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A blood-monitoring device just for pets

Dogs and cats get diabetes too. Now, Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories has come out with a product aimed at helping the afflicted pets--the AlphaTrak, a handheld blood glucose monitoring system designed specifically for diabetic cats and dogs. The device allows veterinarians and pet owners to test pets' blood sugar rapidly, conveniently and accurately using a small blood sample.

Credit: Brian C. Morrison/PRNewsFoto
Morgan, a golden retriever, has her blood
tested with the Abbott AlphaTrak.

Until now, handheld blood glucose meters designed for humans were commonly used to test the blood glucose levels of pets outside of the laboratory. But due to physiological differences between human and animal blood, these meters can provide inaccurate information when measuring blood glucose levels in cats and dogs, says Abbott.

As many as one in every 200 dogs and one in every 400 cats suffer from diabetes mellitus, according to Abbott, which displayed the AlphaTrak on Tuesday at the 78th Annual Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas. Like humans, these animals are susceptible to both Type I diabetes, or the inability to produce insulin, and Type II diabetes, an insensitivity to insulin. Type I is more prevalent among dogs and Type II is more common in cats, but regardless of type, pets with these diseases typically require daily injections of insulin to metabolize dietary glucose.

Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, is one of the biggest health risks facing diabetic pets, said Dr. Susan Sallee, a veterinarian at Grayslake Animal Hospital in Grayslake, Ill., one of the participating AlphaTrak clinical trial sites. "Determining your diabetic pets' blood glucose profile is a common way to gauge the effects of insulin treatment, diet, and exercise," she said. "However, these factors are constantly fluctuating in a pet, making accurate blood glucose monitoring absolutely essential."