How to Give a Dog Insulin Shots

Some dogs need insulin injections to treat diabetes.
dog face image by KateC from

Diabetes affects dogs, as well as humans. Though it is more common in females, it can occur in either gender at any age. Diabetes, an insufficient production of insulin or the inability of your dog to use the insulin his body creates, causes elevated levels of glucose in your dog's blood and urine. After diabetes is diagnosed, you will need to collaborate with your veterinarian to monitor and regulate your dog's glucose levels. The treatment plan may include you giving your dog insulin shots once or twice a day.

Step 1

Wash your hands before preparing to give your dog an insulin shot. Check the expiration date on the bottle of insulin. If the insulin is expired, do not use it.

Step 2

Let the insulin warm to room temperature. Cold insulin may contain crystals that can be painful when injected. Roll the bottle gently between your palms to warm the insulin; do not shake it.

Step 3

Remove the lid from the insulin bottle and use an alcohol swab to wipe the top.

Step 4

Choose a new insulin syringe and remove the cap from the needle. Pull back on the syringe plunger until you reach the desired dosage. Read the numbers on the syringe at the point where the black plunger tip touches a measured increment line.

Step 5

Hold the bottle of insulin in your non-dominant hand and the syringe in your dominant hand. Insert the needle through the rubber top of the insulin bottle at a 90-degree angle and press the plunger to inject the air into the bottle. Leave the needle in the bottle.

Step 6

Keeping your hands in the same position, turn the insulin bottle and the syringe upside down and draw the correct dosage of insulin into the syringe. If air bubbles appear in the syringe, tap the syringe gently to force air toward the needle and inject them back into the insulin bottle. You may need to draw up a larger amount of insulin in order to expel the bubbles and arrive at the correct dosage. Continue to draw up the correct dosage without bubbles by making sure the tip of the needle is submersed within the insulin solution and not within the air pocket inside the bottle.

Step 7

Remove the needle from the bottle. Make sure you do not touch the needle to the outside of the insulin bottle or any other object. If the needle touches any surface before injection, discard the filled syringe and draw up a new dosage with a new syringe.

Step 8

Grasp the loose skin between your dog's shoulders and lift it gently to form a small tent. Insert the needle through your dog's skin into the tent area, parallel to his body. Draw back on the syringe plunger. If you get air or blood, you have not positioned the needle correctly and need to reposition the syringe.

Step 9

Depress the syringe plunger to inject the insulin. If the plunger is difficult to push, reposition the needle to accomplish a smooth injection. Remove the syringe and release your grip on the shoulder area. Always give insulin in the shoulder area but not at the exact same spot each time, or scar tissue will form.

Step 10

Place the syringe in the sharps container without replacing the cap. Use a new syringe for each injection.


  • If your dog vomits his meal, contact your veterinarian for a possible change in his insulin dosage.

  • Do not change brands of insulin without consulting your veterinarian.

  • Do not give insulin to your pet if he seems depressed, vomits, has seizures or won't wake up. Call your veterinarian.


  • Give the insulin to your dog at the same time each day and feed your dog his prescribed diet at the same time each day. Do not give him treats or extra meals.

  • If you miss giving your dog his dose of insulin, call your veterinarian for medical advice. Also talk to your veterinarian before increasing your dog's physical exercise.

Items You Will Need

  • Insulin
  • Insulin syringe
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Sharps container


About the Author

Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.

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