The Cost of Treating a Diabetic Dog

When a diabetes verdict is given on your dog’s state of health at the vet’s, one of the consequent responsibilities that comes with it is the care and treatment of a dog whose blood sugar levels will need daily management with insulin. The same also means you’ll now need to budget for your dog’s diabetes treatment. So, exactly how much is the cost of treating a diabetic dog?

Treating a diabetic dog can cost around $217-$257 in the first month. This cost includes diagnosis, glucometer, insulin, test strips, lancets, and syringe & needles. After the initial treatment, continuing diabetes dog treatment costs can go up to about $141-$202 when insulin is given twice daily.

As we tell you in this article, these costs will increase in the months that the annual glucose curve tests are done and depending on the brand of insulin that your dog’s vet prescribes. Find these and all other details on dog diabetes treatment costs in the rest of the article.

Diabetic Dog Treatment Costs?

There are several aspects of diabetes treatment that come with a cost. They include:

  • Diagnosis.
  • Items used for the insulin treatment (glucometer, test strips, lancets, and syringes & needles).
  • Annual glucose curve tests.

We’ll discuss the approximate figures of each of these diabetic dog treatment costs, plus other additional expenses that can escalate the cost of owning a diabetic dog.

Dog Diabetes Diagnosis Cost

Treatment cost

Dog diabetes diagnosis is usually made by performing a battery of tests for high blood sugar in the urine and blood. If high sugar levels are detected in all tests, the patient is likely diabetes. 

A serum fructosamine test can be done to confirm the diagnosis. This test detects the sugar molecules attached to the proteins and determines if the high sugar levels are caused by temporary stress, a different health issue, or diabetes. Fructosamine levels are normal if sugar levels rise for temporary reasons other than diabetes.

The cost of these tests will vary from vet to vet. You will rarely find diabetes diagnosis costs indicated on veterinary clinic websites. As such, you’ll need to directly engage the clinic to know the cost of the tests.

To make a diabetes diagnosis cost approximation, we took an example of costs for all three tests from the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory fee schedule:

  • Urine sugar test (complete urinalysis) – $29.00
  • Blood sugar test (Glucose Serum) – $20.00
  • Serum fructosamine test (Fructosamine Serum) – $44.00

The total for these dog diabetes diagnostic tests is $93.00. However, the cost may increase if the vet orders a Complete Blood Count (CBC) exam ($45.00) and other tests that are necessary for a precise dog diabetes diagnosis.

Dog Insulin Cost

The cost of dog insulin will vary from case to case depending on factors like:

  • The frequency of dosage – if the dosage is once or twice daily.
  • Dog size – larger dogs require higher doses.
  • Dog diabetes status – dosage will increase when your dog’s diabetes condition deteriorates.
  • The type of insulin prescribed by the veterinarian for your dog – Commonly used dog insulins include Vetsulin, ProZinc, Humulin N, Caninsulin, and Detemir (Levemir).

Since it would be impossible to feature all the dosage variations in our cost estimates, we made cost estimates guided by the following:

  • We considered that the recommended starting dosage for two of the common insulin types (Vetsulin & ProZinc) is 0.5 IU/kg body weight once daily and  0.5-1.0 IU/kg once daily, respectively. 

The 0.5 IU/kg daily dose of ProZinc is used for dogs with controlled diabetes. The amount is adjusted to 1.0 IU/kg for dogs with poorly controlled diabetes or those transitioning to a different type of insulin. We assumed our dog’s diabetes is well controlled and uses 0.5 IU/kg of body weight. 

  • We used current cost prices for the two types of insulin from some of the top pet medication online pharmacies; Chewy and PetMeds. Amazon.com is considered in some cases.
  • We assumed that our diabetes case is a 20kg (44lb) dog. As such, the daily starting dosage will be 10 units daily. 

Depending on the strength of the insulin (U-40 or U-100), you should use a corresponding syringe. Our reference products have a U-40 strength, meaning there are 40 units per milliliter of insulin. A 10mls bottle contains 400 units, enough for a month’s dosage for both Vetsulin and ProZinc.

Going by these considerations, here are our insulin estimate costs:

Type of InsulinCost at Chewy(10Mls U-40 bottle)Cost at PetMeds (10mls U-40 bottle)Daily Dosage for a 20kg(44lb) DogMonthly Dosage for a 20kg(44lb) DogMonthly Cost
Vetsulin$63.49$63.4910 units 300 units$47.61 (300*63.49/400)
ProZinc$116.99$116.9910 units300 units$87.74(240*116.99/400)

For both products, it is advised that the dosage be adjusted to twice daily (every 12 hours) if:

  • The time of insulin action is inadequate with a once-daily dose. 
  • There are changes in the dog’s weight, diet, other medications, and co-occurring medical conditions. 

A vet should be involved in determining the necessary insulin dosage adjustment in both situations. 

The recommended amount for a twice-daily dosage is a reduction of 25% of the recommended 0.5 IU/kg body weight. That means 0.38 IU/kg body weight. In that case, a continuing twice-daily insulin dosage for the two products would amount to the following:

Type of InsulinCost at Chewy(10Mls U-40 bottle)Cost at PetMeds (10mls U-40 bottle)Daily Dosage for a 20kg(44lb) DogMonthly Dosage for a 20kg(44lb) DogMonthly Cost
Vetsulin$63.49$63.497.6 + 7.6 = 15.2 units 456 units$72.38 (456*63.49/400)
ProZinc$116.99$116.997.6 + 7.6 = 15.2 units456 units$133.37(456*116.99/400)

Note that a 10ml bottle would not be enough, in this case, to supply 456 units for the entire month. The additional units are accounted for in the cost calculation.

In summary:

You’ll pay approximately $50 for initial dog diabetes treatment per month using Vetsulin and $70 for a twice-daily continuing dose. Similarly, you’ll pay around $90 for the initial dog diabetes dosage per month using ProZinc and $130 for a twice-daily continuing dosage.

Remember that your pet’s veterinarian determines the type of insulin your dog uses. Also, the dosage can vary depending on the dog’s diabetes condition and body weight, among other factors, all determined by a vet.

Glucose Meter Cost

A glucose meter monitoring kit is indispensable when you have a dog with diabetes. You’ll need the meter to consistently monitor your dog’s blood sugar throughout the day. 

We considered the AlphaTRAK 2 Blood Glucose Monitoring System Meter from PetMeds at $7.95.

Note that it is possible to buy a blood glucose monitoring system kit that includes a glucose meter, lancets, and testing strips. However, we opted for the separate costs because a glucose meter is purchased only once, but the lancets and testing strips will be purchased consistently. 

Test Strips Cost

Test strips come in a set. The recommended number of times you should test your dog’s blood sugar levels is 1-3 times in the day. A 50-piece pack is enough for a month.

We went for the AlphaTRAK 2 Pet Blood Glucose test strips with 50 pieces from Amazon.com. The 50-piece pack was listed at $50.99 at the time of writing the article.

Lancets Cost

Lancets are the sharp needles used to prick your dog’s skin to draw a small amount of blood for glucose testing. The needle is used once and discarded.

We picked the AlphaTRAK Sterile Lancets for Dogs & Cats with 100 pieces from Chewy. The 100-piece pack is listed for $15.25 and is enough for at least 2 months. That counts for $7.63 per month on lancets.

Syringes & Needles Cost

A syringe with a needle is needed every time you inject your dog with insulin. As with lancets, needles and syringes are discarded after a single use.

Vets recommend that you use the right syringe corresponding to the insulin strength. The referred insulin types, Vetsulin and ProZinc, are both U-40, which means you need to use a U-40 syringe.

We went for the 100-pack U-40 Syringes for ProZinc & Vetsulin Insulin, selling for $20.31 on PetMeds. The pack is enough for at least 2 months, which means $10.16 every month.

Annual Glucose Curve Tests

Every 2-4 months, diabetic dog owners should complete a glucose curve to determine the effectiveness of the insulin treatment. If your dog maintains the recommended 100-250 mg/dL sugar levels for most of the day, then the pet is safe from diabetes complications. If this is not the case, your dog’s vet will recommend an adjustment to the insulin dosage. 

Glucose test

Completing a glucose curve entails the following:

  1. Blood sampling just before giving the insulin injection.
  2. Giving the insulin injection.
  3. Doing blood sampling every 60-120 minutes over the next 12-24 hours and recording the readings for precise comparison.

According to the Trividia Health subsidiary, Healthy Tracks for Pets, a blood glucose curve done at the vet’s costs around $200. That will account for about $600 per year if the curve is faithfully done every 4 months. Nonetheless, this cost can be reduced if the blood glucose curve is done at home and the vet’s help is only sought to interpret the outcome of the tests.

With all the costs of what’s needed for the treatment of dog diabetes, we can now compute the comprehensive monthly total cost for treating your diabetes dog.

How Much Does It Cost to Treat a Diabetic Dog?

From our calculations in the above section, the cost of treating a diabetes dog varies according to factors like 

  • The number of times insulin is administered daily (once or twice).
  • The size of the dog (dog’s body weight).
  • The insulin brand.
  • The purchase cost of all the items needed for diabetes treatment.

Going by this, here’s how much it will cost to treat a diabetic dog.

First Month Dog Diabetes Treatment Cost (Using Vetsulin)

Dog Diabetes Treatment CostsCost per Month 
Diagnosis$93.00
Insulin (Vetsulin)$47.61
Glucose meter$7.95
Test strips$50.99
Lancets $7.63
Syringes & needles$10.16
Total$217.34

First Month Dog Diabetes Treatment Cost (Using ProZinc)

Dog Diabetes Treatment CostsCost per Month 
Diagnosis$93.00
Insulin (ProZinc)$87.74
Glucose meter$7.95
Test strips$50.99
Lancets $7.63
Syringes & needles$10.16
Total$257.47

Continuing Dog Diabetes Treatment Cost (Using Vetsulin twice daily)

Dog Diabetes Treatment CostsCost per Month 
Insulin (Vetsulin)$72.38
Test strips$50.99
Lancets $7.63
Syringes & needles$10.16
Total$141.16

Continuing Dog Diabetes Treatment Cost (Using ProZinc twice daily)

Dog Diabetes Treatment CostsCost per Month 
Insulin (ProZinc)$133.37
Test strips$50.99
Lancets $7.63
Syringes & needles$10.16
Total$202.15

Note that the continuing dog diabetes treatment cost excludes the diagnosis and glucose meter costs. However, a glucose curve cost will be added to this cost every 4 months as recommended, which means $341.16 for dogs using Vetsulin and $402.15 for dogs using ProZinc.

Note, too, that diabetic dogs are prone to diabetes-related infections and illnesses such as UTIs and cataracts. Treating these conditions comes with extra costs.

Final Thoughts

Owning a dog comes with food, training, and home and vet care costs. If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, the initial costs of owning a dog can shoot up tremendously. 

As a result, diabetic dog owners will want to find out ways to save on treatment costs without compromising their pet’s health. Our article on How to Save on Diabetic Dog Treatment will give you valuable tips on the issue.

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is built on thorough research on the costs of test procedures and items used in dog diabetes treatment. As such, it serves as a general guideline and should not be used as a substitution for your dog’s vet professional advice.

If you suspect your dog is diabetic or your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes always consult your veterinarian before making decisions regarding treatment.