159 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2012
I wish I had purchased this when my cat was first diagnosed with diabetes several years ago. But I was trying to save money, so I didn't. Well, my cat proved to be "hard to regulate". That has meant four different types of insulin and many different combinations of doses over the last four years. It has meant countless trips to the vet for glucose curves, fructosamine checks, blood panels, etc. And cats have a wild and crazy way of throwing the glucose curve WAY off when they are stressed (as I have seen now at home with the AlphaTrak), and of course, what's more stressful than being taken to stay in a tiny cage with a bunch of barking dogs next door for a whole day and getting your ear stuck with needles every hour? We never knew if we were giving him too much or not enough...too soon or not soon enough.
Well, when his clinical symptoms came back after the specially formulated insulin made from cow cells and compounded just for him every month started to fail, I knew I just had to bite the bullet and get the AlphaTrak. Wow. This thing is the GREATEST. SO easy to use. Needs BARELY a droplet of blood! It's incredible. And the manufacturer provides amazing product support on their website and by phone.
I watched all their videos on exactly how to calibrate the monitor, how to get a sample, etc. I was nervous at first, but I have to admit that I have a mellow cat and he trusts me completely, so it was VERY easy to isolate the ear vein (I put a warm dry washcloth against the front of the ear to hold the ear and help the blood to flow), a quick click of the lancet, and touch the test strip (which you put in the monitor prior to starting, to turn on the monitor) to the little drop of blood (and we are talking the head of a pin or LESS) and you have your result in SECONDS. It is SO easy.
We now have my cat regulated on Glargine; I've done several complete curves and several partial curves, but now only do spot checks. He is a NEW CAT! He actually PLAYS now, which I haven't seen him do in years. I cannot recommend this AlphaTrak enough. If your cat or dog (it does other animals too, like guinea pigs, but I can't remember exactly which ones) is diabetic, do yourself and your pet a HUGE favor and just spend the money for the AlphaTrak. (Don't forget the extra test strips and lancets, though, because the kit comes with only a few of each.) I could have saved hundreds of dollars in vet bills if I had only known.
And no, I DON'T work for the AlphaTrak people or Amazon, or anyone else involved in the veterinary diabetes industry. I'm just so excited to have my cat back! (Not that he's not still a lazy blob, but at least he PLAYS sometimes now!) :-)
97 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2012
I needed a glucose monitoring system for my 12-year-old dog and this is the only game in town. After spending the $127 on Amazon, I experienced serious problems setting it up. The user guide shows you setup steps screen by screen. Trouble is, the real-life screen does not display a lot of the steps in the user guide (like the year, month and day -- kind of important for setting the date, right?) and actually looks very different from the screen shots in the user guide (old user guide? bug in my unit? who knows?). I did manage to set the time, but within 3 days it was way off. if you can't get the time/date setup done, you can't start monitoring glucose with the (very expensive) test strips. I tried with the "test solution" and got an error message -- Error 1, which corresponded to about 5 different, unrelated explanations. Totally unhelpful. I am not a techno-klutz. I tried, had the above problems, set it aside, watched the video, read the manual, tried again ... basically wasted a ton of time.
I'm updating this review to state that I called the support number and received a timely call back from a vet at Abbott Labs. He walked me through the setup steps and gave me some tips on using the test strips that were not in the video or manual. He acknowledged that the units were "a little bit sensitive" and sometimes do not display what they are supposed to display. My unit is in fact in good working order, but I was unable to set it up on my own. Given that Abbot Labs provides effective and prompt support for this product, I recommend that purchasers seek support without delay if experiencing problems with setup and testing.
90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
Any pet owner can relate to the anxiety of having to take care of a sick animal. My cat started showing symptoms relatively late in her illness - one of which was lethargy. A couple of vet visits, and it was determined that she was diabetic, but really that was a side effect of her illness. When she declined rapidly, I took her to the suggested local animal hospital, and it was determined that she had a severe case of pancreatitis, along with feline DKA. Each illness individually is life threatening, but the 2 together...well, lets say the vets strongly suggested I think of euthanizing her. Four days later, she was good enough to leave the hospital, but still needed 11 daily doses of various medications. Now, the damage to her pancreas may be a permanent diabetic state. She has been extremely difficult to regulate - on the 3rd different insulin - and doctor visits have resulted in such a broad range of glucose readings, it is impossible to figure out what is going on with my girl. This meter was suggested.
I have read a lot of other reviews, and more than a couple people have had issues with setting up the meter. I have to say, I was able to get this meter set up in less than 2 minutes with just the Quick User's Guide. A quick read of how to use the lancing device, and a cursory look through the main directional booklet, and I am extremely comfortable with the product. Maybe because I am familiar with human insulin meters? I don't know, but I can say I have absolutely no issues.
Getting the blood is quick, and the meter can get a reading with a small amount. With as much poking, prodding, and force feeding medications as I have had to do, I am grateful that this product works so quickly. And the fact that there is minimal stress put on my cat, the vet's office can actually have a basis to figure out just what amounts of insulin I need to give my girl to get her stabilized.
I realize this is a long review, and some information is not exactly relevant to the product, but hopefully someone else will find it helpful.
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2013
First off - The Meter itself is pretty awesome, especially if you get the data cable (Another ripoff i might add...just a USB cable but you need a special one that only Abbot makes) as you can trend and graph the data. It also takes VERY little blood to test.
HOWEVER - The Test Strips are like InkJet cartridges in that they make you pay through the nose for them...because they can.
TIP - YOU CAN USE THE FREESTYLE LITE TEST STRIPS WITH THIS METER AND THEY ARE HALF THE COST OF THE ALPHA TRAK STRIPS!
They are the SAME thing! "What about coding?" I hear you ask? I ordered both the Alpatrak and Freestyle strips and did side by side tests on the same blood sample on our Husky.. the first was 1 point off! 1!! That was using the coding on the AT bottle too, which was different from the FS bottle. Researching it's said that you can just use the default Dog code and they will work enough. Subsequent tests were still very close and all withing the same area +-. I think the highest discrepancy was about 30 points but I've tested with two AT strips and have seen the results be that much different so...
In short, get the meter if you want...but don't use the AT strips.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2013
My diabetic cat freaks out when I take him into the vet for his BG curve. I really wish I had purchased this right after his diagnosis. It has made life a lot easier and gives me peace of mind that I can check him whenever I think he's acting a little off. It's easy to use too. That said, I've discovered a few tricks to using it:
Use the small vein that runs along the outside of his ear and prick it, not the inside. In a well lit room, it's easy to see.
Also, I don't use the lancers that came with the kit which are harder to use and more expensive. Instead (because a vet tech told me it was easier) I just prick his ear quickly with a syringe. Works great.
finally, remember that it's the side of the little sticks that measure the BG, not the top of bottom of the stick. My poor cat had to endure several pricks before I figured it out.
It took me a few times to get used to it so hang in there if you're having trouble. It gets easier and is worth it. A BG curve typically runs around 80. Fructosamine tests are even more expensive. I wish I had bought the kit earlier. My cat is a lot happier and really doesn't seem to mind. BTW -- my vet asked me to bring in my kit and cat to the office for a walk through and to make sure the system was calibrated properly.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2013
I had the original Alpha Trak and was not that happy with it. I decided to try the new Alpha Trak 2 and it works fantastic. All you need is a pin head of blood and the new test strips have a nob on either side that acts like a wick and sucks up the blood. It is soooo much easier than the old model. I finally have regulated my dogs diabetes. It took 2 years, but now, because of this machine I check his blood before he eats and give him the appropriate dosage of insulin then after a few hours, I check him again to see if he needs more insulin, I give him both the Humulin N and R. If after checking his blood after a few hours and it is still very high, I'll give him more of the R then recheck once again. This meter has made my life so much easier and has made me regulate my dogs insulin very much like a human. The only down side is the test strips are costly, but my dogs well being is worth the price. I highly recommend this meter.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 3, 2014
My cat was recently diagnosed with diabetes and it was pretty overwhelming. We are still going to the vets every ten days, where they test him with THEIR glucometer. I broke down and bought the AlphaTrak because I knew that my cats blood sugar would be at least a little lower in his own environment.
The vet set the whole thing up for me ... I was clueless and although I watched the video and read the instructions, I was having no luck setting it up, so beware about this, have your vet set it up for you, so its done right. You are dead in the water if you set it up yourself, and if its not done right.
The vet compared it a couple times with HIS glucometer and we were getting a differential of about 35-40 points. Mine was lower, even at the vet's office. This could be just a quirk of my particular unit.
We tried my unit two weeks in a row at the vets office, and at least got a baseline for mine, so I know that, in my case, I take his blood at home, then add about 30 points to it. NOTE: That is just for MY unit, yours could be diffferent, so its important to take it to the vets when you get it, have them calibrate it for you, then have your cat checked with the vet glucometer AND yours at the same time, so you know what you are doing with this.
Anyway, its a great product. We had trouble getting the ear vein and he did NOT like that. I watched the gal at the vets and she then got him wrapped in a towel and we pricked his pawpad, which is what I do at home now. I only do this about once or twice a week and hopefully will be able to taper off to once a week, because although he is good for me, he doesn't like any of this stuff, so I don't want to harass him too much.
But this thing is really invaluable in conjunction to watching for clinical signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar, as indicated by your vet. I can really recommend it highly. My only caveat is that you NEED to take it to the vets, even one time and get them to set it up and show you, in person, how to work with it on your cat. Believe me, the cost of the one office visit and the cost of the unit is MONEY WELL SPENT.
UPDATE !! 6/23/2014 A WORD OF CAUTION: I had the VETS calibrate my glucometer and after weeks of confusion, found out that we were not getting the right numbers because the person who calibrated neglected to put the SPECIES CODE into the device.
Apparently, when you get a new vial of test strips, the species codes ( e.g. CAT 38, DOG 36, etc. ) can change and you have to make sure that the code on the ouside of the vial matches the code in your device. You put the strip into the device, ( this is before you do the actual blood sampling ) you give it a minute and you should get a NUMBER. If that number ( say its a cat ) that comes up on the glucometer doesn't correspond to the number on the outside of the vial, it won't be accurate.
So, the device is very good, but you have to make sure its accurate by doing what I said, above, plus running the control tests with the control solution and follow the directions very carefully, which unfortunately my vets didn't.
The techs at ABBOTT LABS are very helpful but what helps the most is to give yourself some time, sit down and read all the directions, the manuals, and especially the thin folded paper instructions ( I think they came in the extra box of strips I got.) Anyway, my point is, MAKE SURE that you do all the steps so you don't get inaccurate readings. And TEST IT with the control solution to make sure it falls into a range of designated numbers which indicates that its accurate. The test numbers don't have anything to do with pet blood glucose, it just gives you a RANGE of special numbers that tells you, if you have the right species code in and you have a cat, its running accurately. The video and the initial paperwork in this doesn't really stress this testing and species codes on the device matching the cods on the new test strip vials.
My cat is ok, but we discovered that he was not getting the right dose of insulin, due to the vet's not calculating THEIR device OR my device properly. This stuff is very complicated and it took a village for us to get this straight.
By the way, I would also recommend your having your vets do a regular sugar blood glucoose test that they send to the lab, periodically....and then there is another blood test which will chart more extensively the ups and downs of the last few weeks of blood sugar for your pet, called a fructosamine test. That way, you have checks and balances, in the off chance that, as with me, neither your vets nor your glucometer is giving you correct readings.
Additional Update: I have now discovered that there are some very good Youtube videos that help with all this, if you just search Alpha Trak 2 Glucometer Calibration.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2014
I have never had a diabetic pet until now. My dogs diabetes was brought on by use of prednisone to treat a neck problem.
My vet never told me that this could cause diabetes.
When we found out she was diabetic two weeks ago I discussed with my vet what meter to buy. She was completely comfortable with me purchasing a human meter and we would have compared it to the meter at the office. However I just did not want to have to deal with- or have someone caring for my pet deal with -calculating the differences. My vet told me to buy online as they do not sell meters in the office so as for the "kickback" that was mentioned, that certainly is not in play.
I found this meter VERY EASY to set up. The DVD is very helpful and well done.
I had my meter all set up and ready to go when I arrived at the vet clinic to pick up my dog
and get instructions on testing her.
The Vet Tech at the clinic gave me a VERY GOOD TIP- when testing your pet do not push the test strip in all the way into the meter until you have a sufficient sample. Once you have a good drip of blood available you then insert the strip all the way. Then you just wait for the test screen to come up and you instantly take the sample. It is easier this way in case you have a hard time getting the sample as you do not have a long time once you activate the meter.
My major gripe is the OUTRAGEOUS COST of the test strips and the lancets. I guess the company figures that they are going to gouge people who care about the pets. Test strips at $1 each is ridiculous. That means it costs $2 a day of $60 a month to test your pet. Not counting the costs of the lancets. I would give the product 5 stars except for the cost of the needed supplies. The other pet meters on the market do not gouge the consumer.
Come on Abbott have a heart. Who knows how many people you price out of being able to give their pets a continued quality
ADD- REGULAR lancetts will work save some money. I buy the Rite Aid drug store brand. They are the TRUE plus lancets thin 28 gauge. On sale 6.99 for 100
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2013
This meter is perfect so far. Really easy to use when I'm doing a BG curve on my cat. Uses SOOOO much less of a sample than other meters. Beeps when you've got enough blood to test. Much less stressful on my kitty.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2013
This kit contained everything I needed to begin the process of testing my pet's insulin levels. The instructions are easy to follow.