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5 step guide to insulin administration for your diabetic dog

Diabetes is one of the most common hormonal diseases in dogs. Diabetes can affect dogs as young as 18 months of age, however, most are between seven and ten years old when the diagnosis is made. If your dog has diabetes, your veterinarian may have prescribed insulin as maintenance therapy which requires daily injections. Giving injections to a pet can be daunting for an inexperienced owner, so the MedicAnimal vets have prepared a fail-safe step-by-step guide for owners to follow.

Steps to draw up insulin for your dog:

It is imperative to measure and administer the correct dose of insulin using the correct syringe. Insulin is available in concentrations of 40 and 100 units per millilitre and there are corresponding syringes to use for the measurement of the two different concentrations of insulin. Using the wrong syringe will cause you to administer the wrong dose – such an error can have dire consequences for your pet! Insulin comes in a glass vial with a rubber stopper, and must be stored in the fridge.

  1.       Prior to removing a dose of insulin from the vial, mix the contents by gently rolling the vial between the palms of your hands.
  2.       Hold the vial stopper-side-down, remove the needle guard from the insulin syringe, and insert the needle of the syringe into the vial through the rubber stopper.
  3.       Pull back on the plunger of the syringe to draw the insulin into the syringe, up to the correct number of units.
  4.       If there is any air in the syringe hold it so that the needle is pointing up, and gently tap or flick the syringe to cause the bubbles to move to the surface. Then draw back a little, before pushing the plunger down to expel all of the air.
  5.       Recheck that you have withdrawn the proper amount of insulin, as overdosing can be fatal. If you had a lot of air in the syringe initially, it may be necessary to draw up a little more insulin.
  6.       Remove the syringe from the vial and replace the needle guard.
  7.       Return the insulin to the refrigerator

Administering an insulin injection to your dog:

  1. You can practice by injecting water from an insulin syringe into an orange.

  2. Remove the needle guard from the syringe filled with the appropriate dose of insulin

  3. Pick up a fold of skin along your dog's back or shoulders (use a different site every time) and push the needle through the skin at about a 45º angle.

  4. Pull back slightly on the syringe plunger to be sure the needle is not in a blood vessel. If no blood is seen, administer the insulin by pushing the plunger with your thumb. If you see blood, pull out the syringe and start over. Withdraw the needle from the dog's skin, and replace the needle guard.

  5. Place the needle and syringe in a puncture-resistant container and follow local regulations regarding disposal.