AlphaTrak vs Human Glucose Meter – Part I

The debate between using a human meter vs the AlphaTrak has been floating around the internet for a while now. Most of the theories I’ve read about is the dog/cat meters just cost more due to the fact that the meter is for a dog/cat (just a marketing ploy). But I’ve never seen any hard evidence that proves a human meter works just as well as the AlphaTrak for testing glucose levels on a dog.

As recommended by my Vet I’ve always used the AlphaTrak. As an inexpensive way of testing glucose levels for patients they tried several human meters before the AlphaTrak came out. The human meters all provided a rough accuracy but not the accuracy of the AlphaTrak.

To get to the bottom of this debate and see if human meters do stand up to the AlphaTrak I’ll be conducting tests and write a series of article over the next coming months. My friends over at American Diabetes Wholesale have sent me four meters to start testing with. FreeStyle Lite (made by Abbott, same as the AlphaTrak), Glucocard Vital, Nova Max Link, and Bayer Contour.

Unboxing and Reviewing.
After reading the instructions and testing out each meter, all of them pretty much function the same way. The test strip is inserted into the meter, meter turns on, blood sample is applied to the test strip, and then wait for results. All measurements are done in mg/dl. Some have advanced features such as downloadable results, meal timers, and more but I won’t be going into any of that.

Initial Results
I was able to do an all day test of Bender with the AlphaTrak and FreeStyle Lite. Here are the results.
AlphaTrak Vs FreeStyle Lite 1.11.2011

These results don’t tell the whole story. This is the first test and I was only able to test 5 times. With that in mind… Looking at the results the FreeStyle lite is off by roughly 50-75 points at these numbers. But what about higher numbers? or really low numbers?

You will also see I’m missing a few things. I wasn’t able to get enough blood from Bender after exercising him to test both the AlphaTrak and FreeStyle Lite. I try not to lance Bender too much, and after several tries I just stop. Especially since I only lance his ears. Which is why there isn’t a reading at 6:00pm when I feed Bender. I couldn’t get any blood out of him.

I will continue to test Bender over the coming months with all the meters vs my AlphaTrak and post the results. In the mean time if you have any results for the AlphaTrak vs other meters please share them.

62 Responses to “AlphaTrak vs Human Glucose Meter – Part I”

  1. P.s… I do have the alpha monitor…. I hadn’t used it too much up until the last few weeks, but anytime I feel the need to use it, I do the control test and usually very soon after, I take it to the vets office and have them compare to their reading in her. They are usually very close to the same. As we all know, it appears they will never be right on with each other…

  2. Jeff Mendelsohn

    Karen,

    I still monitor this blog. Just been too busy to post. :o(

    First, what food are you feeding Jodi? Do you exercise Jodi at all? Is she overweight?

    A few things from my experiences. Bender’s glucose levels fluctuate depending on a lot of things such as exercise, weather, his health. One day he was in the 400’s. Nothing changed. I was running him 3 miles, same amount of food. I upped his insulin. After a few days he was crashing and I had to lower his insulin.

    I’ve also had, I wouldn’t say bad insulin but maybe not as potent. I’m having to up his insulin but as soon as I open a new bottle, he crashes and I need to drop insulin amounts again.

    As for the loss of sight. I couldn’t say, I’m not a vet. But most dogs with age, lose their sight.

  3. I have a 7 year old pug/mini pinscher mix. She was diagnosed with diabetes a year ago and has been on a sliding scale of NPH insulin. Her sugars were good to begin with, but then slowly went higher and higher. The Vet kept changing her sliding scale, the dog would do better, then the highs would start again. I FINALLY got the vet to add Regular insulin to her sliding scale about three weeks ago and her numbers have vastly improved. Now she is much better. She also eats Orijen Adult and loves it.

  4. Lauren Hoshoian

    My 9 year old Mini Schnauzer has recently been diagnosed with Diabetes, so much to learn!! 3 weeks into it, he is still not regulated, his blood sugar levels are up and down all over the place. just changed his dosage to 6 units and will curve hime in a week to see if he is levelling off. Our Vet (in Canada) says “no need to buy monitor” as once he is regulated we only need to check him every 3 months or so????? We will travel to Florida this winter for a couple of months and will order the Alpha Track 2 while there…Do I need a prescription in the US. Did you do a Part II or Part III to the Glucose Monitor testing…I would love to read it.

  5. Jeff Mendelsohn

    Lauren,

    You don’t need a prescription to buy an AlphaTrak 2. In fact you don’t need a prescription in the US to buy insulin.

    As for your Vet saying you don’t need a monitor and that your dog only needs to be checked every 3 months, I don’t believe that is correct. From personal experience, being able to check your dog’s glucose levels at home can help you keep them regulated even better and will save you a lot of money.

    Glucose levels can change drastically depending on the amount of exercise, food intake, and other factors such as stress. Depending on the dog, you might need to adjust insulin levels every day, every week, or every month.

    Being able to test at home will also help you understand your dog’s diabetes better. You will know when he peaks, when he is low, You will be able to figure out what his normal glucose cycle is.

    -Jeff

  6. Matt B

    First for those of you using human meters, you will not get a good reading. Though Abbott Labs makes the AlphaTrak2 Meter and Strips for animals they sure don’t offer any good pricing for the strips. Way overpriced and really no reason for it as they are basic strips used in a meter that uses manual coding. For those of you who test the blood from the dog’s ear it is much easier to bend up his/her lip and quickly lance there and take the reading. Mouth injuries heal much faster than skin and you are always assured of getting a reading the first time thus saving your pet a wee bit of pain. One trick to sometimes getting the strips for less is to look for a sale on the starter package that includes a new meter, bottle of strips and lances. Sometimes it is cheaper to just buy a new kit. For FREE Shipping all the time and a decent price always look at the pricing on Amazon.com. Again, at least the shipping is free which is not the case in so many places….. I have also been told but have not yet tried using freestyle strips in the AlphaTrak meter. The strip appear identical and since the AlphaTrak meter is manually coded any coding on the strip will be ignored. It really is a sin that those who make pet strips overcharge for them.

  7. Tracey Sepulvado

    I have a 45# healer mix that is newly diagnosed. Like around 24 hours ago.. Just starting my research. He stayed overnight for iv fluids and a “curve” was told his glucose was <250 prior to coming home but this afternoon it has been around 400. Vets office closed at noon and my dog is acting fine. The meter I am using at home is actually a human model. Any tips would be helpful.

  8. Jeff Mendelsohn

    Tracey,

    Take some time to read through my blog and every one’s comments. It has a lot of good information.

    In short the key is getting your dog on a schedule with proper food and exercise. Find a high protein, low fat, no filler (corn, white rice), with zero to no added preservatives food. Such as Wellness Core Grain free reduced fat. There are a lot of other foods out there that are similar, find one that works. Stay Away from Hill’s Science Diet W/D. Although your Vet will recommend it, it is terrible for diabetics. First ingredient: Corn = sugar. You will never get your dog regulated on it. Cut out people food and find some diabetic friendly treats.

    If your dog can exercise, that will help keep diabetes regulated. Daily structured exercise is the best. Like a 1-3 mile walk or run 1-2 times every day.

    I would suggest getting an AlphaTrak II for home testing. Your dog’s insulin needs will change. Depending on the dog, insulin needs might change daily or weekly. A human model meter will never be right for a dog. I’ve tried more than a few models and none are accurate.

    The key is figuring out what works for you and your dog. And as always consult your Vet.

    Feel free to ask any questions.

    -Jeff

  9. Maria A.

    We are using an AlphaTrak 2 monitor and I’m baffled as to what the dog setting is supposed to be on it. The strips’ container has the number 91 on it, so should that be the code setting for when we test our Corgi’s blood? Or should it be more like 14 or 19? In the booklet, they keep using 19 as their example setting and I am very concerned that we may be getting wrong readings because the code is not set properly.
    Any help you can give would be appreciated, since I have checked the booklets that came with our meter, watched the DVD and even watched their info video online trying to get an accurate sense of what his code setting should be.

  10. Gina Oliver

    What do you consider people food to be? I read many dog food labels and decided making my dog’s food was a great idea. The cans had chicken, peas, carrots, potatoes, oates, all people food…I eat all that food. So what do you consider people food? Seems like the only differences is bone meal.

  11. Jeff Mendelsohn

    Gina,

    I would advise against making your own dog food. Besides the time involved to make the meals and the cost. You need to make sure to create a meal that is good for the dog, that has all the nutrition it needs which is difficult to do without the use of supplements. I would talk to your Vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet.

    People food is any thing edible that we have processed in any way that changes the state of the food to be less healthy or to make it more palatable for our tastes. Examples: plain grilled chicken OK, marinaded then grilled chicken, bad, people food. Breaded and Deep Fried chicken, bad, people food. Fresh peas, Ok, frozen peas, Ok, Peas with salt, pepper and butter, bad. Other examples include processed products like microwave meals, crackers, french fries, and fast food.

    If you do end up making your own food after consulting with your Vet, yes you will technically use “people food” to make it but you won’t be adding any spices or extras like salt or butter. It should be diabetic friendly and that should be the only thing they receive. Anything beyond their daily ration of balanced meals is a treat, and those should be diabetic friendly and balanced nutritionally as well and given in moderation. Plus factored in it how it will affect your dog’s diabetes.

    As some one who tried making dog food. Trust me, it is better and easier to find a quality diabetic friendly dog food. It makes regulating your dog so much easier.

    -Jeff

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