As I’ve recently explained, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are true game-changers for managing diabetes in dogs and cats. They are meaningful improvements on traditional glucometers in two distinct ways: (1) they don’t require blood draws and (2) they measure glucose continuously, not at a single moment in time. Easier, less stressful, and much more informative. What’s not to love?
Well, for one, canine-specific CGMs don’t yet exist. So if you want to use one with your dog, you’re going to need to talk a doctor or veterinarian into prescribing a human-use device for off-label use. Then you’re going to need to pick up a few other items that’ll be necessary for canine use. And, last but not least, you’re going to go through a bit of a process getting it all up and running.
And that’s where I come in. I’ve recently overcome all these obstacles and lived to tell the tale. Which is precisely what I intend to do here. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the entire process of procuring and using a CGM with your dog. As you’ll see, it really boils down to just a few key steps. And I promise you that the results are very much worth the effort.
Step One: Choose the Right Device
As of writing, at least three different CGMs have been FDA approved for use with human subjects: the Dexcom G6, the Eversense, and the Freestyle Libre II.
A 2018 study found that all three devices were quite accurate when used with human subjects, although the Dexcom performed somewhat better than the others. The other strengths of weaknesses of the three devices were also evaluated here.
Crucially, to my knowledge the Freestyle Libre is the only device that has been systematically tested with dogs, as opposed to people. (Here’s a link to the 2016 study in which researchers from the University of Bologna found the Libre to obtain accurate glucose measurements in dogs.) So, in my eyes, that’s the best choice for diabetic pet parents, at least for now.
Step Two: Get a Prescription From Your Doctor or Veterinarian.
While studies show that human-use CGMs measure canine glucose levels accurately, at this point the devices have only been approved by the FDA for use with people, not with dogs. And, because they’re medical devices, they’re only available with a prescription.