Supplies

Diabetes in dogs can be costly to treat, especially when getting your supplies of insulin and syringes directly from your veterinarian. The good news is, there are cheaper ways of doing this.

Insulin

Vets can charge in excess of £40.00 for a 10ml vial of Caninsulin insulin and £20.00 for a fortnight's worth of syringes. You can ask your vet for a repeat prescription to cover up to 6 months worth of insulin. You may be charged a small fee for the prescription.

Websites such as AnimedDirect are currently the cheapest online, selling the same 10ml vial of insulin for £17.45 and smaller 2.5ml bottles for £5.65. If you buy a few at a time (you should always have a back up bottle) you will save on postage too. Caninsulin needs to be kept below 25°C to ensure its efficacy. When you order insulin online, it will be delivered the next day, carefully packaged with a cool pack. Once received, it should be kept upright in the fridge (not in the door) ideally with a thermometer, between 2°C and 8°C (35°F and 46°F). Insulin mustn't be allowed to freeze or get too warm. Insulin should be protected from light. A bottle of Caninsulin starts to lose it's potency after 42 days so should be disposed of and a new bottle started regardless of whether it is finished or not.

When you receive a new vial of insulin and before the first use, you should shake it thoroughly until a homogeneous, uniformly milky suspension is obtained. Any bubbles or foam on the surface of the suspension formed during shaking should be allowed to disperse before drawing any of the insulin into a syringe then before each subsequent use, the insulin should be gently mixed. You can do this by either rolling the vial between your hands or on a towel on a hard surface or turned over until it maintains a homogeneous, uniformly milky suspension.



Syringes

Caninsulin insulin must only be used with U40 syringes. You can buy a box of 100, 29g, U40 syringes from TheVetStore for £8.50. Needle size refers to both the length and gauge (thickness) of the needle. The higher the gauge number of a needle, the finer it is. For smaller dogs, the thinner needles are much more comfortable. If you prefer shorter, thinner needles, you can by a box of  BD Micro Fine Plus syringes (green box) from MediProfi. One box contains either 100 30g, 8mm syringes for £15.99 or 200 syringes for £29.99. You do not require a prescription for syringes. Some sites offer free postage on a certain amount bought so it's a good idea to stock up in one go if possible.

Glucose Monitors

The best priced Alphatrak 2 glucose monitor we found online is sold at AnimedDirect. The starter kit costs £80.92, however it is worth looking on Ebay for the meter where it can often be found cheaper. Animed Direct sell the best priced test strips at £44.49 for a tub of 50.  Monitors made for the UK show reading measurements in mmol. If you buy a monitor made for the US market, it's readings will show in mg/dl. You can convert the readings here.

You can use Freestyle Lite test strips in an Alphatrak 2 monitor. These are much cheaper and best prices are always found on Ebay but you will need to have Alphatrak 2 test strips to match the closest reading to find the correct code for using the Freestyle Lite strips in your Alphatrak 2 monitor as the Freestyle Lite test strips do not provide a code for the Alphatrak 2. When using the Freestyle Lite strips, you will need to code the Alphatrak 2 meter to either 5, 6, 7, 35, 36 or 37. Compare the readings of each of these codes to the reading from an Alphatrak 2 strip. The closest match will be the correct one for that particular tub of Freestyle Lite strips.

For the lancet needles, you can use the Freestyle Lite versions in your monitor which again, are usually found cheaper on Ebay or you can use generic lancet needles purchased from pharmacies such as Boots Chemist.

If you buy a cable, you can upload the data from your alphatrak2 monitor to your computer using the AlphaTRAKer Software.



Urine Test Strips

Urine test strips are available to check for ketones in urine. You can buy Bayer Ketostix Reagent Strips for around £5.00 on various websites. It is a good idea to test your dog's urine for ketone levels if your dog's blood sugar levels have been running high. If the reading is higher than trace, you should contact your vet straight away to prevent the risk of Ketoacidosis. Drinking water should always be encouraged if your dog is showing high glucose levels.

Disposal of Syringes

A simple way of disposing used syringes, is to use a needle cutter such as the BD Safe Clip which can be purchased online or in chemists for just a couple of pounds. This clipping device will remove the used needle from your used insulin syringe and can hold up to 1500 needles.

Honey, Peanut Butter and Crackers

If ever your diabetic dog has a low blood sugar episode, it is vital to catch it in time and bring the glucose levels back up to a safe range and keep them there. Symptoms of low glucose levels include trembling, confusion, lethargy, falling, glassy eyes and bizarre behaviour however some dogs don't show any signs when their glucose levels are low. Using your glucose monitor, you can observe your dog's daily levels with spot checks. If ever you suspect your dog has low blood glucose levels, check with your monitor and be ready to intervene if your dog goes below 5 mmol/L. It is important that you apply honey/ syrup/ glucogel to your dogs gums as soon as you notice the low, to stop the glucose levels dropping any further. Rubbing honey/ syrup/ glucogel on the gums is a quick way of getting sugar into the blood stream. Once doing this has worked in bringing up the glucose levels, it should only take a few minutes, you will need to stop it falling again. A cracker or a slice of bread with peanut butter will achieve this (do not use peanut butter containing xylitol or sweeteners, they are very toxic to dogs). You will need to keep an eye on glucose levels for the next few hours to ensure they do not start to drop again.

A Notebook or Diary

Keep a record of everything in your dog's day such as insulin dosage, food times, glucose readings, exercise, medications and anything else you observe to be out of the ordinary. That way you can refer back if there are any problems and have a better idea as to what works or doesn't work for your dog.