Q: My cat Jasper gets insulin injections for his diabetes, and his veterinarian wants me to monitor his blood sugar levels at home using an AlphaTrak veterinary glucose meter. I’m told the AlphaTrak gives more accurate results with cat blood than a human glucose meter, which I can borrow from a family member. Do I really need to spend the money on a veterinary glucose meter?
A: Yes. Research has shown that veterinary glucose meters like the AlphaTrak are much more accurate for measuring cat and dog blood glucose (sugar) levels than blood glucose meters designed for human blood.
In one study in which results were classified as normal, low or high, five human glucose meters inaccurately classified up to 39 percent of the pets’ blood glucose levels. When results are so inaccurate that they fall into the wrong diagnostic category, the decision to increase or decrease an insulin dose will be incorrect, endangering the pet’s life.
Another reason to use a veterinary meter is to ensure Jasper’s comfort. The AlphaTrak requires only one-tenth as much blood as a human meter, so even a very tiny drop is enough to produce an accurate result.
Home glucose testing is especially helpful in cats, as many exhibit stress hyperglycemia—abnormally high blood sugar levels induced by stress—when they’re tested at the animal hospital. For information on how to check Jasper’s blood sugar at home, go to veterinarypartner.com and search “monitoring glucose.”
Editor’s Note: The A1C test may be helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of diabetes treatment in pets. Dr. Lee discusses this test and ways veterinarians monitor pets with diabetes.
Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.