Diabetic Dog Insulin ― Importance and Administration

Tess Thompson

A simple sugar, glucose, is what the body needs the most to supply energy to the various body cells. This is provided through a complex process known as metabolism. One of the most important functions that go on in the body is to transfer the body’s main fuel, glucose, from the blood stream to the cells. For transferring glucose to different cells, the pancreas in the body secretes insulin that acts in three ways.

  1. It prevents the liver from producing excess amounts of glucose.
  2. It helps the body in storing sugar for use in the future.
  3. It creates pathways to deliver glucose to the cells so that they get the energy they need to grow.

A defect in the pancreas due to inflammation, infection, injury or otherwise can hamper this process and the resultant condition that leads to high levels of blood sugar is known as diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes in cats, dogs and other animals. Of the two types of diabetes mellitus, insulin dependent diabetes is more common in dogs.

Polydipsia (excessive thirst) and polyuria (excessive urination of pale diluted urine) are characteristic and most indicative of all of all the symptoms of diabetes in cats and dogs. Failure to treat diabetes may lead to fatigue, loss of appetite, frequent bacterial and fungal infection, bladder problems and canine blindness.

Some breeds and dogs between seven and nine years old are more prone to develop diabetes that may require administration of exogenous insulin. Administration of insulin is mostly dependent on individual needs of each animal and type of insulin used. Insulin-glucose-response curves prepared after frequent blood tests help in determining the type, dosage and timings of administration of insulin. Depending upon the progress of the disease, your dog’s needs for insulin may also change over time. Every change in the type of insulin and the dosage requires preparing these response charts all over again.

Pancreas of cattle and pigs has been the major sources of insulin that is injected into dogs. Gradually, animal insulin is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain and there is now an increased dependence on genetically engineered insulin.

Learning how to handle insulin and manner in which to inject it in your pet is easy. Your veterinarian is the best person to explain the exact method for administration and injection. Insulin needs to be stored at a particular temperature and should not be shaken vigorously. These instructions need to be followed strictly to derive the desired results. The expiration date that appears on the bottle is extremely important since the insulin may become ineffective after the mentioned date. Whatever the size of the syringe, the markings on the syringe should be used to draw the exact dosage of insulin from the bottle. Insulin injections are given subcutaneously and the process requires pinching the skin of the dog along the neck or back. The needle should be placed under the skin along the long axis of the fold.

Exogenous insulin is not as good as the one produced naturally by the dog’s own pancreas. Once a dog develops diabetes, total remission is difficult. The goal of treatment is to bring down the blood sugar levels so that the dog is able to eat, drink and eliminate fluids in normal amounts.


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