So for today, I thought I could walk you through our steps as we test Buzz's blood glucose.
We use his ear to test and his right ear usually gives more blood, so we always try that one first. If, for some reason, we aren't getting good results, we'll wait 5 minutes and try the other ear. Sometimes it hurts him and he'll whine or move suddenly, but that's the reality of trying to get his blood. You just have to keep thinking that this is keeping your pup healthy and without it, he/she could die.
I want to emphasize that this process may not be best for your dog. This is meant to just be a sort of guideline so that it's not so overwhelming when you first set out to do this. Play around with it and find what works best for you and your dog!
Okay - I'll break down what we do step-by-step. And if you have any questions, feel free to leave a message or email me.
Testing blood glucose in the ear:
- Find a comfortable place. Buzz lays down on the couch while we do this to relax him. I've tried it with him sitting up and that never ever works.
- Make sure treats are ready - and be sure to give plenty. We use Greenies pill pockets and I tear them into very small pieces. I give him one small piece before, some pieces during if I can manage to grab them, and a big piece after.
- Prepare the meter and test strip - and put in a place that's easy to reach once you have a drop of blood. Don't turn it on yet.
- Buzz will sit down and I'll push his legs out to make him lay on his side. I'll kind of drape myself over him; I know dogs aren't supposed to like being in close quarters like this, but it really relaxes Buzz and makes it easier to control him if he gets squirmy.
- Pick a spot on the ear and rub or pinch (not too hard!) the edge of the ear close to your spot to get blood flowing. It will turn red and feel warm under your finger. (Buzz finds this uncomfortable so if he's squirming a lot, I'll give him a small piece of treat.)
- Use a lancet to gently poke the edge of the ear. There's a vein the runs along the outer edge of the ear and it's pretty easy to get blood from that. The closer to the head you get, the more it's going to hurt your dog (more nerve endings), so I try to stay pretty far away from the head. Check the picture (please excuse my lack of artisitic skills!). The red line is the vein and the black arrow is where I try to take blood. Don't poke too hard, you really only need to get past the first few layers of skin. I set the lancet on his ear, apply gentle pressure, and spin the lancet to get traction. That may sound weird, but it works. Right before I'm about to continue to the next step, I'll fold the ear back and quickly put a little more pressure with the lancet on the fold, this seems to be less painful for Buzz.
- Squeeze the ear from the edge to where you poked - trying to get the blood from the vein to your hole, kind of like you do with rolled up toothpaste.
- If you can only get a small amount of blood, then repeat step 5 in the same spot.
- If you aren't getting any blood at all but see that the area is red (meaning blood is there!), then repeat step 5 but with more pressure.
- The amount of blood needed may vary based on what meter you have. We have the AlphaTRAK meter and we need a very small amount of blood - usually a drop about the size of half a grain of rice works just fine. Once you get enough blood, grab the meter, turn on and hold up to your drop of blood.
- If we don't get enough blood the first time, then we have an additional 60 seconds to try to get more with our meter. However, sometimes Buzz's blood clots on the test strip itself and the meter refuses to take any more blood. From experience, it's best to just get a new test strip rather than racing to get more blood. So if this happens, I put a brand new test strip into the meter and repeat all of these steps making sure to get more blood the second time around.
- If I'm still not getting blood, I'll move to a new spot and do it all over with an unused test strip.
- Our meter beeps when we get enough blood and I immediately give a treat to Buzz and praise and pet him. And voila, blood glucose results and a happy pup! :)
- Afterwards, I put on some triple antibiotic ointment to help the tiny hole heal, as well as prevent infection. Diabetics have a hard time healing, so sometimes if I forget this step and I go to take blood, blood comes out of many holes at once. Not good!
There are some good pictures on this website - http://www.caninediabetes.org/bloodear.html.
I don't need as much blood as that website shows, so I'll try to remember to take some pictures and update this post at a later date.