(Humilin®, Iletin® and Novolin® are other names for this medication.)
Use: Insulin is a protein (a chain of amino acids) produced by the pancreas that helps regulate blood sugar. Different kinds of insulin can be injected to control the blood sugar levels of diabetic animals. Because insulin drives potassium back into the blood cells, it is sometimes given to non-diabetic animals that have high potassium levels.
Side Effects: Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is the most common side effect of insulin. Hypoglycemia can be life-threatening. If your pet shows signs of weakness, wobbling, head tilting, shivering, sleepiness, glassy eyes, hunger or confusion, you should immediately get your pet to a veterinarian for emergency treatment. If your pet is having seizures from hypoglycemia, you should get it to a veterinary clinic as fast as possible.
Precautions: Sometimes animals can develop a skin reaction to the insulin at the injection site. Rotating the injection sites should decrease the likelihood of this adverse effect.
Directions: Ideally, animals are started on an insulin that has about a 12 hour duration. This allows the owner to administer two injections daily and not have the activity from the first dose overlap the activity of the second dose. During each of these 12-hour cycles, the insulin will have an onset, peak, and duration. All these times depend on the individual pet and on the type of insulin being used. With some pets, the insulin duration is close to 24 hours, so only one shot is given each day. Discuss administering insulin with your veterinarian.
Remember: Always double-check the dose in the syringe before you inject your pet. Overdoses may be fatal. You might want to make a "guide" to double check how you filled the insulin syringe by making some ink marks at the proper dose on the syringe.
If you miss a dose of this medication you should give it as soon as you remember it, but if it is within a few hours of the regularly scheduled dose, wait and give it at the regular time. Do not double a dose as this can be toxic to your pet.