Regulating Feline Diabetes with Lantus: Glargine Insulin for Cats

Glargine insulin, or Lantus, is an increasingly popular method for managing diabetes in felines. Diabetes mellitus, known commonly as type II or sugar diabetes, is a serious disease affecting a growing number of cats. It can develop when the pancreas stops producing enough insulin, the hormone responsible for controlling the amount of blood sugar in the body. The resulting high glucose levels can lead to complications like damaged kidneys, muscles and nerves. Without treatment, diabetic felines are also susceptible to organ failure and death.

Lantus injections may help regulate the disease by lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic cats. Learning more about how this product works, including precautions and guidelines for its use, can help cat owners select the right treatment method for their diabetic pet.

How Does Lantus Work?

Lantus (sometimes misspelled "Lantis") is a synthetic or analog insulin manufactured by Sanofi-Aventis. Like other kinds of injectable insulin, it provides the body with the hormones necessary to help lower the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Lantus releases insulin slowly in the body, which helps minimize the number of injections required to maintain healthy glucose levels. Its long-lasting effects have helped make it an increasingly preferred method for managing feline diabetes, since cats metabolize insulin around twice as fast as people. Lantus typically remains active in cats for around 12 hours per dose, which may require owners to administer the medicine twice a day. Owners should always consult with a veterinarian regarding specific dosage recommendations and instructions. Although the product is not FDA-approved for feline use, it may be available by prescription from a veterinarian.

Unlike some older insulin products, the active ingredient in Lantus, glargine insulin, is not derived from animal-based materials. The clear liquid medication is often prescribed in 10 mL vials intended for use with syringes. Lantus is also available in 3 mL doses contained inside insulin pen cartridges. These reusable devices feature disposable needles and are sometimes favored for their size and convenience.

Guidelines for Using Lantus

To help maintain its safety and effectiveness, Lantus should always be refrigerated after use. The product should not be mixed with other types of insulin or medication. Before prescribing Lantus, a veterinarian may require a complete physical exam, blood tests and other screenings. Cats will vary in their response to Lantus, so finding the right dose may take time. Both owner and cat might also need to adjust to daily insulin therapy. Generally, a veterinarian can advise on the best way to administer the injections, and provide advice on monitoring a diabetic cat's blood sugar levels from home. Owners may also be instructed to feed their pets a low-carbohydrate diet in conjunction with Lantus. 

Lantus Side Effects and Precautions

Although Lantus is generally regarded as safe and well-tolerated by most cats, some side effects have been associated with the drug, such as:

  • Skin irritation or thickening at injection site.
  • Signs of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, like shaking, cool or pale skin and anxious behavior. 

Signs of allergic reactions to Lantus, like hives, breathing difficulties, facial, tongue or lip swelling, may require prompt medical attention and should be reported immediately.