Dog Insulin Cost

Dog Insulin Cost

Did you know that diabetes is a common condition among dogs? Around 1% of dogs can’t produce enough insulin – or don’t respond to insulin properly. Diabetic dogs suffer from weight loss, rapid appetite changes, skin and urinary infections, eye problems, etc. 

So dogs usually develop Type-I diabetes, which is insulin-dependent. And one of the ways to manage the condition is with the help of insulin. The monthly cost of insulin is between $40 and $150, depending on various factors. Plus, there’s an additional cost of syringes. 

So you can understand that this is a fairly expensive treatment option. Keep reading to get an overview of insulin cost for dogs – and the overall treatment for canine diabetes.   

Understanding Dog Insulin and Its Importance in Managing Diabetes

Understanding Dog Insulin and Its Importance in Managing Diabetes
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Before we discuss more, let’s understand insulin and how it functions when administered to a dog. 

What is insulin?

Insulin, produced by the pancreas, is a hormone that, in simple words, helps turn food into energy and regulates blood sugar levels. The carbohydrates from the food eaten by your dog break down to glucose, which reaches the blood. 

Insulin moves this glucose from the blood to the body cells to be used as energy. Insulin also boosts energy storage, protein synthesis, and DNA replication. Thus, when your dog doesn’t produce insulin or its body doesn’t respond to it, its blood sugar level rises.   

That’s when it develops diabetes, which can be managed primarily by administering insulin injections. Diabetes can take a fatal turn, which is why dogs are recommended insulin injections two times a day. It is also important to maintain a proper diet.    

Types of Insulin Available for Dogs

Dog insulin can be broadly divided into three categories based on the duration of their effecт:

  1. Short-acting insulin – It is usually given to smaller dogs of less than 10 kg. It has a short duration of action that enhances basal coverage between meals.
  2. Intermediate-acting insulin – It is applied twice a day and is ideal for most dogs. It reduces the chances of hyperglycemia, especially in middle-aged or older dogs.
  3. Long-acting insulin – It is not usually prescribed to dogs and is more appropriate for cats. But it may be used for dogs to reduce hyperglycemia and its symptoms.

Check out the table below to understand the different types of short-acting, intermediate-acting, and long-acting insulin. It explains their onset time, time of peak activity, complete duration of effects, and administration method. 

Types and Effects of Insulin for Dogs

TypeOnset of ActionPeak ActivityDuration of EffectRouteBrand Examples
Regular0.5-1.5 hr2-4 hr1-4 hrSubcutaneousHumulin R, Novolin R
Aspart< 0.25 hr0.5-1.5 hr3-4 hrSubcutaneousNovoLog
Lispro< 0.25 hr0.5-1.5 hr3-4 hrSubcutaneousHumalog
Lente0.5-2 hr4-11 hr14-24 hrSubcutaneous (split dosage, 12 hr)Vetsulin
Neutral Protamine Hagedorn (NPH) 0.5-2 hr2-10 hr4-18 hrSubcutaneous (split dosage, 12 hr)Humulin N, Novolin N 
Glargine< 1.5 hr8-26 hr< 12 hrSubcutaneous (split dosage, 12 hr)Lantus
Detemir< 2 hr5-10 hr12-14 hrSubcutaneous (split dosage, 12 hr)Levemir
Protamine Zinc< 0.75-3 hr4-12 hr9-12 hrSubcutaneous (split dosage, 12 hr)ProZinc
Source: TVP

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An Overview of the Cost of Dog Insulin: Crucial Factors 

An Overview of the Cost of Dog Insulin
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If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes and prescribed insulin, you are looking at an expense of $40-150 a month for the hormone alone. For larger dogs, it should be around $80-150. For smaller dogs, you can expect to spend around $40-80. 

Plus, you have to consider the price of syringes, which can be around $20 more. In addition, you must remember that your diabetic dog needs other forms of care, as well. These include: 

  • Regular tests that you can conduct at home. You’ll need: 
  1. A glucometer, priced between $25 and $100 (one-time cost)
  2. Up to 12 test strips with a monthly cost between $10 and $15.  

The recurring costs of insulin, syringes, test strips, vet visits, and food are monthly estimates. The cost of insulin alone can be $480-$1800 a year. If taken care of properly, a dog can live a full life with diabetes. Most dogs live for at least 2 years

But that means you’ll have to spend about $960-3,600 on insulin alone during this time and another $240-$360 for syringes. Hopefully, your dog will live a full life with proper care – and that will also entail more expenses.    

Factors that Contribute to the Cost of Dog Insulin

It may be difficult to predict the overall expense of insulin because it depends on various factors. They are as follows: 

Type of Insulin

As you have seen from the table above, insulin is of different types. Of these, the intermediate-acting and short-acting insulin types used traditionally cost less. NPH is the most affordable. Also, note that analogs are more expensive than human insulin.

Quantity of Insulin Needed

The quantity of insulin depends on the dosage and dog weight. Intermediate-acting insulin is administered twice daily, with a specific unit for each kilo of the dog’s body weight. E.g., the initial dose of Vetsulin for a 50 lb (23 kg) dog is 0.5 UI x 23 kg = 11 UI. 

Brand of insulin

Different types of insulin are formulated by various brands. And the price of the same type of insulin can vary largely based on brands. For instance, insulin Aspart by Novolog is a pocket-friendly option, while the same insulin by Fiasp is an expensive choice.

Dog Insulin Prices at Online Stores vs. Offline Stores vs. Vet Clinics  

The most expensive way of buying insulin is from veterinary clinics. Pet parents who do not want to wait pay a markup of 100-160% on the wholesale prices simply for convenience. Vets also charge up to $15 as a dispensing fee.   

However, online retailers like GoodRx offer pet insulin at lower costs as they can buy it in bulk and eliminate administrative costs. But overnight shipping adds to the cost. Plus, online stores may charge extra for special packaging. Yet, it will be cost-effective.  

Offline retail stores are more expensive than online pharmacies. But pet parents trust offline stores more than online ones. Shops like Walmart sell insulin for diabetic human patients at low costs. So be careful while picking the right variety for dogs. 

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Ways to Reduce Dog Insulin Costs

The cost of insulin and diabetes care for dogs can be quite steep. So, as a pet parent, you need to explore options that will help you reduce the cost of insulin and overall treatment. Let’s take a quick look:

Insurance Coverage for Dog Insulin

Insurance can cover the cost of diabetes treatment, including insulin costs. There are two types of pet insurance policies – the maximum benefit policy and the lifetime policy. Depending on the type of insurance, you can expect complete or partial cost coverage. 

Buying Insulin in Bulk

When you buy insulin in bulk, you will have to make a large upfront payment. However, it is a cost-efficient method of buying insulin, as buying in bulk can help reduce the unit price. But you should remember that you will need sufficient cold storage facilities for it.  

Discount Programs for Dog Insulin

Some vets offer discounts on insulin to pet parents who find it hard to bear the cost of diabetes care. So don’t hesitate to ask. You can also look for discounts at pharmacies, especially the online ones that acquire insulin and diabetes care products in bulk.  

Alternative Sources of Insulin

Instead of modern formulations developed in the US by expensive pharmaceutical companies, you can choose the following alternatives to cut costs: 

  • Human Insulin – The cost per unit of human insulin is higher than analogs. But both human and synthetic insulin varieties can be equally effective. 
  • Generic Brands of Insulin – Many traditional and modern brands offer costlier versions of different types of insulin. Generic brands are easier on the pockets. 
  • Insulin from International Sources – US insulin brands are costlier. But getting international insulin varieties needs you to find a trustworthy source.     

Home Monitoring and Management of Dog Diabetes

Monitoring the glucose level of your dog at home can be a cost-effective approach. You do have to spend on a glucometer and test strips, but it will still be less expensive than getting regular tests done at pet diagnostic centers. 

Holistic Approach to Lower Blood Sugar

Speak to your vet regarding other natural ways for diabetes control. Herbal remedies and oral medicines like Acarbose, Glipizide, Glucotrol, Metformin, etc., can help reduce blood sugar. Proper diet and exercise can also help.  

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Dog Insulin Cost: FAQs

Q: Is Treating Dog Diabetes Without Insulin Possible?

A: No, treating dog diabetes without insulin is not possible. Dietary changes mentioned by the doctor can only complement the treatment and won’t be effective alone. It is possible for a dog to go without insulin for a couple of days with no major health problems. But It should not become a regular practice. 

Q: What Is the Cheapest Insulin for Dogs?

A: Novolin N is considered the cheapest insulin for dogs. A 10ml vial of this insulin is priced at $143 while a carton of 5 flexpens costs less than $277 on GoodRx. It is a human-labeled insulin used for treating diabetes in dogs at an affordable price. 

Q: Where Should You Buy Insulin for Dogs?

A: Online stores like GoodRx, VetRxDirect, etc., are trusted pharmacies for buying dog insulin. They offer discounts and are usually the most pocket-friendly platforms. You can also buy them from local pharmacies and even Walmart – or from a veterinary clinic.  

Q: How Long Can a Dog Live With Diabetes Without Insulin?

A: Generally, a dog with diabetes can live for a few days – or a few weeks, at most – without insulin. After that, it will succumb to the effects of high blood glucose levels. That means the dog is unable to use the glucose and convert it to energy required for survival. It will eventually die.    

Q: Is Dog Insulin the Same as Human Insulin?

A: No, dog insulin is not exactly the same as human insulin as the former is a less concentrated variant of the latter. Since dogs need less insulin than humans, it is recommended that you use dog insulin only as using human insulin on them can lead to dosing errors.  

Q: Does Pet Insurance Cover Insulin?

A: Yes, pet insurance covers insulin medication as prescribed by a doctor. Lifetime policies cover the cost of treatment throughout the pet’s life as long as you pay the premiums. Maximum benefit policies only cover a specific cost as specified in the policy terms.  

Q: How Long Can a Dog Live on Insulin?

A: Diabetic dogs on insulin generally live between 18 and 24 months. Some dogs also live for up to 3 years. If a dog survives the first few months after diabetes, it will likely live a healthy life. When insulin is administered, diabetes won’t reduce its life, though other health factors might.   

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Gift Your Dog a Healthy Life – with Dog Insulin and Proper Care

Gift Your Dog a Healthy Life - with Dog Insulin and Proper Care
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The cost of dog insulin and diabetes care can be expensive. But it is indispensable if you want your dog to live a long life. To reduce costs, seek veterinary advice. With insulin becoming more accessible, you may see a drop in pet insulin costs soon. 


Johann Chapuis

Johann Chapuis has assembled a fantastic team of licensed veterinarians, animal behaviorists, dog trainers, groomers, and walkers to write every article and offer the most accurate content on Being a pet lover and owner himself, Johann is sharing his experiences and his financial aptitude cultivated during his MBA with a specialization in finance and the numerous years he spent working as a business manager and entrepreneur.

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