Managing Pet Diabetes

Last updated on January 16, 2019

So the vet just diagnosed your pet with diabetes mellitus, which means that your pet isn’t producing enough insulin which is required for the body to efficiently use sugars, fats, and proteins. Diabetes mellitus is most often diagnosed in older dogs, primarily female dogs and older cats, most often male cats. Younger animals can also be afflicted.

Can diabetes in animals be managed? For most animals, diabetes is managed long term by the injection of insulin once or twice a day by the owner or caretaker. While some diabetic cats can be treated with oral medications instead of injections, oral medications are rarely effective in dogs. According to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, there are three general types of insulin used in dogs and cats:

  • short- acting insulin (regular or crystalline) is used in sick diabetic animals until they are eating again
  • NPH and Lente are intermediate- acting insulins
  • Ultralente and PZI are long- acting insulins

Once the type of insulin is decided, the vet will show the caretaker how to give the pet his/her injection.  Most likely, the vet will review how to handle the insulin itself, paying attention to temperature, expiration date, etc.  The vet will demonstrate how to use a syringe, how to draw up the insulin in the correct amount as well as how to properly administer the injection.

After the injection is given, what should be done with the used needle and syringe? While this part of the conversation between the vet and the caretaker can be very brief or not even discussed, it’s important that the needle and syringe – often referred to as the “sharps” – be placed into a compliant sharps container.  The sharps container is designed to hold used sharps in a safe manner until the container is full and ready to be disposed of. Accidental needlesticks occur frequently in the home because needles are left in common areas, such as the trash, countertops, or even the floor, and people – and their pets – inadvertently get stuck.

Once the sharps container is full, contact the vet to determine if he/she can take them or can offer a more viable solution.  Several states have passed legislation making it illegal to throw sharps into household trash so be sure to work with the vet to determine the safest method of disposal that meets all state requirements.

Source: Pet Health Topics. (n.d.)