Vetsulin®, a pig based insulin, zinc suspension used to treat diabetes in pets, may have varying amounts of crystalline zinc insulin in the formulation and has been recalled. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health and the Food and Drug Administration, (FDA) report that using this type of insulin for your dog and/or cat may cause a delay in the onset of insulin action and an overall longer duration of insulin activity. Products like Vetsulin with unstable insulin levels can result in unpredictable fluctuations in your pet’s blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is referred to by vets as “blood glucose.” Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is currently unable to assure the FDA that their Vetsulin product is stable.
The FDA and Vetsulin’s manufacturer, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health are asking veterinarians to closely monitor their patients receiving Vetsulin® for any changes in insulin onset or duration of activity, and/or for any signs of elevated blood sugar (hyperglycemia) or lowered blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). Elevated blood sugar would reflect insulin levels that are too low, whereas reduced blood sugar levels would be a result of excessive insulin levels. Classic signs of elevated blood sugar or hyperglycemia include drinking and urinating more, weight loss and lethargy. Signs of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar would include disorientation, unsteadiness, weakness, lethargy, and seizures, convulsions and death.
The report states that Intervet/Schering-Plough is working with the FDA to resolve the Vetsulin problem. In the meantime, veterinarians should consider switching their dog and cat diabetic patients from Vetsulin over to other insulin products. The FDA is asking veterinarians to report adverse events of Vetsulin to Intervet/Schering-Plough’s Animal Health Technical Services Department by calling toll free at 1-800-224-5318.
This veterinarian wants pet owners to be aware of this Vetsulin problem as it can be a life or death situation for their diabetic pets. I also want diabetic dog and cat owners to understand that they can simply ask their vet for a prescription for Pig, or porcine based insulin which can be filled at most local pharmacies for a fraction of the cost of Vetsulin.
As a practicing holistic veterinarian for many years, it would seem to me that monitoring diabetic patients taking this product and waiting for a problem to occur is a less than ideal way to handle this problem. Since the vast majority of regulated diabetic pets are at home with their owners, monitoring them would be difficult if not impossible for veterinarians. In addition, one must wonder whether or not handling a problem like this is truly in the best interest of the patients. Many diabetic pets are elderly and once a blood sugar problem occurs it will be an expensive night mere to correct. It can also be a deadly.
Another way to resolve this, which might avoid life and death pet emergencies and be in the best interest of diabetic dogs and cats would be to ask veterinarians to immediately contact their diabetic patients, taking Vetsulin, explain the problem, have them stop using the Vetsulin, offer them a refund and switch their pets over to a stable insulin product.
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Currently, my 5 year old dog is on Vetsulin 2X/day. We’ve had trouble the first few months getting her regulated. The vet thought the Vetsulin was deteriorating through the shipping process. I now have 4 vials and am not sure if I should use them. The vet has not come up with a suggested insulin replacement. Can you give me guidance as to where and what to look for as a replacement?
Thank you, Tami Jacobi
The reason you can’t regulate him is because the Vetsulin is no good. Your vet needs to refund you for the vials you have,
and write you a prescription for Humulin or NPH insulin which you can buy at almosr any pharmacy, for a lesser cost. Be sure your needles, either 40 IU or 100 IU match the units of your new insulin, which will be either 40IU or 100 IU.
You might also consider getting urine diastix so you can monitor and regulate him yourself at home. This is less expensive than blood glucose curves run at the vet and in order to prevent further damage internally to your dog and protect his kidneys, liver etc. regulating and getting his insulin levels stable as quickly as possible should be your goal
Your vet should teach you how to do this. If you would like me to help you with this. please call my office toll free at 1-866-372-27765.
Our 15 yr old small dog (15 lbs) has just been switched from Vetsulin to Humulin N. Really having a hard time regulating her glucose. Giving her 6u BID. Still seeing 450-525 readings 12 hrs later.
Not sure if this is consistent with what she was on before as we never used a gluco meter until now.
We’ve switched her to diabetic dog food and there is no people or canned food given to her. Still seems to not ‘hold’ her glucose in check for more than a couple hours. Any advice?
Dear Dr. Carol,
My mother has a older cat that has also been on vetsulin and in July had a terrible time. The cat’s health has deteriorated since. Her vet has put him on methimazole for his thyroid and we are wondering if this is an insulin problem. She has spent tons of money at the vet since, and no results.
Her cat’s eating habits are poor. He also is not able to use the litter box like he had at one time. What would be your suggestions for her cat? She went today to the vet to find out that the insulin has been recalled. She is concerned that the health of her cat has already been jeopardized. Thank you for your time!
Yes it is an insulin problem because the Vetsulin which has been recalled is not working. You need to ask your vet for a prescription for DNA insulin like NPH available at most pharmacies including Walmart for ~$28.00 a bottle.
I would try to do this ASAP-today if possible. Should you need help with dosing or learning how to regulate and monitor your cats insulin levels, please call my office toll free at 1-866-372-2765.
I have bee using Vetsulin for almost 4 years with no problem. I have spoken to my vet about issues with Vetsulin and he has talked to manufacturer and feels for now it’s still o.k. But I had a life threatening episode last week. I started a new bottle of Vetsulin and after 2 shots Purrkins wouldn’t eat and was lethargic
We stopped using that bottle of Vetsulin and they started a new one. He’s fine now but it was close. I brought him home and got him eating again.It seems that that bottle might well have been the culprit. He’s not had problems in almost 4 years so it really scared me.