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Diabetes in dogs

What you need to know

  • Diabetes is not just a disease suffered by humans - dogs can get it too.
  • Canine diabetes is almost exclusively type 2 diabetes mellitus.
  • Treatment requires regular insulin injections, but can be covered by pet insurance.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes refers to a group of conditions that affect insulin's ability to process blood sugar. Diabetes in humans can come in a lot of varieties, including type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Some types cause the body to not create enough insulin, while others make people resistant to the insulin they create.

Types of diabetes in dogs

Up to 1% of dogs will develop diabetes in their lifetime. That's quite a lot less than the 5-10% of Australian humans with diabetes. Despite being less common in canines, it's still not a particularly rare condition. There are two types of diabetes in dogs:

  • Diabetes mellitus. Sometimes also known as 'sugar diabetes', this is the primary type of diabetes in dogs. It's caused by an insulin deficiency, either from not enough insulin or from insulin resistance.
  • Diabetes insipidus. Sometimes also known as 'drinking diabetes', diabetes insipidus leads to the failure to regulate the body's water content. It's extremely rare in dogs.

What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

Most dogs are diagnosed with diabetes between 4 and 14 years of age. The earlier you're able to catch the disease, the better your pup's health outcomes are likely to be. Here are the main symptoms of diabetes mellitus in dogs:

  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination

The above are the four classical signs of diabetes, but there are several other signs and symptoms that may present in more advanced cases:

  • Sweet-smelling or fruity breath
  • Lethargy or a lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite

If you suspect that your dog may have diabetes, take him to the vet as soon as possible for a full check-up. If left untreated, the disease can have a severe impact on your dog’s overall health and cause:

  • Cataracts (eventually leading to blindness)
  • An enlarged liver
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vomiting
  • Chronic skin conditions
  • Kidney failure

Which dogs are prone to diabetes?

Several factors can contribute to the likelihood of a dog getting diabetes. A few of the main factors including your dog's breed, gender and historic conditions.

Dogs breeds prone to canine diabetes

Diabetes can occur in any dog. However, studies have shown that certain breeds have a higher risk of developing the disease. A few breeds at particular risk include:

  • Miniature Poodles
  • Pugs
  • Dachshunds
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Australian Terriers
  • Samoyeds
  • Fox Terriers
  • Bichons Frises
  • Beagles

Source: American Kennel Club

Dog gender and diabetes

Female dogs that have not been desexed are twice as likely to get diabetes as male dogs.

Historic conditions and lifestyle

Obesity can make cells resistant to insulin, so it's important to make sure your pet stays at a healthy weight. Also, feeding your dog a diet high in fat can contribute to pancreatitis. Chronic or repeated cases of this can severely damage the pancreas and cause diabetes.

Does pet insurance cover diabetes?

Yes. The good news is that if you have a pet insurance policy that includes illness cover, you'll be covered for eligible vet bills arising from your dog's diabetes treatment.

Also, we crunched the numbers and found that, on average, pet insurance for dogs was around $821 per year, much cheaper than the costs involved with treatment out-of-pocket.

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Compare pet insurance

Name Product Accidental Injury Illness Paralysis Tick Yearly Sub-Limit Maximum yearly benefit Reimbursement rate Reimbursement Rate
Medibank Pet Max Cover with Extra Care
tick
tick
$30,000
$30,000
90%
90%
⭐Finder Exclusive: Get your 1st month’s premium free when you choose Medibank Pet Insurance. Sign up using promo code FINDERONE. Offer ends 29 April 2024. T&Cs apply.
Everyday Comprehensive Plus Cover
tick
tick
$3,000
$30,000
80%
80%
Everyday Pet Insurance customers get 10% off their monthly Woolworths shop. T&Cs apply.
PIA Major Medical Cover
tick
tick
$3,000
$30,145
80%
80%
Covers specified accidents and illnesses, with Routine Care Cover included. Get 2 months free when you sign up using the code PIA202. T&Cs apply.
Budget Direct Pet Insurance
tick
tick
$1,500
$12,000
80%
80%
Apply online and get 15% off your first year's premium. T&Cs apply.
Coles Premium Cover
tick
tick
$2,500
$15,000
80% or 100%
80% or 100%
Earn 10x Flybuys points per $1 spent on pet food at Coles Supermarkets. T&Cs apply.
PD Deluxe Plan
tick
tick
$15,000
$20,000
100%
100%
Apply online and get your first 1 month free. T&Cs apply.
Fetch Pet Insurance
tick
tick
$30,000
$30,000
80% or 90% or 100%
80% or 90% or 100%
Get dental, physio and behaviour cover included and skip wait periods by following our in-app journey.
Pet Circle Dog Cover
tick
tick
$10K or $17.5K or $30K
$0
70% or 80% or 90%
70% or 80% or 90%
Get 2 months free when you sign up using the code PCI2FREE. T&Cs apply.
Vets Choice Elite Cover
tick
tick
$2,500
$15,000
80% or 100%
80% or 100%
Get a 5% discount when you insure more than one pet.
Guardian Platinum Accident & Illness Cover
tick
tick
$1,200
$12,000
80%
80%
Lifetime cover for cats and dogs, up to 80% covered.
Petsy Custom Cover
tick
tick
$5000 or $10,000 or $25,000
$0
80% or 90%
80% or 90%
⭐ Finder Exclusive: Enjoy 30% off your first month of pet insurance, plus receive a custom pet tag. Sign up using the code FINDER. T&Cs apply.
Real Premium Accident & Illness Cover
tick
tick
$1,200
$12,000
80%
80%
Claim up to a maximum of $12k per year, with no excess to pay.
RSPCA Ultimate Plus Accident and Illness Cover
tick
tick
$20,000
$20,000
80%
80%
Comprehensive cover for your pet, including the option of routine care. Get 1 month free for the first year of new policies. T&C's apply.
Australian Seniors Top Accident & Illness Cover
tick
tick
$1,200
$12,000
80%
80%
Benefits include overseas cover when in NZ or Norfolk Island for your pet, plus an optional routine care add-on.
Knose Pet Insurance
Finder AwardExclusive
Knose Pet Insurance
tick
tick
$25,000
$25,000
90%
90%
⭐Finder Exclusive: Get 10% off your first year. Sign up using promo code FINDER10. T&C's apply.
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