With more people wanting to test their pet’s blood sugar at home, I am often asked the following question: Can I use my human glucometer to measure my pet’s blood sugar level? The answer is a definite maybe.
In my experience, the most common glucometer used in veterinary practice is the Alpha Trak by Abbott. This unit is designed specifically for animals – cats, dogs, ferrets, horses, rats and mice. Each batch of test strips comes with a code that is entered into the unit to help insure the accuracy of the results. It requires 0.6 microliters of blood which is easily obtained from most animals.
There are many other glucometers including the One Touch Ultra, Reli On Micro, Ascencia Contour, Accucheck Aviva and the Freestyle that some people use on animals even though they were designed for humans. Before using any of these devices, I strongly recommend testing it for accuracy. Draw enough blood from the animal to perform a blood glucose curve on the new device as well as the veterinary hospital’s blood analyzer. Compare the results, i.e. blood glucose curves and pay special attention to the extremes i.e., high and low blood sugar levels, as this seems to be where the greatest differences occur.
No matter what kind of glucometer you have, I strongly recommend checking it against a reliable machine at least every six months to make sure it is still working properly. Never change your pet’s insulin dosage without speaking to your veterinarian first. I know I sound like a broken record on this, but I had a client kill their pet with an insulin overdose. Watching that cat suffer and die left an indelible mark. Work collaboratively with your veterinarian to make sure this does not happen to your pet.