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02/03/2013 / katnewman

It’s D-day. Time to inject the cat for the first time

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Ok, so you have everything ready? I lay everything out first – needle, test strip, test machine…vet pen, spare needle, needle remover – and a chart or piece of paper to write all notes, results and observations on. This will be invaluable to you and your vet as it will give a good picture over time. I also store my needles in little kilner jars so they are handy, and I can grab one easily. It also looks quite cool 🙂

Your vet should have popped your first cartridge in for you and made it ready and showed you how to change the needle – or showed you how to use syringe needles and stuff if that’s your choice. If not then the vet pen comes with pretty good instructions.

Also keep to hand the list of error messages for the machine, I ripped mine out of the book as its all I needed out of it after the first few go’s.

The vet pen needs to be tipped back and forth 10 times to mix the fluids – do not shake! I do this before I get into the feeding part.

Ok, so everything laid out and to hand, I prepare his food. He has wet food, according to advice I have found, kibble is full of carbs and bad for diabetics, I will do a piece on diet and the links I have found another day. Anyway, wet food. I mix this with a bit of water because he is prone to UTI’s and this is the best way to get him to drink fluids – it also slows him down and gives me enough time to do what I need to do.

As soon as I put the food down I put the test strip into the machine and grab my needle ready to do the blood test. The only place you vsn do this from ie around the edge of the ear. There is a vein running about 1mm from the edge, all the way round. This is obviously easier if your pet has white ears but you will get used to it! I have a very bright light shining on him too.

Ok first learning curve here – took 2 weeks to suss this out – poor little Harry’s ears looked terrible and so did my fingers! I was trying to ‘prick’ as you would if he were a human, and ended up going right through on numerous occasions, into my fingers! I also didn’t realise that you need to squeeze some blood up, it doesn’t just come by itself! So – best way to do this is to lay the ear over your finger, and slide the tip of the needle into the skin at about a 5 degree angle to the skin – ie laid almost flat to the ear. The needle will have a bevelled point, what I do is lay the very pointy end to the bottom, leaving the bevelled hole facing up. Slide it in for a mm or so and then take it out and put it in your sharps box or somewhere safe. Still holding the ear, push and squeeze from either side of the hole you just made until you get a pinprick of blood. Make sure your machine is still ‘on’ and ready, and put the testy end of the strip to the blood – it should suck it up and analyse it. Make a note of the reading on your chart.

The first few times are daunting, and you should be prepared for some failed attempts. The test strips are very expensive so you can’t go on indefinitely, especially as your cat will run out of food eventually and won’t be occupied for the injection, which is the most important bit! Whilst you are trying to get the blood sugar level down, there is no risk of overdosing your pet on insulin, so I generally give up if I have more than 3 aborted attempts. The injection is way more important.

If any of this is sounding too daunting, just remember – you need to do this for the sake of your animal. No question!

Right, ready for the easy bit? My vet showed me how to do this in the clinic, and demonstrated using a piece of paper. He made an upside down ‘U’ with the paper to represent the ‘tent’ you will make with his skin. Practice pulling up some of your pet’s ‘scruff’ and get used to the difference between just the skin, and pulling up the skin with the muscle underneath. You only want the skin.

Twist the dial to the dosage level as prescribed by your vet.

So with one hand holding up the skin into a tent, insert the needle in through the side ensuring that the slider is on top. The skin is tough so there will be a little resistance at first but just apply pressure and it will go in. I do it at a very slight angle so as to avoid stabbing my fingers through the other side.

Ensure you have not inserted the needle into muscle or pushed it through both sides of the skin by wiggling the needle from side to side and up and down gently. I also now carefully stroke with one of the fingers holding the scruff to make sure it hasn’t gone all the way through. When you are confident the needle is correct then push down on the slider to give the insulin dose. You should hear a click and the dosage dial should return to 0. Hold the needle in place and count 5 seconds. Pull the needle out and stroke your pet around the injection site to ensure you cant feel any liquid – ie if the needle went straight through. – this does happen, all you can do is mark on your records that it was potentially bodged. Don’t re-inject your cat or you may overdose him, but noting it down will help your vet get a full picture of what’s going on in the future.

So then you just change the needle on your vet pen, putting the old needle into the sharps box. There is a special little gadget to do this with in your pack as the needle is so small.

So there you are, I bet you are thinking how easy and non eventful that injection as aren’t you?! I found the blood test much more stressful but I didn’t have the benefit of knowing that its easier if you put the needle in at an angle – this should be so much easier for you! You really can do this.

More to come, I want to talk to you about the emotional side of this, plus the diet aspects and changes you can make if you want to.

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