How Often Should I Check a Pets Glucose Curve? | Ask Dr. Joi

By Dr . Joi Sutton|2017-12-14T08:51:27-05:00Updated: December 14th, 2017|Pet Care, Pet Diabetes, Pet Newsletter|8 Comments
  • Dog with owner checking glucose curves

Questions from the diabetic pet owner are the fuel I use to keep myself educated on all things related to pet diabetes. I’ve had some incredible questions asked of me over the years, and quite a few that have made me do some research so I could understand it and then make it easy to understand for all of the diabetic pet owners that I encounter. Maybe this one can help you! Todays question is about checking your pets glucose curve and monitoring your pets diabetes.

Dr. Sutton, I am a little nervous about monitoring my furbaby’s diabetes. We just found out this past September that he is diabetic. We have him on insulin and he seems to be doing well at the level we are providing. I know treatment and monitoring thus far at my vet has been somewhat expensive and the pet starter kit seems very reasonable. How often do I need to check his levels? I am trying to determine if I should purchase more strips right away. Can the strips be purchased in retail stores or only by internet in case I choose to wait?

How often to check a curve depends on how easy or difficult it is to regulate your pet. We typically run curves about once a week until we get a pet regulated. Clearly we check curves more often when a pet is first diagnosed than once we think we have the right insulin dose. Thereafter, you’ll want to run a curve at least every 3 or 4 months, and for sure a week after anytime you change an insulin dose. Some folks have difficult-to-regulate pets or are doing tight diabetes control and check their pet’s insulin before each injection of insulin. Those folks go through strips like gangbusters.

I doubt you can get strips for a pet glucose meter at a retail store. Even though you can’t run over to the local pharmacy for pet strips, I do advise sticking to a pet blood glucose monitor rather than using a human meter. Yes, there are lots of folks who use human meters on their pets. I hear this often. Nonetheless, human glucose meters tend to underestimate the pet’s blood glucose. The amount of blood in the red blood cells versus the plasma differs from species to species. If you are going through the effort of checking blood glucose, why not use a pet meter to get the most accurate results you can!

I’m glad you are getting a meter. You don’t just save money during curves, you have the ability to know what your pet’s blood glucose is instantly. If you know your pet’s blood glucose in real time you can adjust insulin dosages. You can identify low blood glucose if your pet is acting unusual. A home glucose meter gives you the power to be in control of the diabetes. And blood glucose checks at home are more accurate as there is no stress hyperglycemia on your couch! Many pets get anxious at the vet clinic, anxious enough to affect the blood glucose. This can then result in your vet thinking your pet needs more insulin than the pet really needs.

I’ve written articles in the past on how to check a blood glucose from your pet. A few pointers to get you started can make it much easier for you and your pet.

Click here for these tips:

Running a Blood Glucose Curve.

Making Dollars and Sense of Glucose Curves

Blood Glucose Curves vs. Spot Checks

Have a question or comment? Then post below! I always enjoy hearing from my readers!

NOTE: Consult your veterinarian first to make sure my recommendations fit your pets 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


  1. Paola Lehman October 20, 2022 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    My female cat has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, I already start with insulin and bought a glucometer for cats. My question is: should I check her glucose levels every day? Or how often? How many times during the day?
    Thanks in advance for your response.

    • Dr . Joi Sutton October 23, 2022 at 8:32 am - Reply

      Good job getting a glucose meter! My goal when I first diagnose a kitty with diabetes is to try to get the cat into remission. Having a blood glucose meter is key. Secondly, cats are true carnivores and if you don’t cut out the kibble (dry food) it is very hard to get your cat into remission. Dogs do alright with complex carbs, but our feline diabetic friends do best on very low carb diets. There are a few dry diabetic foods, but they are still way higher in carbohydrates than most canned foods. You can even find a “cat food composition chart” on the internet to help you find the right food. My go to is Purina DM canned. (DM stands for diabetes mellitus.) Now to your question! When we start insulin or change the dose we typically do a blood glucose curve in 5 to 7 days as the human in the family has time to check the blood glucose. (The pet can do it for himself or herself, so it usually goes with your work schedule.) The first few days you might do a spot check if anything seems awry, but in 5 days the pet should have equilibrated, and a curve will be meaningful. We run curves to see just how low the blood glucose gets (called the nadir) and how long a particular insulin lasts in a particular patient as it can vary from pet to pet. I have an article about how to run a blood glucose curve on this website. 🙂

  2. Patricia Armistead June 12, 2020 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Where is your practice in south Florida my son has dogs in southWest ranches in browsed county. I’m visiting in July would love to get an appointment
    With you for my Bella.

    • Dr . Joi Sutton June 14, 2020 at 10:50 am - Reply

      My clinic is in Tequesta. It’s in the north end of Palm Beach County. 🙂

  3. Pat Armistead June 12, 2020 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    As a dog gets older is it possible
    That they might need less insulin? I am seeing. Difference in Bella’s curve. It’s more normal now. She is on human insulin because the visolin dog insulin did not work on her. Last visit to vets her curve was waved and numbers high and the vet didn’t want increase her insulin because she said it was too high already. N100 18 U q 12 hours. She maintains good wgt and is on W/D Perscription diet. Pre am meal today she was 355 blood suger.

    • Dr . Joi Sutton June 14, 2020 at 10:50 am - Reply

      When we evaluate how well we’ve regulated a pet we look at the pet in regards of excessive thirst and hunger and if the pet is maintaining body weight. And we also look at the numbers. I like a glucose curve every 3 months even if you think your pet is doing well. Insulin needs can go up or down over time, particularly if diet or exercise patterns change.

  4. Robin Kidd April 15, 2020 at 3:03 pm - Reply

    How often check dogs sugar level

    • Dr . Joi Sutton April 26, 2020 at 10:06 am - Reply

      That depends on how easy or difficult it is to regulate your pet. Some pets are like clockwork. Others are more tricky. Regardless, running a blood glucose curve at least every 2 or 3 months is important. Home testing is critical to regulate your diabetic. For cats I strongly recommend very frequent testing, particularly earl6 on as we might be able to get them into remission with tight regulation and low carb diets.

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