Insulin in Dogs

Dogs with diabetes aren’t able to make enough insulin, a hormone that allows the body to store energy from food and move glucose into cells. Because this condition has serious and potentially fatal consequences, diabetic dogs are typically treated with insulin injections one or two times each day.

Diabetes develops when the dog’s body loses its ability to produce insulin on its own. Insulin therapy is used by injection under the dog’s skin and is widely used to help a diabetic dog regulate blood glucose. Although insulin is necessary for a diabetic dog, it carries with it a number of side effects. These side effects are potentially life-threatening and your veterinarian should be informed immediately.

Insulin Facts
Food is broken down by your dog’s body into separate organic compounds; glucose is one of these. Glucose, an energy source for movement, growth, and other functions need the hormone insulin to transfer from the bloodstream into individual cells. The pancreas produces insulin and, in a healthy dog, produces and releases enough insulin to match the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. However, when a dog develops diabetes mellitus, his owner must administer insulin to him through subcutaneous (underneath the skin) injections to maintain the body’s proper blood glucose/insulin balance.

Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is the most common side effect associated with insulin. It is an extremely serious medical condition that comes on suddenly, requiring immediate attention. Before taking your dog to your veterinarian, it is critical that you immediately feed her approximately 1 tbsp. of fast-acting glucose, such as corn syrup or honey, first by rubbing a small amount on your dog’s gums and then feeding her by mouth when she regains her swallowing functions. An insulin overdose, missed morning meal, or overexertion can trigger low blood sugar. Symptoms include hunger, lethargy, and sleepiness in the early stages, followed by staggering gait, then twitching, convulsions, coma, and death.

Drug Interactions
Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, propranolol, tetracycline, aspirin, epinephrine, furosemide, and digoxin can counter the effects of insulin and should be avoided. It is critical that you inform your veterinarian of all medications your dog is taking so that he can determine whether they will negatively affect your dog’s insulin therapy.

Allergy to Insulin Source
The Vetsulin insulin product is manufactured from pork and pork products and should not be given to dogs known to have a pork allergy. Signs of an allergic reaction to Vetsulin include difficulty in breathing, hives, and swelling of the lips, tongue, or face.

Insulin Resistance
Your dog’s insulin needs may change, causing blood glucose levels to remain high despite regular insulin therapy. Insulin resistance also results from adverse drug interactions and the presence of infectious agents in the body or certain pre-existing medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, liver and kidney disease, and certain forms of cancer.

Do dogs with diabetes sleep a lot?
When the blood glucose level is moderately low, the dog will be very tired and unresponsive. Within a few hours, the blood glucose level will rise and the dog will return to normal. Since many dogs sleep a lot during the day, this important sign is easily lost. … It is the first sign of impending problems.

Do dogs know that you love them?
“Yes, your dog knows how much you love him! Dogs and humans have a very special relationship, as dogs have already hijacked the path of human oxytocin that is normally reserved for our children. When you stare at your dog, both levels of your oxytocin go up, as when you bet and play with them.

Can animals sense death?
They provide comfort not just in death but also in other difficult times, whether it’s depression, job loss, or a move across the country. Dogs know when people are dying or grieving, through body language cues, smells only they can detect and other ways not yet known, experts say.