Monitoring Diabetes

Cat and Stethoscope

Changes in insulin requirements

Even after a long period of stability, your dog or cat's insulin requirements may change as a result of:

Weight loss or gain

Weight loss or gain

Presence of other diseases

Presence of other diseases


(a female sex hormone)
in unspayed females

Other medications

Other medications

Change in exercise regimen

Change in exercise regimen

This is why it's important to continually monitor your pet's progress and consult your veterinarian if there are sudden changes or if anything unusual happens.

Monitoring your dog's or cat's glucose level

Monitoring your pet's glucose level is an important part of the overall therapy for diabetes and can be done in 2 ways:

  1. Checking your pet's urine for the presence of glucose and ketones  (a chemical produced by the body when it burns fat for energy). This is not as accurate as measuring glucose in the blood, but can be done at home easily.
  2. Measuring glucose level in your pet's blood. This is the most accurate method and is done either by your veterinarian in the clinic or at home with a portable glucometer and blood test strips.

If your pet has significant weight gain or loss, talk to your veterinarian about how this may affect diabetes treatment.

Monitoring glucose and ketones in your pet's urine

Immediately following diagnosis, your veterinarian may ask you to check your pet's urine glucose, 1 to 3 times a day:

  1. Early in the morning, just prior to the time of the Vetsulin injection and first meal.
  2. Late in the afternoon, before the second meal.
  3. Late in the evening.
Checking Urine Glucose for Dogs
  1. Early in the morning just before your cat's Vetsulin injection.
  2. Late in the afternoon just before the second injection.
  3. Late in the evening.

Checking Urine Glucose for Cats

As your pet's management progresses, less frequent testing will be needed. Regular examinations remain important though, because your pet's insulin needs can change.

What you need

  1. Clean containers for collecting urine.
  2. Urine dipsticks from your veterinarian.
  3. A place to record results.

Collecting urine

  1. For dogs: take your dog out for a walk on a leash. Keep your dog on a leash so that it will be within reach when it urinates. For cats: place your cat in its litter box.*
  2. Have a clean, dry container (dish, bowl, or small pan) ready to catch urine when your dog urinates.
  3. When your dog begins to urinate, slowly slide the container under the urine stream.

*Urine collection can be facilitated by using special cat litter, such as hydrophobic sand. Kit4Cat is one brand that can be top coated to your regular litter.

Using urine dipsticks

Using Urine Dipsticks 1

Follow the instructions for the dipsticks you're using, particularly for the time to read the results.

Using Urine Dipsticks 2

Place the dipstick in the container with the urine and soak the test pads.

Using Urine Dipsticks 3

Remove the dipstick and tap dry.

Using Urine Dipsticks 4

Read the result after the time specified on the stick bottle (usually 1 minute).

Using Urine Dipsticks 5

Hold the stick against the chart on the dipstick container to compare colors.

Using Urine Dipsticks 6

Record the results including time of collection and time of insulin injections given on that day.

Urine Dipstick and Color Chart

Management monitoring sheet

Download a copy of the management monitoring sheet that you can use to record your dog's or cat's results.

Monitoring blood glucose at home

A stable diabetic dog or cat should have blood glucose in the following ranges for most of a 24-hour period:

  • Dogs: about 100–250 mg/dL
  • Cats: about 120-350 mg/dL for most of the day

Your veterinarian may ask if you are prepared to monitor blood glucose levels at home. This can be done in 2 ways and your veterinarian will discuss the best option with you.

  1. Blood test strips similar to those used for testing urine can be used.
  2. A handheld glucometer can be used. Although not essential, handheld glucometers are easy to use and may be worth the investment. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on what model best suits your and your pet's needs.

Collecting and testing a blood sample

A glucometer and glucose test strip are needed for this procedure. Blood can be collected easily from the earflap (pinna) of your cat or dog.

Collecting Blood Samples 1

Make sure that your dog or cat's ear is warm. If not, hold it between your hands for about 1 minute. Warming the earflap makes collecting a drop of blood easier.

Collecting Blood Samples 2

Quickly prick a clean, hairless part of the ear with a sterile hypodermic needle or lancet.

Collecting Blood Samples 3

A small drop of blood will appear. Collect the drop onto the glucose test strip.

Collecting Blood Samples 4

Gently but firmly press some clean cotton or gauze onto your pet's ear until it stops bleeding.

Collecting Blood Samples 5

Read the test strip or insert the sample into the glucometer as instructed. Compare the reading to the normal level in dogs or cats.

Collecting Blood Samples 6

Keep a record of the readings to share with your veterinarian.

Blood Glucose Test Kit

Blood glucose test strips

Blood glucose strips are used to measure blood glucose concentration. A drop of blood is placed on the pad at the end of the strip. After the specified amount of time, the pad is wiped and the color is checked against the chart on the container. Read the instructions provided before use.

Using a glucometer

A drop of blood is placed on one of the provided strips; the strip is then inserted into the glucometer, and the blood glucose concentration is shown. Read the instructions provided before use.

Cat Head Monitor

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