Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Diabetes mellitus in dogs attending UK primary-care practices: frequency, risk factors and survival

Heeley, A; O’Neill, D; Davison, L; Church, D; Corless, E; Brodbelt, D


A Heeley

D O’Neill

L Davison

D Church

E Corless

D Brodbelt


Background: Diabetes mellitus (DM) is an important endocrine disorder of dogs. The objectives of this study were to estimate prevalence and incidence of DM in dogs, and to explore risk factors for DM and the survival of DM cases in primary-care clinics in the UK.
Results: A case-control study nested in the cohort of dogs (n = 480,469) aged ≥3 years presenting at 430 VetCompass clinics was used to identify risk factors for DM, using multivariable logistic regression. Overall 409 new and 863 pre-existing DM cases (total 1272) were identified in 2016, giving an apparent annual prevalence of 0.26% (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.25–0.28%), and an annual incidence risk of 0.09% (95%CI: 0.08–0.09%) in dogs aged ≥3 years. Factors associated with increased odds for DM diagnosis were all age categories > 8 years, female entire dogs (odds ratio (OR): 3.03, 95% CI 1.69–5.44, p < 0.001) and male neutered dogs (OR: 1.99, 95% CI 1.18–3.34, p = 0.010) compared to male entire dogs, Border Terriers (OR: 3.37, 95% CI 1.04–10.98, p = 0.043) and West Highland White Terriers (WHWT) (OR: 2.88, 95% CI 1.49–5.56, p = 0.002) compared to crossbreeds. Dogs that had received previous glucocorticoid treatment (OR: 2.19, 95% CI 1.02–4.70, p = 0.044) and those with concurrent conditions (documented obese, pancreatitis, hyperadrenocorticism) also had increased odds for DM diagnosis.
Cox regression modelling was used to evaluate factors associated with survival in the 409 incident DM cases in 2016. Increased hazard of death following diagnosis of DM was shown in dogs that were ≥ 10 years age, Cocker Spaniels (HR: 2.06, 95% CI 1.06–4.01, p = 0.034) compared to crossbreeds, had a blood glucose (BG) level at
diagnosis > 40 mmol/L (HR: 2.73, 95% CI 1.35–5.55, p = 0.005) compared to < 20 mmol/L at diagnosis, or had received previous glucocorticoid treatment (HR: 1.86, 95% CI 1.21–2.86, p = 0.005). Dogs at reduced hazard of death included neutered dogs (HR: 0.58, 95% CI 0.42–0.79, p = 0.001), Border Collies (HR: 0.39, 95% CI 0.17–0.87, p = 0.022) and those starting insulin treatment (HR: 0.08 95% CI 0.05–0.12, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Certain breeds and concurrent health conditions are associated with an increased risk of DM. In addition to certain signalment factors, a high BG level at diagnosis and prior glucocorticoid treatment were adversely associated with survival of dogs with DM.
Keywords: Diabetes mellitus, Risk factors, Survival, Case-control study, Benchmarking, VetCompass


Heeley, A., O’Neill, D., Davison, L., Church, D., Corless, E., & Brodbelt, D. (2020). Diabetes mellitus in dogs attending UK primary-care practices: frequency, risk factors and survival. Canine Medicine and Genetics, 7(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 4, 2020
Publication Date Jun 10, 2020
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 22, 2020
Journal Canine Medicine and Genetics
Print ISSN 2662-9380
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 1
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations