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Disclaimer This information was developed through the experiences of many owners of diabetic pets, who have begun to test Blood Glucose at home with meters designed for human diabetics. Managing Diabetes is a long term commitment. A veterinarian who is knowledgeable about the disease and committed to ensuring the best quality of life for your pet is ideal. While many veterinarians have not yet had experience with clients who do home BG testing, most of those that do have come to appreciate its value. It is very important to find a veterinarian that will work with you on interpreting the results of your BG testing, finding the right insulin and dose for your pet, and who will be familiar with the case history when your pet needs medical attention. While not every diabetic pet needs to have BGs tested at home, it is a valuable tool.
This web site evolved from our personal experiences in testing Blood Glucose in our cat, Harry, with the Elite XL, using the Ear Prick method. Our methods may or may not work for you and your pet. Be flexible and try other approaches. We have expanded the site to include other meters and the lip prick technique for dogs, but the most complete descriptions are found in the section about doing an Ear Prick on a Cat and using the Elite XL, please read that section and excuse the bias when it appears elsewhere.
Glossary of Diabetic Terminology Abbreviations
Monitoring your cat or dog's blood glucose level at home with a glucometer like human diabetics use can help you to manage their diabetes more wisely.
Many factors affect insulin activity. The primary task
is to balance the amount and type of food given with the characteristic
absorption and metabolism of the insulin administered
to your individual cat. A cat or dog that eats more than
usual, will have a higher BG, one that eats less or vomits will
have a lower BG and may need less insulin than usual to prevent
hypoglycemia. Stress and infection tend to raise BGs, exercise
tends to lower them. Medications can affect either way--always
ask your veterinarian to check how any new medication might affect
BG levels. With so many things affecting BG levels, your
diabetic pet may have different responses to the same dose of
insulin on different days.
The measurement of glucose level in cat (or dog) blood is really no different from its measurement in human blood. The experience of many pet owners indicates that the use of instruments designed for people is appropriate, though no large scale research studies have been done to prove it. The skill of the tester improves with practice. The newer models of glucometers are designed for use by and extensively tested with young diabetics who monitor their own BG levels at home. They are simple to use and provide consistent and reliable readings, as long as a sufficient sample fills a fresh, appropriately-coded, test strip and fresh control solutions are routinely used to validate meter results. The newer models of glucometers provide plasma/serum glucose results, the same standard as hospital laboratory equipment. Because every lab must set up its own "normal" reference ranges, results on the same blood sample at 2 different labs will be different, though neither is wrong. You shouldn't expect your glucometer which measures capillary blood to exactly match the reading the vet gets with a venous blood sample on a lab instrument, though they can come pretty close. You will get to know what the numbers mean as far as how your cat or dog feels and acts, to know what numbers are too high or too low, and what range is normal for your pet.
The primary considerations are small sample size, ease of meter use, and ease of obtaining a reliable sample. Pets will move when you try to test them. If a meter is fussy about the angle that you have to hold it to get an accurate sample or prone to getting blood in places it isn't supposed to go (such as the Dex), that may outweigh all the other advantages.
Required sample sizes are measured in microliters.
How big a blood drop is needed for your meter?
From May to September 1999, the Bayer Elite (XL) and LifeScan FastTake meters were most often recommended to owners of newly diagnosed diabetic pets on the Feline Diabetes Message Board and Muffin mailing list. While essentially similar, there are some differences between the newer Bayer Elite XL and the older Elite model which doesn't have a button. The Bayer Dex model has the advanced features of the Elite XL, plus more. The LifeScan FastTake is also very popular with diabetic pet owners.
All meter manufacturers have Customer Service Representatives available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day who are happy to answer your questions. Phone numbers are included in the "Detailed Comparisons of Some Meters Used with Pets" table. Meters frequently come with rebate offers of US$20 or more and often an additional trade-in of US$20 or more if you send in another manufacturer's meter, working or not. Customer Service can tell you of current offers and supply the rebate form, if it was not provided by your pharmacy or included with your meter.
Upon request, Bayer will send you a free video(s) on how to use your their Glucometer(s). Other manufacturers offer free videos too. Watch the videos for the meters that you are interested in to learn more about their features and procedures before you buy. Watch again as you prepare to test yourself and your pet for the first time.
Detailed Comparisons of Some Meters used with Pets
Blood Glucose Units: mg/dL (U.S.) or mmol/L (Canada/Europe)
Try Out Some Steps Before you Buy a Meter
First, Get to Know Your New Meter
The supplies you will need depend on whether you are testing a cat or a dog and which approach you choose, as well as on your own preferences. At a minimum, you will need a Blood Glucose meter, the test strips (or cartridge of sensors) that the meter requires, and a lancet to get the blood drop. A tissue is handy for all--folded behind the cat's ear to protect your finger while you prick, and to apply pressure after the sample is obtained. For a dog, use it to dry the saliva from the test area before the prick. Vaseline applied very thinly to the furry side of a cat's ear can help the blood drop bead up instead of spreading into the fur. Some cats also think a lick of Vaseline is a treat. A small reward after the BG test helps your pet accept a necessary intrusion. A hot damp washcloth in a plastic bag will warm an ear or paw without wetting it and diluting your blood sample. Some people like to position a flexible-arm desk lamp close to the cat's ear to warm it less intrusively from the bulb's heat.
Most meters come with some sort of lancet device (though it may not be an adjustable one). Try it on yourself, and also try pricking yourself with lancet alone. Try the different depth settings on the lancet device to see what they feel like to you. A shallow setting and a fine or ultra fine lancet will be plenty for cat's ear or a dog's lip. A paw pad or a dog's leg callous will require a deeper lancet setting and possibly a lancet that is not labeled "fine" or "thin". Some FastTake meter users have found a transfer pipette helpful in getting the blood drop onto the test strip.
Urine Test Strips - Check for Ketones
Where to Buy Supplies at Good Prices
Feline Blood Glucose Curves
Guidelines to BG InterpretationReview with your Vet, tailor for your pet
When your Pet Won't Eat--Anorexia
Ketones & BG levels
Use Computer to Plot Your BG Data
Helpful Information on Other Sites
Web Sites Featuring Feline Diabetes
Web Sites Featuring Canine Diabetes
Web Sites Featuring Health Information
General Health/Disease Sites
With sincere thanks to the sponsors of and contributors to the Felinediabetes.com, Petdiabetes.org, and Sugarcats.com websites and to the many who have generously shared their knowledge and experiences on the Feline Diabetes Message Board and the Muffin Mailing List. We also thank the manufacturers that provided information for these pages, but please note that this site is not sponsored by or affiliated with Bayer, LifeScan, Abbott Medisense, Roche, or any other manufacturer of meters or diabetic testing supplies. The mention of their products does not imply an endorsement by these manufacturers for use of these products for animal testing.
Bayer asked that we include the following disclaimer:
"The Bayer diabetes testing products were developed for human use. We have not conducted studies in animals and we do not make any claims regarding the use of our products for animal testing. While we understand they can be used to improve and prolong animal life, such use is beyond their intended use".
Visitors since 03/18/2001