Having a dog recently diagnosed with diabetes can be quite overwhelming. Almost 1 in 300 dogs and 1 in 200 cats will develop diabetes in their lifetime. The good news: Your dog can live a healthy, comfortable life with at-home care and monitoring. The best way to manage and monitor diabetes at home is to have a solid routine and to keep an eye out for a few particular signs.

Managing Diabetes

Your veterinarian will most likely prescribe insulin for your dog. How much and how often you need to give it will be determined by additional tests, called the blood glucose curve. Once he or she knows how much insulin to give your dog, your veterinarian will teach you how to properly administer it. This includes safely storing insulin, drawing up the right amount of insulin, and giving the injection to your dog. You cannot give insulin orally—it has to be injected under the skin. 

Diabetes is managed, not cured, so it needs to be monitored. Your dog will have regular checkups to make sure he or she is receiving the correct dose and doing well at home. 

At-Home Routine: ** May vary depending on your veterinarian’s recommendations**

  • Always keep insulin refrigerated unless told otherwise. ack the insulin in an insulated cooler when transporting, even for a short period of time.
  • In most cases, insulin is to be given every 12 hours. Pick a time that works best for you to give the insulin at the same time every day. For example, give the morning dose at 7 a.m. and the evening dose at 7 p.m. every day.
  • If you need to adjust the time that you give insulin, transition slowly. Adjust by about 30 minutes daily until you get to your new desired times.
  • Remember… food, then insulin! Never the other way around, unless specifically directed to do so by your veterinarian. 
  • Most often, diabetic dogs are not to have any food between the scheduled twelve hours apart feeding times. This can increase the glucose levels in the body during the day.
  • Some dogs may need to be on special diets… avoid foods high in carbs!
  • Make sure all family members know of feeding regulations.
  • When checking glucose, it is best to check six hours after a dose of insulin has been given. Keep in mind that not all at-home glucose monitoring systems are accurate for our pups. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations if you wish to monitor glucose levels at home.

Know the Signs – Low Blood Sugar

** Low blood sugar is much more dangerous than high blood sugar**

  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Twitching / tremors
  • Seizures

*Keep honey or Karo syrup at home in case of low blood sugar. This can be applied to the gums to help increase sugar levels. Always seek veterinary care if you think your dog or cat’s blood sugar may be low.

Know the Signs – High Blood Sugar

  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Unplanned weight loss or weight gain
  • Hyperactivity

How to Check Glucose Levels at Home

For at-home testing, the best places to get blood samples are where the skin is visible with little to no fur over top. These places are the inside of the ear pinna (the floppy part) and the paw pads.

You’ll want to have your glucometer set up and ready to go before you start. Insert the test strip into the glucometer to turn it on and get it ready. Use the lancing device or blood sample collection tool that comes with the glucometer to prick the desired area. A few drops of blood will come to the skin surface. Next, take your test strip and carefully put the sample collection end into the drop of blood. After the sample has been absorbed, your reading will show up on the screen. Once you and your dog get the hang of things, it becomes a very simple and fast procedure!  

While you can check glucose levels at home, it is still important to have regular checks at the veterinary hospital to ensure accuracy. 

There are many systems for monitoring glucose levels at home, but how do you decide which one to use?

 **It is important to remember that human glucometers are different than pet glucometers, and read glucose differently**

Traditional Glucometers

iPet PRO glucometer

  • Developed specifically for dogs and cats
  • Different settings for dog and cat to ensure accuracy
  • Incredibly accurate against veterinary blood chemistry machines
  • Accurately measures blood samples obtained from both veins and capillaries
  • User-friendly
  • Stores readings for 500 glucose readings
  • Gives you average readings for 7, 14, and 30-day periods
  • Comes with everything you need to easily obtain a blood sample at home while maintaining sterility 
  • Comes with a log book so you can record all readings and when they were obtained 


  • Most common glucometer used in veterinary hospitals
  • Developed specifically for dogs and cats
  • Different settings for dog and cat to ensure accuracy
  • User-friendly
  • Comes with everything you need to easily obtain a blood sample at home while maintaining sterility
  • Stores readings for 250 glucose readings
  • Gives average readings for 7, 14, and 30-day periods


  • Developed specifically for dogs and cats
  • Different settings for dogs and cats to ensure accuracy
  • User-friendly 
  • Tools to obtain a blood sample and glucose test strips come separately
  • Stores 1,000 glucose readings
  • Gives average readings for 7, 14, 30, 60, and 90-day periods
  • Event tagging to coordinate your pet’s glucose levels around their meals and exercise  

Flash Glucose Monitoring

Unlike traditional glucometers that only take readings when you prick, these new continuous monitors are constantly taking blood glucose readings. At the moment, there are no veterinary-specific products, but veterinarians have seen great success with the FreeStyle Libre. Flash glucose monitoring works by measuring the glucose in the fluid that is present in the tissues under the skin (interstitial fluid glucose). To do this, an area usually on your dog’s back or side will be shaved and implanted with a sensor. Sensors usually collect about 14 days’ worth of data before needing to be replaced. To get a reading, all you need to do is hover the reader over the sensor. All the data can be downloaded onto an app and sent to your vet for evaluation. 

Urine Dipsticks

While blood glucose monitoring is the gold standard, urine testing can be a helpful add-on. Urine dipsticks work similarly to pool test strips, where you dip them in liquid, wait a given time, and look for a color change. They will not give you an accurate number reading, however. They are mainly looking for evidence of elevated glucose or ketones. When a dog’s blood sugar is high, you will see “spillover” into the urine, and the strips will react with the glucose in the urine. 

After you collect the urine, place one drop of urine on each section and wait the recommended amount of time for the sample sections to be ready to read. You can find these wait times and a key to the results along the side of the bottle.

CheckUp Urine Dipsticks

  • Checks 10 parameters (Urobilinogen, Glucose, Bilirubin, Ketones, Blood, pH, Specific Gravity, Protein, Nitrites, and Leukocytes)
  • One bottle contains 50 test strips 


  • Only looks at Glucose and Ketones, so easier to read at home
  • One bottle contains 50 test strips

Monitoring glucose levels at home can be fairly simple when you have the right tools!