A 10-year-old MN Boston Terrier recently diagnosed with diabetes presents for a glucose curve. Your doctor has informed you that not only is “Harley” a bit of an ornery character, he is dehydrated, and pretty much has no veins as far as the eye can see. With front legs not being an option in this patient and the back legs blown from multiple attempts, where can one go for some quick sticks with the least amount of trauma and stress for the patient? Believe it or not, the ear. Ear sticks can surprisingly be done on fairly fractious cats or dogs with relative ease. There is a lovely little vessel that runs along the outer edge of the ear, it may be little but boy do these things like to bleed! You don’t need a big needle just some good aim; a 22-gauge needle should suffice.
You can pad your fingers with some gauze behind the ear as a safety measure so as not to accidentally stick yourself; no one wants to know what your blood glucose is anyway. Gently prick the ear vein (don’t stab it, you work for a vet not a body piercing shop). A small stick is all that you need. If your clinic uses an AlphaTRAK veterinary glucometer you only need .3 microliters of blood, which is about the size of a pinhead. You will need to apply some digital pressure after to stop the bleeding, again these veins are notorious bleeders, not like a tongue ,but close. Now these ears can certainly get sore from multiple sticks, but this technique will give the patient’s other veins some much needed healing time.
Just another quick tip. When taking routine BG’s from a patient’s arms or legs use an insulin needle, it will cut down on the “ouch” factor and help to preserve that vein for the next stick.