James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT
May 8, 2015
As obesity in our pets continues to rise, so does the prevalence of diabetes. Diabetes is a disease where the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin. Insulin is required for the cells in the body to take in and utilize a sugar called glucose for energy. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood stream and eventually spills out into the urine. Dogs and cats with diabetes often will have a ravenous appetite (while losing weight), drink lots of water, and urinate in large amounts.
Once a diagnosis of diabetes has been made in a pet, they are typically treated with injections of insulin. While insulin injections are easy to administer, regulating a pet’s blood glucose can be challenging. In the past, insulin therapy has been monitored by performing blood sugar curves. This involves collecting a blood sample from the patient every 2 hours for 12-24 hours, resulting in a lot of blood draws! This usually has to be performed in a veterinary hospital, which causes even more stress to the patient, and can lead to inaccurate results. However, now our pet patients can benefit from the same technology used in human diabetic patients – continuous glucose (sugar) monitors.
A continuous glucose monitor is a device that measures the glucose concentration under the skin every 5 minutes. A very small flexible probe is inserted under the skin and a quarter-size monitor is attached to the probe. The device is typically placed between the shoulder blades and can be worn quite comfortably by either a dog or cat. The continuous glucose monitor takes glucose measurements for 3-5 days! During this time, the device can be worn by the pet at home, which allows them to be as comfortable as possible while they maintain a normal daily routine.
This provides the most accurate understanding of your pet’s blood glucose control throughout the day. And it provides the pet’s veterinarian with the best information to make adjustments to insulin therapy. With this state-of-the-art method of blood sugar monitoring, diabetic patients will have the opportunity to become better regulated, which leads to living longer lives!