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The Hidden Costs of Treating Dog Diabetes – What You Need to Know

September 1, 2021 by The Spot Pack
Diabetic Dog With Cataracts

The Cost of Dog Diabetes - What You Need To Know

We often hear about diabetes in humans, but dogs are also susceptible to this chronic disease. In honor of National Pet Diabetes Month, we are breaking down frequently asked questions about the cost of diabetes in dogs.

When referring to diabetes in dogs, we are typically referencing Diabetes Mellitus, a metabolic disorder affecting a dog’s ability to process sugars (glucose). In a healthy dog, food is broken down into smaller components, like glucose. The dog’s cells then absorb the glucose, and their insulin helps these cells process glucose as fuel. (1)

A diabetic dog usually lacks sufficient insulin in their body, making it difficult for the glucose to be absorbed and used as fuel. Some diabetic dogs may produce enough insulin, but be unable to use it properly. Either way, the diabetic dog is left with a lack of fuel from its inability to process glucose properly. (1)

Diabetes leaves a dog with cells that cannot process glucose as fuel effectively, leading to high glucose levels in the bloodstream. When glucose levels are too high in the bloodstream, damage to organs like the eyes, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels may occur. Other symptoms of diabetes may include weight loss, increased appetite, excessive thirst, and increased urination. (2)

Diabetes can be a heartbreaking diagnosis for a pet parent and their beloved dog. Fortunately, modern technology aids veterinarians in treating and managing the symptoms of diabetes in dogs.

There are many costs to consider when treating your dog, and while these numbers can be scary, Spot can help cover the bills for chronic conditions, like diabetes, so that you can keep your dog comfortable and happy. Just make sure you get a policy before these conditions emerge, so that they aren’t considered pre-existing (which insurance doesn't cover).

The Cost of Dog Diabetes Medication

Insulin is the most common diabetes treatment for dogs and is usually administered via injection. While pet parents are often hesitant about administering insulin injections at home, most pet parents will find that their dog doesn’t mind the injection nearly as much as they mind giving it.

The estimated monthly cost of insulin for a smaller dog is $40 to $80, while larger dog breeds may require $80 to $150 worth of insulin each month. (3)

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The Cost of Cataracts in Dogs with Diabetes

When your dog’s glucose levels are too high, they are at an increased risk of cataracts and organ damage. Cataracts are prevalent among dogs with diabetes. Within 16 months of a diabetes diagnosis, around 80% of dogs will develop at least one cataract. (4)

Cataracts occur when a dog’s eye lens becomes opaque, often giving their eye a cloudy, white appearance. This opacity obscures their vision and can cause partial or full blindness in that eye. (5) Currently, the go-to treatment for cataracts in dogs is cataract surgery.

Cataract surgery can be expensive and is usually around $3500 to $4500 in total. (6)

Diabetes Management Dog Food

Another key factor in diabetes management is specialty dog food. Maintaining a healthy weight and healthy glucose levels are essential factors in managing your dog’s diabetes. Many veterinary professionals will recommend a prescription dog food to help with this.

You can expect to pay somewhere around $30 for an 8.5-pound bag of diabetes management dog food and $80 for a 27.5-pound bag. (3)

Crucial Lifestyle Changes for Dogs with Diabetes

Diabetic dogs are more prone to infections, ketoacidosis, urinary tract infections, and more. It’s essential that you work with your veterinarian to manage your pup’s condition while making healthy at home lifestyle swaps for them. Important lifestyle choices to consider for diabetes management include spaying and weight management.

Spaying is essential for female dogs because their reproductive cycle will make it more challenging to manage their blood glucose levels. Check out our piece on pet spaying here for even more information on the health benefits.

Weight management is crucial for dogs with diabetes. Excess weight puts extra strain on the body and makes diabetes management more difficult. Lifestyle changes like a new diet, appropriate caloric intake, and increased exercise may benefit your pup. Speak with your veterinarian today about the best weight loss options for your dog.

Pet Insurance for Diabetes in Dogs

Having your furry friend diagnosed with diabetes can be heartbreaking, but with appropriate care from a veterinary professional, they can live a happy and healthy life.

Ongoing veterinary care is the best thing you can do for your diabetic dog. Your veterinarian can provide the best, personalized options for your pet, along with any needed medications, surgery, or prescription dog foods.

Getting a pet insurance policy while your pet is still young can help you get reimbursed later in their life if they develop diabetes.

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Pet Diabetes Month (1)

American Kennel Club (2)

Spend On Pet (3)

National Library of Medicine (4)

MSPCA Angell Ophthalmology (5)

Eye Specialists for Animals (6)

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