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425 East Broadway
Red Lion, PA 17356

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Posted on 02-24-2019

A New Way to Monitor Glucose in Diabetic Pets

               Diabetes mellitus is a fairly common medical condition in both people and in dogs and cats.  Periodic monitoring of blood glucose levels is necessary to ensure pets are receiving proper doses of insulin, especially when they are first diagnosed.  This used to involve either a stay in the hospital for a day so multiple readings could be taken over an eight to twelve hour period (known as a glucose curve) or having owners purchase a specific blood glucose monitor and take readings at home by pricking their pet’s ear or paw pad to get a drop of blood.  Now, there is a new way to monitor glucose levels.  Patton Veterinary Hospital recently started using a new glucose monitor on some of our diabetic pets.

               The FreeStyle Libre* system was designed for people to allow continuous monitoring of blood sugar levels using a sensor that is attached to the skin.  The device has a small probe that enters the skin to monitor glucose levels in the body using an external reader that is waved over the sensor to collect data.  Veterinarians tried the sensor on cats and dogs, and found that it provides fairly accurate readings, is easy to use, and is pain free for pets.

               The Libre sensor is a small white disk that your veterinarian applies to the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades. A bit of preparation is needed:  the skin is shaved and cleaned with alcohol then allowed to dry. The system comes with an applicator that aids in pressing the disk onto the skin to allow the small probe to enter the skin and to adhere with an adhesive.  A digital reader is then waved over the disk to collect glucose readings. The disk is active for ten to fourteen days depending on the style that is chosen.  Readings can be collected throughout the day to determine trends in the pet’s glucose levels.  The disk is removed after the designated time period as it no longer functions after that time. Patton’s vets have several patients using Libre systems and all have been well tolerated with little to no reaction from the pet when the device is applied.

Libre would typically be applied about two weeks after starting insulin therapy and new disks may need to be applied periodically to check glucose levels until a therapeutic dose of insulin is found.  Clients purchase the sensor/applicator and reader from a pharmacy.  Our veterinarians then apply the disk at an office visit and, once the disk has had a chance to equilibrate to the pet (this takes about an hour), the client takes readings at home every 1-2 hours over the course of a day. This data is then submitted to our office where a veterinarian interprets the results and makes adjustments to your pet’s insulin if needed. The disk is removed in ten to fourteen days and a new one applied if necessary.  Spot checking glucose levels can also be done anytime while the pet is wearing the sensor.

While not for everyone, the FreeStyle Libre system does look promising in providing virtually pain free and hassle-free collection of blood sugar levels in diabetic dogs and cats. It eliminates the need for a hospital stay or pricking the ear or pad to obtain blood for glucose monitoring at home.  This new technology is very beneficial in aiding the monitoring of our diabetic patients. Please contact our office if you would like more information about this form of glucose monitoring.

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York and the surrounding communities.

*FreeStyle Libre is trademarked by Abbot Laboratories