What is Insulin?
Insulin is an anabolic hormone which is produced in the pancreas and involved in the metabolism of sugars in the body. When your pet eats something, much of the digested food is broken down into glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy. The pancreas then responds to the increased blood sugar levels by secreting insulin into the blood stream.
Like in humans, most cells in your pet’s body contain insulin receptors which help bind the insulin to the cell. Once insulin is attached to the cell, other receptor sites are activated which allows the glucose to enter the cell. This works in a similar way to a lock a key, insulin being the key to unlock the door and allow glucose to enter the cells. Glucose is then either used for immediate energy or converted into glycogen which can be stored for later use.
Insulin is an essential hormone and without it your pet is unable to convert the food it eats into usable energy. When insulin is not produced sufficiently, or not used correctly in the body, blood sugar levels become too high and hyperglycemia or diabetes occurs. Many pets diagnosed with diabetes require insulin shots to manage their glucose levels.
Giving your diabetic pet insulin can be a tricky task and doesn’t come without risks. Too much insulin can result in a dangerous condition known as hypoglycemia and too little insulin can result in states of hyperglycemia. Diabetic pets therefore need close home monitoring and regular veterinary check ups.