By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is glipizide?

Glipizide (brand names: Glucotrol®) is an antidiabetic medication used to treat type 2 diabetes in the following situations: pets that are responsive to the medication, or when an alternative to needles is preferred.

Its use in cats to treat high blood sugar/diabetes is ‘off label’ or ‘extra label’. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is glipizide given?

Glipizide is given by mouth in the form of a tablet. Give with food.

This medication should take effect within 1 to 2 hours; however, effects may not be visibly obvious and therefore laboratory tests may need to be done to evaluate if this medication is working.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Side effects include lack of appetite and vomiting, which usually resolves after 2-5 days. Serious side effects include increased liver enzymes, yellowing of the skin or eyes, continued vomiting or lack of appetite, bleeding, bruising, fever, seizures, collapse, weakness, paralysis, muscle twitching, or depression.  

This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Glipizide should not be used in pets that are allergic to it or other sulfonamides. Do not use in pets with trauma, infection, diabetic coma, low blood sugar, or diabetic ketoacidosis. Use glipizide cautiously in pets with adrenal, thyroid, kidney, or liver disease, prolonged vomiting, fever, or a debilitated condition. It should be used cautiously, if at all in pregnant or nursing pets.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with glipizide: alcohol, azole antifungals, beta-blockers, chloramphenicol, cimetidine, corticosteroids, thiazide diuretics, isoniazid, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), niacin, phenothiazines, phenytoin, probenecid, sulfonamides, sympathomimetic agents, thyroid agents, or warfarin.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

For the first month, your veterinarian will want to do a physical exam, weight check, blood sugar levels, and urine glucose tests every week. Monitor your pet at home for serious side effects. Your veterinarian will monitor your pet to make sure this medication is working. If blood sugar levels do not improve, or if the medication stops working, your veterinarian will likely need to switch your pet to injectable insulin.

How do I store glipizide?

Store the tablets at room temperature, protected from light.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility. If your pet is showing signs of low blood sugar (weakness, passing out, seizures or muscle twitching), rub some Karo syrup on the gums.

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