How to Administer Insulin to a Dog

Your dog's veterinarian will determine the insulin dosage he needs.
veterinarian with dog image by Jaimie Duplass from

Diabetes occurs in dogs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin. Symptoms include dehydration, appetite loss or increased appetite, lethargy, frequent urination and excessive weight loss. Insulin injections help to reduce glucose production and allow excess blood glucose to pass into the body's cells, eliminating or decreasing symptoms and increasing your dog's chances of living a long and healthy life. Giving insulin injections can be challenging at first, but with enough practice, administering your dog's insulin shots will become a relatively stress-free part of daily life.

Step 1

Ask your veterinarian to show you the proper injection technique, and make sure you write down the proper dosage. Your vet can help you practice on a dummy in her office. Don't be afraid to ask questions or practice as many times as necessary. Insulin injection procedures can take a while to learn. Follow your veterinarian's injection recommendations precisely.

Step 2

Store the insulin in the refrigerator. When it's time to administer insulin, turn the bottle upside down and stick the syringe needle into the bottle. Pull the stopper back slightly, then flush the insulin back in to remove air bubbles. Pull in the amount of insulin recommended by your vet. Rub the syringe between the palms of your hands to warm the insulin, which makes the injection less painful for your dog. Tap or flick the syringe gently to remove air bubbles.

Step 3

Squeeze your dog's skin at the injection site you have selected to produce a small triangle of skin. Push the needle into the fold of skin so that the needle is almost parallel with the fold.

Step 4

Pull the plunger back. If you see blood, you've hit a vein. Change the location of the injection. If you see no blood, proceed with the injection. Slowly and steadily press down the plunger to inject the insulin.

Step 5

Give your dog a treat after every injection. This decreases fear and helps him to develop a positive association with injections. Never yell at your dog during his injections.


  • If your dog escapes and you're not sure you got all of the insulin in, call your vet. Never give a second injection.

  • Don't give your dog insulin unless advised by your veterinarian.


  • A dog crate or harness can help you keep your dog still during insulin injections.

Items You Will Need

  • Insulin
  • Syringe
  • Dog treats


  • The Merck Veterinary Manual; Cynthia M. Kahn
  • The Merck/Meria Manual for Pet Health; Joseph Lee Hollander et al.
  • Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook; Delbert G. Carlson et al.

About the Author

Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.

Photo Credits

  • veterinarian with dog image by Jaimie Duplass from