Taking care of a pet may involve a great deal of hard work. This applies even more to cats and dogs with recurring health issues or medical conditions, such as diabetes. They have to watch what their animal pal eats. They have to regularly subject the poor critter to treatments that they might not exactly welcome. On top of all that, they have to maintain and adhere to a rigorous schedule.
Watching over a diabetic pet can also be pretty unforgiving. One mistake can have a negative effect on their well-being. One mistake made several times, under the belief that it is not a mistake, can put them in extreme peril.
Yes, it is hard work, but pet owners must put in that hard work no matter what. They must do everything they can to ensure that their companions can live their best lives and love to their fullest abilities. If you have a diabetic pet, you need to learn exactly what to do and not do. Here are five common mistakes to avoid when giving insulin to your pet.
1. Using the Wrong Type of Insulin
Treating a diabetic pet might seem obvious: just use insulin! That is generally correct, but those with a layman’s knowledge of diabetes do not have the complete picture. There are a few types of insulin out there, and which one your pet needs is definitely something you should discuss with your veterinarian.
We can at least tell you here that we can at least describe these types of insulin. Protamine Zinc Insulin (PZI) is a long-acting one, meaning it is suitable for animals that can quickly metabolize the hormone. Cats usually get prescribed PZI — specifically, they require 1-2 units of insulin (U) every twelve hours.
Certain dogs will also need it, but canines, in general, are more likely to require short-acting insulin such as Neutral Protamine Hagedorn (NPH). Every twelve hours, you must inject 0.25-0.5 U for every kilogram they weigh.
2. Treatment/Dosage Errors
Most people have at least some experience in receiving shots but no experience in giving them. As a result, even people who think they know what they are doing may be susceptible to making mistakes.
As you can see from this frankly terrifying account in EE Times, knowing how to read a syringe is not always intuitive. If your veterinarian advises that you use 18ml, as in this story, measure how much there is while holding the needle side down. The amount you give has to be just right: too much or too little may result in hypoglycemia.
Additionally, as we mentioned in our blog post about syringes and needle types, insulin syringes come in two sizes: U40 and U100. Make sure that the one you choose is most suitable for measuring the number of units your cat or dog needs.
3. Monitoring Mistakes
If something goes really wrong with their treatment, your pet might show symptoms of hypoglycemia. If they fall into seizures, experience convulsions, or show similarly dramatic signs that something is wrong, you should definitely visit the vet. Thankfully, there are less dramatic symptoms that, if you spot them, can show you that you need to double-check your approach. These include disorientation, severe lack of energy, and walking weirdly. Between injections, pay close attention to how your pets move and behave.
To minimize the chance of making these mistakes, you may want to maintain a strict schedule, both with what times you feed them and what times you inject them. As you keep up a regular routine, you will pick up on everything that you need to do for both preparation and the injection itself. It really does cut down on room for error.
Lastly, mistakes will happen sometimes, especially at the beginning. The key is to identify a mistake, stay calm, correct yourself the next time, and make that a habit. For example, do not panic if you inject too little, or if some of the insulin gets on their fur instead of inside them. You can just apply the regular portion on the next try. In the meantime, keep a close eye on your pet.
4. Problems with Diets
One of the most common pieces of laymen’s knowledge about diabetes is that people who have it need to watch what they consume. The same goes for animals with the condition, except that you have to watch it for them.
Your veterinarian will be able to tell you the exact details of how you should feed your companion. We can, however, advise you to avoid handing out treats on a whim because of how they can affect the critter’s blood levels. Instead, schedule treats for a few hours after the injection, when the insulin should be working.
As for breakfast and dinner, both dogs and cats need a lot of protein and moderate amounts of fat in their diet. Dogs can have some carbs, provided that they are low glycemic, while cats should have as few as possible. On that note, cut out dry food completely from your kitten’s diet.
5. Uncomfortable Injections
Administering injections to animals can be quite tricky — they appreciate and enjoy needles even less than humans. If they are not comfortable as you inject them, they might not only bite you but also make the next attempt more difficult. Please practice common sense with your needles, such as rotating the sites of injection.
One common way to calm them down is to give them food or treats, then inject them as they are eating. Also important to keep your buddy calm is to make sure that you are calm as well. Animals can sense when their owners are nervous. Once you are in, do not rush the injection — but do not slow it down either. Either path could lead to pain. Finding the right speed may take some time, but if you stick to a routine as we advised earlier, you will find it quickly.
Your pet might behave better if they expect a reward at the end. Give them a (low to no carb) treat immediately after the injection, even if they are already eating as you administer it. While you are at it, reassure them that everything is okay and praise them for being so good. As stressful as this process might be for you, it may be even more stressful for your pet — and they trust you anyway.
Get Insulin Syringes for Your Pet Today
Giving insulin to your pet can be tough at times, especially as you start out. Thankfully, animals are resilient, especially with the right encouragement. In the beginning, just follow your veterinarian’s instructions and ask questions when you are not sure about something. Once you develop and stick to a routine, it will get easier for you and your pal.
If your pet is diabetic, we at California Veterinary Supply can help. Our online store offers insulin syringes designed to make it easy for you to do the job right. Check out our selection today and start making life better for your furry friend.