Caninsulin Shortage

veterinary news

It came to my attention today that there is a shortage of Caninsulin in Canada.  CaninsulinCaninsulin is a type of insulin that is made for dogs.  However, a lot of cats are on this insulin as well.  It is the exact same insulin as Vetsulin which was previously available in the United States.  Earlier this year we learned that Vetsulin was no longer going to be available in the US.  You can read about this problem here:  Vetsulin shortage.

Vetsulin vs. Caninsulin

I have never understood why Vetsulin would be discontinued in the US and Caninsulin would still be allowed to be sold in Canada.  They are the same product.  When Vetsulin was discontinued it was because the insulin was not believed to be stable.  As a result, pets who were on Vetsulin ran the risk of their diabetes not being well controlled.

I have been suspicious all along that the problem affected Caninsulin as well.  I have noticed over the last few years that many of my patients on Caninsulin were needing higher and higher amounts of insulin in order to remain stable.  Because of my suspicion, I’ve transitioned a lot of my patients to another type of insulin.  I don’t prescribe Caninsulin any more when I am starting a newly diagnosed diabetic dog or cat on insulin.  For most dogs I will use NPH insulin (see below) and for cats I am very impressed with Glargine (Lantus) insulin.  I have had a number of cats revert to being non-diabetic after several months of Glargine insulin.

Is Caninsulin coming back?

I’ve heard reports that Caninsulin is only on temporary backorder and will be back in mid November, but so far I can’t confirm anything.  When I look back at my post on the Vetsulin shortage I see that the manufacturer had promised it was coming back to the market, but it never did!

The Caninsulin Website doesn’t give us any further information.  There is no mention of the shortage.

Alternatives to Caninsulin

If your pet is on Caninsulin, my advice would be to talk to your vet about switching to a different type of insulin.  If you are going to switch insulin types it is extremely important to do this on the advice of your vet.  Do not attempt to do this without veterinary supervision.

There are several alternatives to Caninsulin:NPH Insulin

  • NPH Insulin:  My preference for insulin in dogs is NPH insulin.  This product is available from a human pharmacy.  In many cases, no prescription is needed.  However, I would advise getting a prescription from your vet just to be sure that you are getting the right dosage.  This is a human product and as such you will find that it is much cheaper than Caninsulin.
  • NPH/Regular Insulin (Humulin):  This is a mixture of short and intermediate acting insulins and is actually quite similar to Caninsulin.  It is available without a prescription at a human pharmacy and is less expensive than Caninsulin.
  • Detemir Insulin (Levemir, Novo Nordisk):  This is a newer type of insulin that is similar to Glargine (Lantus).  The difference is that Detemir works much better for dogs than it does for cats.  While it tends to work well in dogs it is more expensive than most insulins.

How to start on a new insulin:

I can’t stress enough how important it is to speak to your vet to learn how to transition to a new insulin.  What we generally tend to do is  start over as if this is the first time the pet is receiving insulin.  I will usually start the dog on a low dose that I know is extremely unlikely to be too much insulin.  (This means that there may be a period of time where your dog has a recurrence of the symptoms of drinking and urinating too much.)  Then, after a week or so I like to do a glucose curve.  I will usually give my clients the choice of doing the curve in the clinic or learning how to do it at home.  Once I see how the dog is responding to the new insulin, then I know how much to increase the dose of insulin.  Often there will need to be several glucose curves done before we are satisfied that we have the correct dose of insulin.
Letter about caninsulin

New information: November 19th, 2011:

I just received the following letter in my office. (See photo on left and click to enlarge.) The letter is from Merck, the makers of Caninsulin. It states that there was a period of time where Caninsulin was not being manufactured but that it is now available again. They also sent us some information on how to transition to another insulin if need be.

I find this interesting. Why would a company encourage vets to transition to a different product? My guess is that eventually they will stop making Caninsulin. They may be preparing us for this. But, time will tell!

Have you been affected?

Was your pet on Caninsulin?  Have you been affected by the shortage?  I’d love to hear how this has affected you and your pet.  Please leave a comment below.

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Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie is a veterinarian treating dogs, cats, and pocket pets. Click here to ask Dr. Marie a question.

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5 Responses to "Caninsulin Shortage"

  1. Kelly Hill says:

    Hi Dr. Marie,

    Our 11 yr old Lab x was diagnosed almost a year ago with diabetes and we have been struggling with finding the correct dosage. At about 22cc he seemed to be leveling off which just happened a couple of months ago and then the caninsulin back order. urgh!

    Now that I’ve read your article I’m wondering if the amounts we needed to deliver to Gatsby may have needed to be increased on a regular basis due to the instability of the meds.

    He is currently on a human insulin (type I don’t have with me right now) it, of course is not the right dose and we are back to square one (good thing we bought a steam cleaner).

    I’m going to bring this article up to my vet today and discuss the alternative NPH insulin you mention.

    I’m thrilled my google search found this article and if you have a news letter I would love to be added!

    Thank you,


  2. Kate Brown says:

    Thank you very much for your article. My dog is on Caninsulin and we are quickly running out. Only one veterinarian office, from out of town, is keeping in touch with me regarding the shortage situation, but without any real explanation of why there is a shortage. I will ask about the products that you have mentioned. Kate

  3. Rhoda Bowman says:

    My dog Radar just got diagnosed with diabetes and we had just got him settled on 7cc of insulin when we could no longer get Caninsulin. Our vet switched him to Humulin and we started over with the blood testing. We had only given him a few doses when the Caninsulin became available again. So we were switched back to Caninsulin, leaing me with almost a full bottle of Humulin and more charges to get him regulated again. I asked if we should not keep him on the Humulin, but our vet said “No”. So now he is regulated and we are giving him 9cc of Caninsulin. After reading this, I am wondering if we should not have stayed with the Humullin. I hope we do not have to keep uping the insulin dose. Also, this whole fiasco may have caused Radar to develop cataracts, as shortly after all this happened, he developed them. We do not live anywhere near a Vet Othmalogist, so to get the cataracts removed, we will have to travel a distance. We almost lost him when we left him at the vets testing for diabetes because he got so upset, he refused to eat. So I am worried about having to leave him again.

    1. Michelle says:

      Please, please, test your dog at home. I know some vets don’t think we have the capacity to do it(I know my previous vet was one of those) but it is easy to do. Having the vets office do it heightens the tension and stress in the dog which skews the results of the curve anyway so most vets do suggest home testing. It also can allow you to test just the post-prandial numbers on a regular basis without the high vet bills and discomfort for your baby.

  4. Michelle says:

    I too have a diabetic dog on Caninsulin and am experiencing higher BG numbers with her. She has been on it for a year now and has had such a hard time of it not just from the diabetes but also from the vets. We have had to switch vets twice already based on inferior care (unfortunately not before the last one cost her her eyes)and are now experiencing a resistance to the problem being Caninsulin as they have had no other complaints. Of course, what they don’t tell you is how many other pets in their care are diabetic…I will be printing this page and bringing it in to vet’s office.
    I am torn between this being the problem and quite possibly a problem due to the irradiated chicken treats we were giving her.

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