Why Is My Dog Or Cat’s Blood Insulin Level Low Or High?

Ron Hines DVM PhD

To see what normal blood and urine values are, go here

For an explanation of causes of most abnormal blood and urine tests, go here

To see how tests are grouped, go here

Your Pet’s Blood Insulin Level

Veterinarians rarely if ever order this test; so I cannot tell you how it snuck into my DxMe “to do” working list other than that many of my laboratory information sources concern humans as well as veterinary medicine.

Instead, we veterinarians infer what your pet’s insulin level probably is by tracking the dog or cat’s blood glucose level. But if a  veterinarian did run a blood insulin level test, it would probably be because he/she was worried about diabetes or unexplained hypoglycemia in your pet . It might also be helpful in judging the degree of insulin resistance in dogs or cats that have failed to respond to typical therapeutic doses of injectable insulin.

Insulin is the hormone your pet’s pancreas secretes in response to eating, elevated blood sugar or the release of certain hormones (e.g. glucagon, growth hormone or adrenaline). Insulin is necessary for your pet’s blood sugar to be utilized. Without enough insulin, too much sugar will be present in your pet’s blood.

Reason’s Why Your Dog Or Cat’s Blood Insulin Levels Might Be High:

Insulin injections, Cushing’s disease, Oral or injectable corticosteroid injections, acromegaly/excess growth hormone (a disease of the pituitary gland – generally a tumor or pre-tumorous state most common in cats), or high insulin resistance could all increase blood insulin levels. Excessive insulin release from the pancreas due to an insulinoma tumor will also cause abnormally high insulin levels. Although this could occur in dogs and cats, it most often occurs in pet ferrets.  

Reasons Why Your Dog Or Cat’s Blood Insulin Level Might Be Low:

Uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes and fasting should both result in lower than normal insulin levels.

Complementary Tests:

Blood glucose level , fructosamine test, plotted blood glucose curves, C-peptide, Pro-insulin levels,  ACTH stimulation test for Cushing’s disease


You are on the Vetspace animal health website