Dog Owners

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to many of the questions pet owners have about canine diabetes, and at home treatment with PROZINC® (protamine zinc recombinant human insulin).

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Canine Diabetes

Diabetes mellitus occurs when a dog’s body isn’t producing enough insulin or stops responding appropriately to insulin. Most often, dogs are diagnosed with Type I diabetes, meaning their insulin levels are too low. This leads to hyperglycemia, or blood glucose levels that are too high. The most common signs of canine diabetes are increased thirst, urination and appetite, as well as weight loss despite increased food intake.

Unfortunately, no. However, with appropriate management and insulin therapy, diabetic dogs can live for many years and enjoy a good quality of life.

The most common signs of canine diabetes are increased thirst, appetite and urination, as well as weight loss despite increased food intake. Affected dogs may have urinary accidents in the house, visit/empty their water bowls more frequently, or seem hungry more often than normal.

Often, if a dog’s blood glucose is persistently elevated (as with uncontrolled diabetes), he/she will experience hyperglycemia. Signs of hyperglycemia include increased thirst, urination and appetite.

If your dog's glucose level drops too low, your dog may exhibit signs  of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). These include lethargy, sluggishness, trembling and seizures. Hypoglycemia with clinical signs is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary intervention. 

If your dog is experiencing hyperglycemia, it means his/her blood glucose level is too high. After blood glucose levels stabilize with treatment, monitoring may still be recommended.

Signs associated with persistent hyperglycemia:

  • Excessive thirst

  • Excessive urination

  • Increased appetite

  • Lethargy

To help avoid hyperglycemia, maintain a routine. Be consistent with your dog’s feeding and moderate exercise and give PROZINC injections at the same time each day.

If you suspect hyperglycemia, contact your veterinarian right away.

If your dog is experiencing hypoglycemia, it means his/her blood glucose level is too low. Hypoglycemia may be dangerous and potentially life threatening. It can occur if your dog has received too much insulin, hasn’t eaten enough food, and/or has exercised more than usual. Educating yourself about hypoglycemia is the first step to avoiding it.

Signs  of hypoglycemia include:

  • Weakness

  • Depression

  • Staggering or trouble walking

  • Unusual behavior

  • Muscle twitching

  • Seizure

  • Coma

To avoid hypoglycemia, be sure to give your dog the correct dose of PROZINC, stick to a feeding and treatment schedule and visit your veterinarian regularly to monitor treatment progress.

If you suspect hypoglycemia, don’t panic. Here’s what you can do:

  • If your dog is unconscious or having a seizure, this is a medical emergency. Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

  • If your dog is conscious, rub 1 tablespoonful of corn syrup or honey on your dog’s gums. When he/she can swallow, give corn syrup or honey until your dog is alert enough to eat. Feed the usual meal and contact your veterinarian.

Remember that once you see the signs of hypoglycemia, it is a medical emergency that requires immediate action.

PROZINC

PROZINC is a sterile aqueous suspension of protamine zinc recombinant human insulin that is FDA approved for reducing hyperglycemia and associated clinical signs in dogs with diabetes mellitus.

PROZINC, like any other insulin, helps regulate cellular metabolism, in part by facilitating glucose uptake into cells of the heart, bone and fat tissue, and helping these cells and other cells in the body use glucose for energy.1

Visit our How PROZINC Helps page to learn more.

PROZINC is the only FDA-approved recombinant human insulin for use in dogs with diabetes. Because of PROZINC’s duration of activity, once-daily dosing provides adequate control for most dogs. Extensive studies have demonstrated PROZINC’s safety and effectiveness in managing canine diabetes.2

Learn more about PROZINC.

PROZINC should be given with or right after a meal. Before administration, mix PROZINC by gently rolling the vial. After mixing, use a U-40 syringe to draw up the dose of insulin prescribed by your veterinarian. Administer the injection under the skin along the back of the neck or on the side of the dog.1

NOTE: It is important that you roll the vial and not shake it. Shaking the vial may undermine the effectiveness of the insulin.

Watch our step-by-step videos on administering PROZINC to dogs.

PROZINC is supplied as a sterile injectable suspension in both 10 mL and 20 mL multidose vials. Each mL of PROZINC product contains 40 IU (international units) of recombinant human insulin.

Store PROZINC in an upright position in the refrigerator at 36-46 degrees F (2-8 degrees C). Do not freeze it and protect it from light.1

PROZINC is a suspension and once mixed has a whitish cloudy appearance. If discoloration or other abnormal appearances are observed, it may indicate contamination within the vial, and it should be discarded.

PROZINC carries a two-year shelf life from the date of manufacture. Use the 10 mL vial within 60 days of first puncture. Use the 20 mL vial within 80 days of first puncture.

Use of a syringe other than a U-40 syringe may result in incorrect dosing. Read our Safety and Dosing information to learn more.

Dog owners should contact their regular veterinarian. Veterinarians and veterinary professionals are encouraged to call Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinary Technical Support Team (VeTS) at 1-866-638-2226 for product inquiries. 

To report a suspected adverse reaction associated with PROZINC, please call 1-866-638-2226.

The safety and effectiveness of PROZINC insulin in puppies and in breeding, pregnant and lactating dogs has not been evaluated.1

Accidental injection may cause hypoglycemia. In case of accidental injection, seek medical attention immediately. Exposure to product may induce a local or systemic allergic reaction in sensitized individuals. 

Treatment

PROZINC, like other drugs, may cause side effects. Serious side effects can occur with or without warning. 

Please contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog has a medical problem or side effect from PROZINC therapy. 

The most common insulin-related side effect is low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can occur suddenly and may include: 

  • Weakness 
  • Staggering gait 
  • Muscle twitching 
  • Coma
  • Depression, lethargy, sluggishness 
  • Behavioral changes 
  • Seizures, convulsions
  • Death

As with any medication, you should administer PROZINC as prescribed by your veterinarian.

It is recommended that PROZINC be administered once daily. However, some dogs require twice-daily dosing 12 hours apart. Do not attempt to adjust your dog’s dosage without your veterinarian’s supervision.

Each dog will respond differently but based on the results of a field effectiveness study, 72% of the dogs enrolled in the study were considered a treatment success by 84 days.4

Obese diabetic dogs may benefit from weight loss, and dogs that have lost weight due to diabetes may benefit from weight gain. Diet and exercise goals should be tailored to the needs of the patient. Your veterinarian should recommend a diet and exercise plan based on your dog’s needs.

Ultimately, your veterinarian should determine your dog’s treatment, and will recommend the right diet and exercise plan for your pet.

Important User Safety Information: For use in dogs and cats only. Keep out of the reach of children. Avoid contact with eyes. In case of contact, immediately flush eyes with running water for at least 15 minutes. Accidental injection may cause hypoglycemia. In case of accidental injection, seek medical attention immediately. Exposure to product may induce a local or systemic allergic reaction in sensitized individuals

1 Plumb DC. Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook. 5th ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell;   2005:749-758.

2 PROZINC dog product insert.

3 PROZINC®(protamine zinc recombinant human insulin) [Freedom of Information Summary]. St. Joseph, MO: Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc; 2009. 

4 PROZINC®(protamine zinc recombinant human insulin) [Freedom of Information Summary]. Duluth, GA: Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health USA Inc; 2019.