dose.
- Never adjust your pet’s insulin dose without speaking to us first.
While insulin injections can be intimidating at first, you and your furry patient are going to be pros in no time. Don’t forget, the staff at Bayside Animal Hospital are always here for you as well if you need some support.
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