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Understanding Your Dog’s Insulin Requirements (A Comprehensive Guide To Canine Diabetes)




Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Roberston

Understanding Your Dog's Insulin Requirements (A Comprehensive Guide To Canine Diabetes)



Dr. Joel Robertson

Veterinarian, BMT

The information in this article is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research

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Caring for a dog that has diabetes is a very hard task. However, as a pet parent, you should do what is best for your pet and give them the best life possible.

One way to provide your diabetic dog with a long and happy life is to understand its insulin requirements.

What Is Dog Insulin?

Understanding Your Dog's Insulin Requirements (A Comprehensive Guide To Canine Diabetes)

Dog insulin, produced by the pancreas, helps regulate blood sugar levels. It plays an integral role in your dog’s normal metabolic processes and overall well-being.

Insulin assists with glucose metabolism to guarantee cells receive enough energy for proper function.

Without enough insulin levels in the body, dogs could experience serious medical issues like diabetes mellitus or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).

Diabetes Mellitus occurs when there are insufficient amounts of insulin present while hypoglycemia arises when too much insulin is present in the bloodstream.

When a dog is unable to naturally produce insulin, they need to be injected with a vet-prescribed insulin drug.

Dog insulin is a synthetic version of human insulin specifically made for dogs.

It’s manufactured using recombinant DNA technology to replicate the natural canine hormone.

Because protamine zinc insulin acts longer-lasting than human insulin does, you only need to give it once or twice daily instead of multiple doses throughout the day as human insulin does.

Dog insulin helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces diabetes-related risks in dogs but should only be administered under veterinary supervision as incorrect doses could cause serious side effects like hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or high blood sugar.

(Related: How To Give Your Diabetic Dog Insulin Injections (Vet Explained))

How Many Times a Day Does a Diabetic Dog Need Insulin?

When managing diabetes in a dog, the amount of insulin required varies based on the individual canine and the severity of the disease.

Generally, diabetic dogs require 2 injections of insulin daily (spaced out 12 hours apart).

Additionally, if diet and exercise are part of their diabetes management plan, adjustments may be made according to how well those changes are being managed.

It is essential that you adhere strictly to timing and dosage instructions from your veterinarian so that your pet gets all the necessary care.

Diabetic dog owners must understand how stress can impact their pet’s blood sugar levels and insulin requirements.

When stressed, certain hormones and chemicals in a pet’s body may increase blood sugar.

Therefore, owners should strive to create an atmosphere free from stress so their pet’s hormone requirements do not fluctuate drastically.

Finally, the amount of insulin a diabetic dog needs will vary based on their individual requirements and situation.

It is essential to follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding doses and amounts in order to guarantee your pet receives proper care.

Moreover, owners should be aware of how stress can negatively impact their pup’s diabetes management plan.

With proper care and management, owners can provide their pets with the highest quality of life possible.

(Related: How To Monitor Your Dog’s Blood Sugar [The Proper Way])

What Is The Best Insulin For a Diabetic Dog?

The best insulin for a diabetic dog will depend on the individual needs of your pet and the advice of your veterinarian.

Generally, veterinarians recommend Humulin-R U-500, Lantus, and Prozinc.

Humulin-R U-500

Humulin-R U-500 is an effective long-acting insulin used to manage diabetes in dogs. This type of medication has been around for decades with excellent results and high efficacy.

It begins working within 6 hours after administration but the peak effect may take up to 8-10 hours later.

At an affordable cost compared to other dog insulin types, Humulin-R U-500 has become one of the go-to drugs prescribed by veterinarians due to its long-lasting nature and great effectiveness.


Lantus insulin is currently the most widely prescribed diabetes drug due to its long duration (up to 24 hours).

It usually starts working within 1 hour after administration, though peak effect may take place up to 4-8 hours later.

While Lantus costs slightly more than Humulin-R U-500, it remains affordable and popular among veterinarians for treating canine diabetes.


Fast-acting insulin with a duration of 8-12 hours, making it ideal for dogs that require frequent injections due to their condition.

It usually starts working within 30 minutes after administration but its peak effectiveness may take up to 3-5 hours.

Furthermore, its cost is relatively low compared to other types of insulin available on the market. Veterinarians are increasingly finding success using it as an effective solution for diabetic dogs.

(Related: What Is Diabetes In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Types, and Treatment)

What Are The Side Effects Of Insulin In Dogs?

Insulin is essential when it comes to diabetic dogs. However, some dogs might react badly to insulin, or we as pet parents could give them more or less insulin that they need.

Common side effects of insulin drugs in diabetes dogs include:

  • Hypoglycemia (when too much insulin is injected)
  • High blood sugar (when too little insulin is injected)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Increased drinking or urinating
  • Skin irritation at injection sites

It is essential to monitor your dog closely for any signs of distress. Contact your veterinarian right away if anything seems unusual.

Additionally, insulin therapy may place undue strain on some diabetic dogs’ organs such as their liver or kidneys, potentially leading to further complications.

Therefore, regular blood tests are highly recommended in order to guarantee everything is functioning normally when using this medication.

With proper supervision from a qualified veterinarian, insulin therapy can be an effective and safe way for managing diabetes in dogs.

Can a Diabetic Dog Eat After Insulin?

Yes! A diabetic dog can eat after getting an insulin injection. When feeding a diabetic dog, the most important thing is to maintain consistent meal times and portion sizes.

Doing this helps keep their blood sugar levels in check.

After administering insulin to your pup, your dog can immediately eat or up to one hour after getting injected.

Make sure your pet receives a balanced diet consisting of quality proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.

If possible, feed your pet homemade meals or premium store-bought formulas designed specifically for diabetes.

Additionally, stay away from processed foods or treats which could cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.

Finally, never skip any meals when caring for a diabetic dog. This could lead to serious health issues in the future.

How Long After Starting Insulin Will My Dog Feel Better?

It depends on each dog and the condition being treated, but in most cases, you should see improvement in your dog’s symptoms within a week of beginning insulin therapy.

In fact, it may take up to several weeks for all its full effects to take hold as your pet’s body adjusts to new hormone levels.

It is essential that you monitor your pet’s blood glucose levels regularly. Adjust their dosage as necessary during this transition period.

With proper management and adjustments, many dogs living with diabetes are able to lead happier, healthier lives with improved quality of life while on insulin treatment

Finally, always consult your veterinarian prior to beginning any treatment regimen for your pet. They can offer tailored advice based on individual needs and medical history.

How Long Can a Dog Live With Diabetes Take Insulin?

When it comes to diabetes management, the answer lies within each dog and how well they are managed.

With proper diet, exercise, regular veterinarian visits, and insulin injections when prescribed, many diabetic dogs can live a long and healthy life with the condition if properly cared for.

With proper care, some may even reach their full lifespan without any complications from diabetes.

It’s essential to remember that each dog’s situation is unique; how they are managed depends heavily on severity and response to treatment.

It’s essential to note that diabetes mellitus in dogs cannot be cured but can be managed effectively through proper nutrition, exercise, and medication management.

(Related: How To Properly Treat Your Diabetic Dog (Insulin Injection, Diet, and Exercise Tips))

Dogs with diabetes require close monitoring and regular veterinary visits for blood tests to guarantee their glucose levels remain within safe limits.

When managed properly, dogs may lead long and contented lives despite having diabetes.

In Conclusion

If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, it is important that they receive insulin injections, proper food portions, and daily exercise. Managing diabetes is hard, but you have to help your dog.

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