If Your Pet Is Taking VETSULIN® for Diabetes, Call Your Vet Today!

Insulin Bottle with SyringeThe makers of Vetsulin, Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health, announced on February 7, 2011 they will no longer provide the drug, a porcine insulin zinc suspension, after the current supply is exhausted.

The discontinuation is due to possible bacterial contamination in an unreleased batch of the product. However, there have been stability concerns with the drug since 2009 and it has been in limited use since then.

According to Veterinary Practice News

The Vetsulin Critical Need Program was launched in May 2010, intended for a critical need dog or cat that, in the medical judgment of the pet’s veterinarian, could not be effectively managed by another insulin product.

The program was initiated about six months after the FDA announced concerns about the drug’s stability. The FDA was concerned that the product could have unpredictable onset and duration of action. Consequently, the FDA recommended that diabetic dogs and cats receiving Vetsulin be switched to other insulin products.

The letter to pet owners and veterinarians from Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health can be found here. The company will be providing immediate instructions to veterinarians on how to manage the transition from Vetsulin to other insulin products.

Dr. Becker's Comments:

Vetsulin, the only FDA-approved insulin to treat diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats, has the same amino acid sequence as natural canine insulin.

It is thought to do a better job than biosynthetic human insulin in regulating blood glucose levels in pets – especially dogs. It also lessens the probability a diabetic dog will develop anti-insulin antibodies.

Switching Insulin is Time Consuming and Costly

I feel nothing but compassion for those of you faced with transitioning your pet from Vetsulin to another insulin product.

According to Dr. Sherri Wilson, a Veterinary Information Network consultant, it’s expensive to get a pet re-regulated on different insulin. It can take multiple tests of blood glucose curves costing hundreds of dollars to find an insulin product that will regulate blood sugar with twice-daily injections.

“It can take at least three or four blood glucose curves before you can find an insulin and dosage that works,” Wilson says. “You can teach an owner to do this at home, but they have to buy a glucometer and testing strips. There’s no way around it. It’s expensive.”

Is Your Pet’s Lifestyle Contributing to His Diabetes?

Type I diabetes, the type that occurs in the young, is very rare in companion animals.

If your pet has the condition, he probably has Type II, adult-onset diabetes. The disease is more common in cats than dogs and is most often diagnosed in neutered male pets over the age of ten.

Diabetes in an older pet is usually the result of a lifestyle that has led to decreased production of insulin or the inability of the body to use it efficiently. Obesity is by far the most common lifestyle problem leading to the development of diabetes.

And as the obesity rate among companion animals has skyrocketed, so has the incidence of diabetes.

The majority of pets in the U.S. consume a high-calorie, high carb diet. This, despite the fact they are carnivores with no physiological requirement for grains! Your pet doesn’t need carbs, and certainly not in the amounts contained in most commercial pet foods.

The carbs in your pet’s food break down into sugar. Excess sugar can result in diabetes.

Three Steps to Preventing or Managing Diabetes in Your Cat or Dog

  1. Feed a species-appropriate diet that is carb-free. Control your pet’s caloric intake and maintain an optimal weight. You can slim down or keep your dog or cat lean and fit by feeding a portion controlled, moisture rich species-appropriate diet consisting primarily of a variety of unadulterated protein sources, healthy fats, veggies and fruit in moderation, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary.
  2. Get your pet moving. Dogs and cats also need regular physical exertion to keep their bodies toned and strong and to help maintain a healthy weight. Unless you’re actively exercising your dog or cat, her exertion will be anaerobic – short bursts of energy followed by long periods of rest. Anaerobic exercise won’t condition her heart or muscles or burn the calories she consumes. Make sure your dog gets a minimum of 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise that elevates her heart rate.
  3. If you have a kitty, a little creativity may be in order to get her moving. Work with your cat’s natural feline tendencies and involve her in games that appeal to her hunter and predator instincts. You might want to invest in a laser pointer to entice your kitty to be physically active. You can find one at any pet supply store.

  4. Don't allow your pet to be over-vaccinated. The incidence of companion animals with immune system dysfunction has increased in recent years. Dogs, especially, are prone to immune system attacks on the cells that secrete insulin in the pancreas. This circumstance points to an autoimmune component in the development of Type II diabetes in canines.
  5. Autoimmune disease can be the result of overstimulation of the immune system. The number one culprit in stimulating your pet’s immune system is vaccines.

Add a Holistic Vet to Your Pet’s Treatment Team

I also recommend you consult with a holistic or integrative vet who will partner with you to create a lifestyle for your precious companion that will help prevent serious, debilitating diseases like diabetes.

If your dog or cat is already living with the disease, a holistic vet can help you overcome lifestyle obstacles that may be contributing to the condition, as well as recommend natural remedies and therapies to improve your pet’s general health and quality of life.