Insulin Therapy

Beginning insulin therapy for your pet can be a very stressful time, both for you and your pet.  Although you likely share the same trepidation as most pet owners, you can learn to do this with ease. Always be sure to follow your veterinarian's instructions.

Always keep the insulin vial in the refrigerator. You may either administer cold insulin or let the vial set out for a few minutes to bring the contents up to room temperature. Do not shake the vial. Insulin is combined with products such as protamine and zinc to delay absorption so that the insulin stays in the body longer. If the product is vigorously shaken, the insulin can become separated from the protamine and zinc and therefore become much less effective. Insulin should be removed from the refrigerator and rolled between the palms of your hand for 10-15 seconds to mix the product. 

Always ensure that you have the correct type of syringe for your insulin product. The cat product ProZinc is a 40 unit/mL concentration that requires a 40 unit/mL syringe. Dogs utilize an insulin that is 100 unit/mL concentration that requires a 100 unit/mL syringe. To draw up the insulin into the syringe, begin with the bottle on a flat surface. Safely remove the syringe cap and lay it to the side. Insert the needle completely into the center hole on the top of the insulin vial. Turn the vial/syringe upside down and aspirate more than needed. You will notice many tiny bubbles that enter the syringe. Push the plunger of the syringe to inject the excess insulin as well as tiny bubbles that has remained at the top. DO NOT RECAP THE SYRINGE AS YOU RISK ACCIDENTALLY POKING YOURSELF.

Insulin can be injected anywhere skin exists. However, the most common and easiest place is the skin over the shoulders. This skin is typically in abundance and seemingly less painful in this area. Grasp the skin where you intend to inject. Hold the syringe like a dart and not like a cigarette. With the latter there is a tendency to depress the plunger while inserting the needle in the skin. Insert the needle completely into the skin. If you are holding the syringe as a dart, regrip and depress the plunger to inject the insulin. If you feel that you wasted some insulin, DO NOT ADMINISTER MORE. Wait until the next dose. Remove the needle from the skin and place the syringe in an approved sharps container. I prefer to give the insulin injection while the pet is eating and otherwise distracted. If you notice the skin is red, administer the injection somewhere else. If the redness does not go away, let us know.