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How to Give Insulin Shots to Diabetic Dogs

If your dog has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, it can be very stressful learning how to administer insulin. Chances are, your dog is going to hate it and won't be afraid to let you know that. After going through this process with Ella, I learned some very helpful tips for administering insulin so that she was as comfortable as possible. Now, the shots don't bother her at all. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you go through the process with your dog.

Timing is Everything

When I first started giving Ella insulin shots, she began to recognize the sound of me unwrapping the needles. For weeks, she would run straight under the bed when it came time for her shot. After speaking with other diabetic dog owners, I realized that I needed to time the shots around a treat or her meals so that she had something to look forward to.

When should I give my dog insulin shots?

According to veterinarians as well as other diabetic dog owners, the best time to give insulin shots is right after a meal. This is because diabetic dogs are known for being very inconsistent eaters due to the nature of their disease. If you don't know how much your dog is going to eat at any given meal, it's impossible to give them an accurate dosage of insulin. Here are a few scenarios why it helps to inject after a meal:


1) Your dog may not eat their entire meal and therefore require less insulin

2) Your dog may want MORE food and therefore require a little more insulin

3) Your dog may regurgitate part or all of his food and therefore require less insulin


Giving shots after a meal ensures that you know exactly how much food they have eaten and therefore the right dose of insulin to give them. As always, please consult with a veterinarian when making any dosage decisions.

Storing Insulin

One lesson I learned very quickly was too NEVER freeze

insulin. Freezing insulin can destroy its properties and

administering insulin that is too cold can be extremely

painful. When storing insulin, make sure to keep it in a

place that stays within 56°F to 80°F. 


Below is our Step-by-Step Guide for administering insulin to your diabetic dog.

How to Give Your Diabetic Dog Insulin Shots

1. Make sure to always use a fresh needle and syringe. If you reuse these to try to cut down on costs, you could be putting your dog at risk of an infection.


2. Unwrap the needle and syringe but leave the cap on the needle. 


3. Remove the insulin bottle from the refridgerator and begin rolling it gently in your hands. This ensures that the hormones are well mixed and that the insulin isn't too cold when being injected.


4. Now you can go ahead and take off the needle cap. Then, use the pointer finger and thumb of one hand to hold the insulin syringe while drawing back on the plunger with the other hand. Continue to pull back, filling the plunger with air, until you reach the correct marker for the amount of insulin your dog will need.


5. Hold the bottle of insulin upside-down in your

non-dominant hand. Insert the needle into the

bottle through the middle of the rubber cap and

depress the plunger, forcing the air into the bottle.

This will prevent the formation of a vacuum when

you fill the syringe with insulin.


6. Next, still holding the bottle upside-down, insert

as much of the needle as you can into the bottle,

keeping the needle tip covered by insulin. Pull back on the plunger until you have the correct amount of insulin in the syringe. This will very depending on your dog, so be sure to consult your veterinarian before deciding on the correct dosage for your dog.


7. If you notice an air bubble inside the syringe, draw a little extra insulin into the tube. Then, Point the needle towards the ceiling and flick the tube until the air bubbles move to the top. Finally, push the plunger to force the excees air out.


8. Next, find the correct place on your dog to administer insulin. Insert the needle parallel to the skin. Make sure that the needle doesn't penetrate the skin all the way through the other side.


9. Draw back on the plunger. If it fills with air or blood, remove the needle and syringe and discard and prep a new needle. Then, reinsert the needle into your dog. If you do not get air or blood, depress the plunger to give your dog his insulin injection.


10. Sometimes your dog will react negatively, especially at the beginning. If your dog runs away and you are unable to tell whether they received the full dose, do not try to give more insulin. At the next application time, you can make up for the lower previous dosage as needed.


11. When you are finished, throw the needle away. It is recommended that you only use each needle once. In an emergency if you have run out of needles, you can resuse a needle one time, though that is not recommended. Never use a needle more than two times. This is because needles get dull very quickly and can be very uncomfortable if used multiple times.

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