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How to Give a Dog Insulin Shots

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Insulin

  • Syringe

  • Human assistant

If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with diabetes, he may prescribe insulin to keep your pet’s blood sugar levels stable. This injectable insulin takes the place of the insulin your dog's pancreas is failing to produce, which restores his ability to metabolize food properly. By learning to perform the procedure quickly and easily, you can minimize the stress for your best friend.

Preparing the Injection

Roll the vial of insulin back and forth in your hands to ensure that it is mixed well. Do not shake the vial, as this may cause air bubbles to form, which can complicate accurate measurements.

Ask your assistant to help you by gently restraining your dog while you draw insulin into the syringe. Your assistant should try to keep the dog calm by petting him slowly and with a light touch.

Remove the cap from the syringe and insert the needle into the vial.

Inject a small amount of air into the bottle, keeping the bottle tilted at an upward angle, to prevent a vacuum from forming when you begin to remove some of the insulin.

Draw back on the syringe slowly until the desired amount of insulin is in the syringe. Always measure the amount of insulin by noting the marks that line up with the distal end of the syringe plunger, not the proximal side of the plunger.

Look at the syringe to see if any air bubbles were trapped inside while you were filling it. If so, draw twice the amount of insulin you need, tilt the syringe so that the needle is pointing at an upward angle and tap lightly on the syringe. Once the bubbles have moved to the top of the syringe, gently depress the plunger until the air bubbles are all out. Empty the syringe of any excess insulin and ensure that you have the proper amount in the syringe before continuing.

Giving the Injection

Approach the dog and grasp a handful of skin from the “scruff” region at the back of his neck.

Insert the needle into the skin, while keeping it parallel with the dog’s spine. Alternatively, you can hold the needle at a slight upward angle. Be sure that the needle penetrates the first layer of skin, but does not penetrate the second layer. If this happens, the insulin will come out of the needle and end up on the floor or your pup’s fur. Be careful not to stick your finger.

Depress the plunger once you are certain the needle is in the right location.

Remove the needle and replace the cap after you have injected all of the medication.

Praise your dog for being calm and patient, and then allow him to go about his daily routine.


  • Always use a syringe that is designed for the Insulin concentration your veterinarian prescribed. Vary the injection site slightly each day to keep from causing a wound.