Testing Blood Glucose - Ear

Testing blood glucose in the ear - WITH PICTURES:

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.

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. 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 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 but use more pressure on the lancet. The amount of blood needed may vary based on what meter you have. We have the AlphaTRAK 2 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. 

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 again,  blood comes out of many holes at once. Not good!

Ready!
I'm STILL ready...

I can see the treats!

Bella: I want some treats, too. Please?

Pinch and rub

Using the lancet

Pinch to get blood flowing

Blood!
Testing with the OLD AlphaTRAK meter

Leftover blood

TREATS! Nom Nom
Triple antibiotic ointment


If you have ANY tips or suggestions, please leave them below in the comments section! Thank you!!

34 comments:

  1. Oh this looks painful. I have never been able to do a blood test on my dog Zeke. He is feisty and would bite me if I tried to do anything like that. So I have always relied on the vet and at home I use urine sticks.

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  2. Buzz hated this when he was first diagnosed. It took a ton of patience and understanding that this was painful for him. Although now, he will do just about anything for a treat, so he puts up with it. He has snarled at me a few times (not recently, though), but I just had to remember that the purpose of this is to help him, whether he knew it or not!

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  3. Hi, This is Mike. Our dog Kasey, a great dane and black lab mix is also diabetic. Out vet showed us a better way to get blood and not doing it on the ear. She said to raise his upper lip and get the sample there. Kasey lays down and we raise his upperlip and use the lancet there and it works just great. It doesn't bother him at all. We found out it was real hard to get blood from his hear and he didn't like that at all. So there is just a suggestion on how to get a good sample and do it quick.

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  4. has anyone tried using a human glucose tester to compare what the animal meter reads?

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    Replies
    1. This blog has done a short review of the AlphaTrak versus the FreeStyle Lite: http://www.diabeticdogblog.com/?p=197

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  5. A very interesting blog, I found your website on Google and thought, I would put a comment. Keep up the good work.
    Control high blood sugar

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  6. Excellent! I took a deep breath, when I found buzz! I thought I was the only one in the world with a diabetic IBD dog! .....I however, am having a very very difficult time managing the IBD!!!! I have yet to find a diet she will STAY on! I manage to design one, organize the insulin, IBD flares, she stops eating, gotta find new diet AND then readjust insulin!!!!.... Ant thoughts, shared experiences would be appreciated!!!

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    Replies
    1. It's good to know that we're not alone as well! :) We had a really hard time when Buzz was first diagnosed with IBD. Right now he's on Hills prescription diet z/d (http://www.hillspet.com/products/pd-canine-zd-canine-ultra-allergen-free-dry.html). Our vets say it's the best food for an IBD/diabetic. We've tried to switch him a few times when he's gotten sick and won't eat - but he always does the best on this food. Right now we're learning that he's going to need to be on metronidazole once a month or at the very least once every other month. I hope this info helps. Let me know if you have any questions! You can also email me at mydoghasdiabetes@gmail.com

      -Erin

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  7. Hi there! I just wanted to say hi and THANK YOU for this post. I haven an 11-year-old Westie and he was just diagnosed with diabetes... The hardest thing was getting enough blood for the glucose test but this really helped! Buzz looks like a true champ and Bella is of course a cutie and I wish you all 4 lots of love, treats and exciting and happy moments to come, babe! Again - THANK YOU.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind comment! I hope things have gotten easier for you!! Please let me know if you have any questions about anything. Did you get an AlphaTrak for glucose testing?

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  8. The underside of the top lip above the canine tooth works wonderfully for obtaining the blood sample. Very few nerve endings so no pain and with oodles of blood.

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  9. New too all this. The only that has tested my dog is the vet and I have to hold the little guy or else....I just got the kit and tried this morning, but couldn't do it....He growled and yapped. Poor thing; he has lost most sight and gets three eye treatments a day, along with the two insulin shots...Now, the glucose monitoring? Not easy. Someone said to do it on the tail. Any feedback on this?

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    Replies
    1. I have absolutely no experience with testing other than the ear, because it works for us. Just be patient and gives lots of praise and reward. Pretty soon your pup will figure it out. It's hard to get there because they don't understand, but once he gets it, I promise it will be easier!!

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  10. I feed my diabetic dog the human diabetic diet. I cook for her. Lean beef, chicken and turkey. Vegetables, especially green beans. She eats a little apple without the skin. Low Carb. She gets her carbs from a Meaty Bone dog biscuit , or a Begging Strip for a treat. We feed her some dry food at least every other day so her diet stays balanced. She is 11 and has been diabetic for over 3 years. Make sure your dog gets walks and other exercise. It helps control their weight and keeps them happy.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the info! I definitely make sure my dogs get a walk every day. Not only does it help Buzz's diabetes, but it gets his energy out too! :)

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  11. Exercise can either drop the glucose levels, or increase them, all depending upon where their sugar level is at that time. It is recommended not to exercise if they are over 250 as that indicates a lack of insulin in the system which can actually send them higher. Blood testing on a regular basis is a very important part of their care...imagine just blindly injecting a human child without first knowing their glucose level.Feeding the same meal with consistancy is a very important part of their treatment as the insulin dose is 'set' to work with that caloric count, many weigh the food to be sure each meal is exactly the same as the next.

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  12. A great site to help learn how to blood test; http://k9diabetes.com/bgtestvideos.html

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  13. I have a 6 year old Westie who has just been diagnosed with diabetes. I am having trouble getting enough blood from his ear. I notice you are simply using the actual lancet to prick his ear whereas I have been using the pen like utensil into which you insert the lancet and then use to prick the ear. My dog freaks out when he sees it. Am I right on thinking you just use the actual lancet to prick the ear! I don't know who is more stressed - me or my dog. Any advice would be most helpful. Thank you.

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    Replies
    1. Use just the lancet. The clicking of the holder also freaked my dog out. I even had to shut off the beeps on the tester . My vet suggested using a bit of Vaseline on the ear as it will make the blood bead up instead of going every direction

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  14. Taffy my 13yrs old cocker was diagnosed 2 days ago diabetic. I'll have to stop taking blood from her upper lip cuz she is starting to look like a stainer. I just shaved her ear n hope it will go well tonite. thanks for the tips.

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    Replies
    1. Erin please help me ....Dianbou@hotmail.com

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  15. Nowadays the technology has become so advanced that diabetic patients can check their blood sugar level at home only. These equipments are so small that anybody can carry them to office or wherever they want.

    Regards,
    Charlie

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  16. Unfortunately if you are reading this page, your dog is in pain and can't tell you where. It is sad that such loyal and fierce animals must go through things that no creature should have to endure. As an owner, you should become more knowledgeable about cancer in your pet, and find out what options you have for dog cancer treatment.

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    So far the things you have learned will help you get a good start on your dog's recovery. Remember that mast cell tumors can be stopped with a full recovery if you catch it in the earliest stages of life. It is your responsibility to keep an eye on your dog and make sure that their life stays a healthy one.

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  18. Hello dear.. This is great post you shared with us. I found great tips. I am happy to found this blog. diabetes test

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  19. My Scottie is 10. She quickly knows what's going on when I have to give her the insulin shots and is nervous of course. I did really well learning how to do the injections but now it is the monitoring the blood that is hard for me. Hoping all this will get easier as time goes on and I get use to it. It is stressful, but I am managing so far. Best advice I can give is to remember it is saving your dogs life. I hope my Scottie is around for a long time!!!

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  20. Just tried to do our first curve at home and I failed. Couldn't get blood from her ear, at least not enough to not get an error on the AlphaTrac. I'm so very frustrated. I decided to not put our 12yo Jack Russell through any more today, so moved on to her insulin. She fought me on that and it used to be SO easy to inject her. Had to do it twice and she tried to "escape" and I pulled out so not to drag the needle. Kenai's been Diabetic, or at least diagnosed, since October....and she's gone blind. She used to be feisty, so knew it would likely be problematic giving injections and so on...but it's gotten worse since she's gone blind. I let her smell the syringe, but she growls every time now. I'm at my wits end some days. This was to be our first curve at home...was so excited to not have to bring her to the vet. We need to get her regulated as we've found out she's a candidate for cataract surgery and we'd love to restore her sight. Without regulation, no surgery. She's our only "child", so it just kills me this has become such a chore, for all of us, but particularly her. We moved on to insulin and her eye drops, which she gets treats with as well. At least something got done today, but, still...I failed. :(

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    1. Our 6 yr old maltese,Jackson, was diagnosed in October. We thought we had his diabetes under control, but lately its been off the chart so we had another visit to the vet today. Jackson lost his sight in January, almost overnight it seemed. He was running into thing, falling off the deck, etc. His most favorite thing in the world is playing fetch with a tennis ball, and he couldn't do that any longer. We had his cataracts removed last month and he is so much happier. He's playing again and not running into things. It was a difficult decision because of the cost, and continued cost with all of the eye drops (we had 6 different kinds to give him 2-3 times a day). He started loosing weight and we went to the vet today and they are changing his diabetic food and insulin amounts. Giving the insulin hasn't been a problem because we just lift the skin between his neck and shoulder and put the needle in sideways, he doesn't seem to even feel it. Getting blood is another story. I've been trying to get the blood from his ear but I feel so sorry for him because I end up having to do it several times to get enough for our Alpha Trac also. I don't know if I can do it or not, but I'm going to watch the video mentioned previously and see if I can learn to do a better job. We're not experts by any means, it's been and continues to be a learning experience. I am so glad I found this website to see that others are having the same problems and how they are dealing with them.

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  21. My 10 year old miniature Schnauzer has had diabetes for about a year. He had cataracts removed from both eyes and replaced with plastic lenses. It was a miracle that he now has his sight back! He is very good about getting insulin injections (he gets 16 units bid of Vetsulin, which is a U40 type). I recently purchased an Alphatrak 2 meter starter kit, and I had a vet technician show me how to get blood samples from his ear. The technician struggled to get a decent drop of blood, and so you can imagine how difficult it has been for an amateur pet owner like me to get blood samples. My dog doesn't bleed! I have tried a number of times over a number of days to no avail. I am getting very frustrated, and so I am considering trying to get blood from his upper lip. Is that really a good spot to get blood from? I would think that getting stuck with a lancet in the lip would be very painful! HELP!

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    Replies
    1. UPDATE: I am Anonymous who wrote the about question about lancing a dog's lip. NEVER MIND! I finally had good success getting blood samples from my dog's ear by first warming it! I used a medical hot/cold pack that has soft plastic beads in a highly viscous liquid (about the viscosity of honey). This hot/cold pack can be heated in the microwave for about 30 seconds (notably very warm, but not hot!) and then applied to the dog's ear for a few minutes. I folded the hot/cold pack around the ear so that it warmed both sides at the same time. After only about 4 or 5 minutes, the ear was notably read, and when I lanced it about a 16th of an inch from the outer edge (where his marginal ear vein is located) a nice drop of blood formed! It did not require any rubbing or squeezing, or some of the other things that people do to coax the blood to flow. Anyone else having trouble getting blood samples from a dog ear might want to try this tip!

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  23. I have tried for 2 wks to get a blood sample from my dogs ear with only one successful try. I've tried warming it rubbing it and sometimes it won't bleed at all and other times I can't get but a tiny drop which won't read. I really hate to do her lip since she is a small chihuahua. I have even got out and ran her up and down the street to get her blood flowing - didn't help. Any suggestions?

    ReplyDelete
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