How Insulin Affects Your Pet

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2017-10-30T12:47:04-04:00Updated: October 13th, 2011|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Newsletter|0 Comments

Let’s talk about insulin. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps us metabolize food. It is used to transport sugar (glucose) into cells. We all need insulin to utilize energy from the foods we eat. Without insulin we would effectively starve, no matter how much we eat. There are many types of insulin on the market. Your veterinarian will be the one to choose which insulin is best suited for your pet, but there are some generalities that apply to all pet insulin.

When preparing to inject your pet, you should roll the insulin bottle before pulling up the dose in the syringe. Don’t shake the bottle. Shaking could inactivate the insulin molecules. Just roll it around between your hands for a few seconds to suspend the molecules evenly.

Some insulin can be left at room temperature, but frankly, for our veterinary patients I do not recommend this. The volume we typically give to a pet is so small (and the needles so tiny) that pets rarely seem to notice the injections and don’t seem to mind if it is cold from the fridge. Refrigeration lets us make the most of the product’s shelf life, and it inhibits bacterial growth. Purchasing pet insulin annually can add up, so be smart and keep it in the fridge. Also, if you ever notice that the insulin looks cloudy or discolored compared to how it originally was, replace it! I also recommend keeping your old pet insulin until you have received your new supply. Take a minute to check the labels to ensure that you received the correct product – there are several variations of pet insulin. Unfortunately, the packaging can look very similar. You don’t want to inject your pet with the wrong insulin. Always compare your new prescription to the prior bottle.

If you travel with your pet, there are some nifty options available to keep your insulin cold. Of course, you can use a cooler and ice packs, but there are some surprisingly economical options for compact refrigeration. ADW carries small wallets that keep pet insulin cold for 2 days and small plug-in or battery-powered refrigerators which are just large enough for your vials of pet insulin. Really, with the options available there should be no fears about taking your diabetic pet away from home because of a scheduled injection.

NOTE: Consult your doctor first to make sure my recommendations fit your special health needs.

About the Author: Dr . Joi Sutton

Dr. Joi Sutton is a 1993 graduate from Oregon State University. She has practiced both in emergency medicine and general practice. Dr. Sutton has done extensive international volunteer work though Veterinary Ventures, a nonprofit organization that takes teams of veterinarians to undeveloped countries for humane medical care. She also runs a small animal practice in South Florida. Connect with Dr. Joi on LinkedIn

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