Diabetes is a common disease in dogs. Routine monitoring of blood using a glucose curve can help your veterinarian determine if the insulin dose is appropriate, too high, or too low, or if a different type of insulin is needed.
The glucose curve will reveal at what time the dog’s glucose level is the highest (also referred to at the peak) and when it is lowest (also referred to as the trough) relative to diet and insulin administration. If the glucose levels always register too high or too low throughout the curve, their insulin level needs to be adjusted.
A glucose curve will also help your veterinarian determine how long the insulin is lasting, when the insulin peaks and, ultimately, whether your pet is receiving the proper type and dose of insulin.
A glucose curve should be done as a matter of routine approximately one week after the patient starts insulin treatment or has any change in dosage of insulin. It should be done monthly for the first several months of treating the diabetes or any time your dog is having health issues that may suggest a problem. For example, if a dog is drinking more, urinating more, vomiting, or losing weight, it’s a good idea to have a curve done.
How is a Glucose Curve Performed at the Hospital?
IMPORTANT: Check with your vet clinic to confirm how they want to do the glucose curve on your dog! Some clinics want you to give the insulin at home and others do not. Both approaches work well as long as the process between you and your veterinarian is clear.
A glucose curve generally takes 12 to 24 hours depending on the type of insulin being used.
Common instructions used in veterinary clinics include the following:
- First, prepare for the day. Your dog will need to be dropped at the veterinary clinic early after you feed them breakfast. You will need to pack the insulin, syringe, and any meals or food your dog should get during the hospital stay.
- Feed your dog as usual.
Following your dog’s meal, either immediately take your dog to the veterinary clinic with his or her insulin, meals, and treats OR give the insulin and drop your dog off. Which option you choose depends on the plan given to you by the vet. When you drop your dog off:
- confirm with the clinic when and what your dog ate, and
- confirm what dose of insulin your dog got or should get and when.
- The clinic will take a blood sample from your dog immediately upon arrival.
- A technician will give your dog his or her insulin dose (if you didn’t give it already).
- The staff will take blood samples every 1 to 2 hours for 12 to 24 hours depending on the insulin type and dosage used.
- The blood results will be recorded and interpreted.
- At the end of the curve period, you will take your dog home and feed them and/or give them their insulin dose as directed by your veterinarian.
The clinic may take the blood samples from the leg or ear or put in an IV catheter. The preferred option will be determined by your veterinarian and your dog’s overall condition, response to insulin, and temperament. For information about symptoms of diabetes, go to Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs.
Some pet parents prefer to perform their own glucose curves. For more information on this process, go to How to Perform a Glucose Curve at Home.