Diabetes in dogs can catch any dog owner by surprise with its sudden onset. It’s upsetting to see the symptoms and then hear the diagnosis.
In fact, one in every 500 dogs is diagnosed with diabetes. While diabetes is manageable, it can be fatal if left untreated.
Diabetes in dogs generally occurs when a dog is 7 to 10 years old, but can afflict younger dogs. Female dogs are 70 % more likely to develop diabetes than males.
Some Breeds That Are At Higher Risk Of Diabetes
What Is Diabetes In Dogs?
Diabetes mellitus (diabetes), similar to human diabetes, is caused by a lack of the pancreatic hormone, insulin, which affects the dog’s ability to digest or utilize the energy that is gained from sugars and starch.
A normal dog’s bodily functioning is able to break down glucose which then fuels the dog’s body, and the insulin is required to do so.
When glucose is unable to be converted to insulin, it can build up and cause kidney damage, damage to the eyes, heart and even nervous system. When diabetes is not treated, it can cause a stroke, blindness, and even nerve damage.
Diabetes is not curable but can be maintained with medication, exercise, and a healthy diet.
Types Of Diabetes
The more severe and dangerous diabetes is when the dog cannot produce insulin. Approximately 99% of all dogs that have Type 1 diabetes, the usual treatment is insulin.
The dog’s body can produce insulin, but the cells are not able to process it correctly. Type 2 can usually be treated with oral medications.
Treatment And Cost Of Diabetes
When your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will give you instructions on how to treat your dog at home.
The home routine usually means that you will have to administer daily doses of insulin, time your dogs’ feedings as well as monitoring your dog’s blood glucose. In most cases, a specific diet is also recommended.
Insulin is the most common form of treatment for Type 1 Diabetes. Oral medication is not prescribed.
Insulin is injected under the dog’s skin with a syringe or an insulin pen (which is a pre-filled syringe). Your veterinarian will give you a recommendation of the best type of insulin and syringe to purchase for your dog. And, of course, directions on how to administer the shots.
The injections of insulin are given to your dog with a very small needle. You will usually give your dog an injection 1 to 2 times daily – at the same time every day.
The amount of insulin that will be prescribed depends on the dog’s weight, size and how severe the diabetes is. The monthly cost of insulin typically ranges from $25 – $90.
Your vet can prescribe insulin and there are many online prescribed pharmacies that have lower prices than your vet. But, because insulin needs to be kept refrigerated, it needs to be guaranteed overnight shipping and that can also increase the cost.
Insulin needs to be injected with a sterile syringe which can only be used once. Depending on how much insulin you need to give your dog, the monthly cost of syringes can range from $8 to $15 a month.
When you start your dog on insulin, your vet will want to observe your dog’s glucose levels to make sure the dosage is right.
A very low dosage is generally given at the start and through testing, your vet will be able to determine if the prescribed amount is right or needs adjusting.
Of course, you want the right amount of insulin to keep the glucose level down, but not too much that your dog can’t handle that either.
There are glucose meters that can be used to monitor your dog’s insulin levels at home. A glucose machine ranges anywhere from $30 to $500. And, if you decide to have your vet do the testing, the costs can range from $15 to $40 a month.
Dog Food For Diabetes
Dogs that have diabetes will be on a prescribed food that is specifically for a diabetic dog. Your vet will recommend the best food for your dog and his condition. Most prescribed dog food is about 2 to 3 times the normal price of dog food.
For example, the popular Hill’s Prescription Diet for Digestive / Weight / Glucose Management costs about $80 for dry food and a case is approximately $45.
Diabetic dogs need to eat right before their insulin injection and at the same time each day.
When you have a diabetic dog, you will be going to the veterinarian’s office at least once every four months.
Vets can only prescribe insulin for a 3 to 4 month window and you will want to monitor your dog’s health often.
Depending on your vet or whether you have pet insurance, a vet bill can be free of charge or up to $90 a visit.
If you have a diabetic dog, hopefully, you already have pet insurance before the condition started.
While this is an additional $30 – $40 a month, if you have pet insurance and then your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, you will save money not only monthly, but overall for the duration of your dog’s life.
With all the insulin needed, testing, vet visits and even prescribed food, pet insurance can save you thousands of dollars. This is the perfect example of when pet insurance is not only a price saver but could be a lifesaver.
And another reason why you should insure your dog at a young age before any conditions are considered pre-existing.
Diabetes in dogs is manageable. It’s important to keep up with your dog’s daily walks, watch your dog’s weight look for any changes in your dog’s health or demeanor.
Make sure to keep up with the vet visits and if properly monitored, your dog can still a long, happy life.