Your pet has been diagnosed with diabetes. Below are some points of advice, but this is a complex disease and if you have any concern DO NOT hesitate to contact the surgery. One of the key factors to remember with diabetes is consistency – avoid changes in diet, feeding times, insulin times and exercise length.


It is best to feed you animal only twice a day. If your pet is on once daily insulin, you may be advised to split the meals into two thirds and one third. If your pet has twice daily insulin, meals should be split 50/50. Sometimes with cats we do feed ad-lib.

Storing insulin

  • Keep in the fridge.
  • Store upright.
  • Do not freeze.
  • Must be discarded after 28 days.

Using insulin

  • Do not shake, turn the bottle up and down a couple of times prior to drawing up insulin.
  • Draw insulin up slowly.
  • Injecting:
    • Tent the skin upwards to form a triangle.
    • Insert the needle into the bottom of the triangle, draw back.
    • If you see blood reposition the needle.
    • If there is no blood then inject.

When to give half the insulin dose

  • If your animal vomits or does not eat their food in the morning it is best to give half the normal insulin dose.
  • However, these can be signs of problems with diabetes, so if you are worried at all, or the animal vomits several times, contact the surgery immediately.
  • If your pet subsequently eats the rest of their food and looks well, you may then give the rest of the insulin.

Signs of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar)

  • If your pet’s blood sugar becomes too low they may be weak, lethargic and hungry. Eventually hypoglycaemia leads to seizures/collapse and even coma.
  • If your pet shows any of these signs you can rub some glucose powder/liquid/ honey/jam on their gums. If seizuring, be careful when messing around your pet’s mouth, as they can bite you involuntarily.
  • CONTACT THE SURGERY IMMEDIATELY as your pet may need glucose straight into the bloodstream (intravenously).

Signs of ketosis (high blood sugar)

  • Ketosis is usually seen in undiagnosed diabetics.
  • However, it can be seen if your pet has another problem at the same time as diabetes, eg infections, inadequate insulin dose.
  • Signs – lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, breath smells sweet/like pear drops.
  • If you notice any of these signs CONTACT THE SURGERY IMMEDIATELY as your pet may need intravenous fluids and insulin, with close monitoring of blood sugar.

Monitoring diabetes

  • Unfortunately it can take a while to stabilise some diabetic animals.
  • The best way to monitor how you pet is responding to their insulin is to perform a glucose curve, where we monitor blood glucose levels over 12-24 hours in the hospital. This allows us to see how your pet’s blood glucose is responding to the insulin they receive. This is the best way to check insulin dosage, but is expensive.
  • Another method of stabilisation is to take a blood sample when the insulin is most active and the glucose is lowest. This is six to eight hours after insulin injection. The difficulty with taking just one sample is we do not know how the body responds to the insulin at other times. This means we may alter the dose based on this, but require a blood glucose curve, as above) to fine tune the dose.
  • Another blood test we can perform is the fructosamine. These give us an idea of how the blood glucose has been on average over three to four weeks. Again we may use this method to change dosages, but use a blood glucose curve to fine tune dosage.
  • When an animal’s blood glucose levels are too high, extra glucose is lost in the urine. It is therefore important that you bring a urine sample with you every time you come to see us. Diabetics are very prone to urine infections, so it allows us to check for these too.