There are very few options for testing your dog or cats glucose levels at home. To my understanding a normal human meter isn’t accurate. Taking your dog to the vet can become very costly, not to mention time consuming.

There are two major options out there, the iPet made by Ulti-Care and the AlphaTrak made by Abbott.

The AlphaTrak costs about $90. It comes with just the meter, a case and instructions, you have to buy strips separate, lancets, and control solution separate. The 50 test strips are about $50-75. You can use any old lancets. The control solution is $8-15 per bottle.

The iPet costs about $40. It comes with a meter, ten test strips, Glucode Chips (test strip code for cat/dog), control solution, a few lancets, lancing device, a case, instructions, log book, and instructional DVD. To buy more test strips, a box of 25 will cost about $20. Control solution is about $10. 100 UltiCare lancets will run about $4.

It is a major price difference. Such a difference that my friends over at sent me an iPet to test against my AlphaTrak.

My experience with the AlphaTrak
I’ve been using the AlphaTrak for over a year now. In over all cost each blood test at the vet is $18+, And each all day glucose curve test is $40+. The every once in a while test isn’t worth it at all. It won’t give you a clear picture of your dog’s glucose levels. After a few all days tests you might as well buy a meter.

In terms of use, the AlphaTrak is easy. It only takes a little blood. About the amount of a grain of rice. I poke Bender’s ear. Once a nice small bead of blood forms, I put a test strip in the meter, wait for it to load. Touch the strip to the blood. It sucks up the blood, if there is enough it beeps and then after a few seconds shows the blood sugar level.

I’ve tested it against my vet’s expensive glucose machine several times and it is accurate within 5-10 points.

My only complaint is the cost of supplies. $50-75 per bottle of 50 strips is in my opinion a bit high. I’ve found out that Freestyle Lite Blood Glucose Test Strips do work in the meter but aren’t as accurate and it varies from bottle to bottle. My first bottle of Freestyle Lite’s were only off by 10-15 points (on the low side). But the next bottle is off by 20-25 points (on the low side). I do keep a bottle of AlphaTrak test strips around to compare to.

Beyond that I’ve been very happy with my AlphaTrak.

My experience with the iPet
I was surprised that the iPet came with so much stuff. It was a nice starter kit and would allow for at least one round of testing and some errors.

I read the manual and watched the DVD it came with. Compared to the AlphaTrak, the iPet was a bit more complicated. Each bottle comes with two chips, one for cats and one for dogs. You have to match the chip with the bottle of test strips for which ever animal you are testing.

I didn’t test out the lancet device. The instructions said to poke them in the pad of their foot. Not thrilled with that because I run Bender daily and the last thing he needs are cuts on his feet. So I poked him in the ear like usual. I will say the lancet device did seem nice and easy to use. You put the lancet in, cock it by pulling up the end, and hit the button to fire it.

My first round of testing with the iPet has left me disappoint. To start the control solution was off. It was suppose to be between 109 and 169. It tested as 48 or so. Next, I couldn’t get an accurate read compared to my AlphaTrak. The numbers were off by 100 or so. Always low except one time and that time was 100+ higher compared to AlphaTrak. Some thing wasn’t right.

There is a good chance the control solution went bad. It happens. Not a big deal.

I searched the internet to see what others had to say. I found that the instructions don’t give a clear description on how much blood you really need for an accurate read.

Also UltiCare contacted me today about my troubles with the iPet. They confirmed that even if the meter beeps I still need to fill the test strip window with blood. Also that the control solution might have gone bad.

My next step is to make sure my iPet meter is functioning properly. In a few days I should have some more control solution to verify that my meter is testing properly. Then for another round of testing and comparison. To Be Continued…