If your cat has diabetes, you are probably familiar with insulin -- the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood. You are probably also familiar with just how expensive this drug can be. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to bring down the cost of this important treatment. Here are some tips for saving on cat insulin.
Typical Cat Insulin Costs
Your cat’s insulin can cost anywhere from $30-$150. The price will vary depending on if you decide to buy from your veterinarian, from an internet retailer, or using a pharmacy benefits plan. The price will also depend on whether you purchase a brand name or generic drug.
Buying Insulin at the Vet vs. Online
Many pet owners don’t realize that they don’t have to buy their pet’s medications from their veterinarian. Because of this, many people end up spending an arm and a leg on insulin when they don’t have to. Veterinarians and clinics generally markup their medications anywhere from 100% and 160%, and most also charge a $5 to $15 dispensing fee.*
Buying medication online is a much more affordable option. Internet retailers keep prices low by buying medications in bulk and having fewer administrative costs. If you decide to order insulin online, it will require special packaging and overnight shipping to ensure that it stays cold, and this can sometimes mean higher shipping costs. Even so, buying insulin online will probably still be cheaper than buying from your veterinarian.
Buying Brand Name vs. Generic Insulin
A common misconception is that generic drugs don’t work as well as those with brand names. In reality, generic drugs contain the same active ingredients and have the same medicinal effects as their brand-name versions. The only reason they cost less is that the manufacturer of the generic product did not have to pay for the development or marketing of the drug.
In most cases, you will save money by choosing the generic version. For example, Humulin is brand-name insulin with a retail price of $100-$130. Its generic version, Novolin, has a retail price of $70-$100.
Saving on Your Cat’s Insulin with a Pharmacy Benefits Plan
You could save even more by signing up for pharmacy benefits plans. These plans save you money and time by partnering with pharmacies, drug companies, veterinarians, and more. Remember: pharmacy benefits plans are not the same as pet insurance. With a pharmacy benefits plan, a monthly or yearly fee earns you access to low-cost pet medications. You could be saving up to 75% on your cat’s insulin.
Sign up or learn more about PetPlus by PetCareRx, the first-ever comprehensive savings plan for pets, and find out how much a membership will help you save.
*Consumer Reports: Don’t Automatically Get Pet Medicines From the Vet
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I stop giving my diabetic cat insulin?
If you stop giving insulin to your diabetic cat, their blood sugar levels will remain elevated, which can lead to several severe health issues. Untreated diabetes can cause problems such as dehydration, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, and eventually, diabetic ketoacidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition. Diabetic ketoacidosis is caused by high levels of ketones in the blood, which can lead to an array of serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, confusion, and even coma. Diabetic ketoacidosis requires urgent medical attention and can be fatal if left untreated. Hypoglycemic episodes can occur in cats during remission from diabetes. Remission is a period when the cat's blood sugar levels return to normal, and they no longer require insulin therapy. During this period, the cat's pancreas produces enough insulin to regulate its blood sugar levels. However, in some cases, the pancreas may produce too much insulin, leading to a sudden drop in blood sugar levels, known as hypoglycemia. Symptoms of hypoglycemia in cats include weakness, confusion, tremors, seizures, and even coma.
Can my cat survive without insulin?
It is possible for a cat to survive without insulin, but it depends on the severity of diabetes, the cat's overall health, and its ability to manage its blood sugar levels through diet and other means. In some rare cases, a cat's diabetes may be mild enough that it can be managed through diet alone, without the need for insulin therapy. However, this is not common, and most cats with diabetes require insulin injections to regulate their blood sugar levels. With early, aggressive treatment of diabetes, many cats can enter a state of diabetic remission. Diabetic remission is a period when a cat's blood sugar levels return to normal, and they no longer require insulin therapy as the cat's pancreas produces enough insulin to regulate its blood sugar levels. To achieve diabetic remission, early diagnosis, and aggressive treatment are crucial. Treatment may include insulin injections, dietary management, and other medications prescribed by a veterinarian. Once a cat enters diabetic remission, their diabetes is not considered cured, but it can maintain normal blood sugar levels without insulin injections.
What is the life expectancy of a cat with diabetes?
The life expectancy of a cat with diabetes depends on several factors, including the cat's age, overall health, the severity of its diabetes, how well its diabetes is managed, and any other underlying health conditions it may have. With proper management and treatment, many cats with diabetes can live long and healthy lives. Early diagnosis, aggressive treatment, and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels are essential to managing the disease and preventing complications. However, uncontrolled diabetes can lead to several severe health issues, such as diabetic ketoacidosis, neuropathy, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease, which can significantly reduce a cat's lifespan. Some studies have reported an average lifespan of around three years for cats with diabetes. However, these studies often include cats with uncontrolled or poorly managed diabetes, which can significantly reduce their lifespan.
How much is insulin for a diabetic cat?
The cost of insulin for a diabetic cat can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of insulin prescribed, the dosage required, and the availability of generic or brand-name products in your area. In the United States, the cost of insulin for a diabetic cat can range from around $25 to $100 per vial, with each vial containing multiple doses. The number of doses in each vial and the dosage required for your cat will determine how long each vial will last. A cat with mild diabetes may need less insulin and may average closer to $20 to $30 every 40 days, while a cat with more severe diabetes may require $50 to $60 of insulin every 40 days or more. Other expenses may include regular check-ups, blood sugar monitoring, special diets, and other medications prescribed by a veterinarian. These costs can add up over time, making it essential to have a plan in place for managing your cat's diabetes and associated expenses.
Can my diabetic cat go for 2 days without insulin?
It is important to never make any changes to your cat's insulin regimen without first consulting with your veterinarian. While it may seem safer to skip insulin to avoid the risk of hypoglycemia, this can be very dangerous for a diabetic cat and can lead to serious health complications. Skipping insulin can cause blood sugar levels to become very high, which can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), as I mentioned earlier. This can be a life-threatening condition that requires emergency veterinary care. On the other hand, giving too much insulin can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low, leading to hypoglycemia. This can also be very dangerous and can cause seizures, coma, and even death if left untreated. The key to managing a diabetic cat's insulin dose is to work closely with your veterinarian to develop an appropriate dosage and administration schedule. Regular blood sugar monitoring is also essential to ensure that your cat's insulin dose is appropriate and to detect any changes in blood sugar levels.
More on Ways To Save Money
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.