The objectives of this study were to establish the prevalence, risk-factors and comorbidities/sequelae for diabetes mellitus (DM) in Australian dogs presented to first-opinion veterinary practices.
Breeds at most risk included Australian terriers and Siberian huskies as previously reported, as well as, for the first time, English springer spaniels. In contrast to other populations, where there is female predisposition for DM, desexed male dogs in Australia were at increased risk for DM compared with both entire males and desexed females. This predisposition for desexed males to develop DM warrants further investigation. Future studies should also focus on the strong associations identified between canine DM and comorbidities such as pancreatitis and hyperadrenocorticism.
A nested case-control study was used to identify risk factors and comorbidities for DM by comparing the characteristics of the incident cases of DM with a sample of non-diabetic control dogs.
Data were available from 134,329 dogs attending approximately 152 primary care clinics, located in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. Four hundred and eighty-one dogs with DM were identified within the EPR, giving an apparent prevalence of 0.36% (95% CI: 0.33% – 0.39%).
The electronic patient records used in this study were created by veterinarians for their own use and therefore the exact diagnostic criteria used by the treating veterinarian were not always clear. Also, because of the limitations of clinical practice, gold standard clinical tests may have been substituted for less expensive, or more clinically convenient, tests.
The current study showed that DM affects 0.36% of dogs attending primary care veterinary clinics in Australia. The true prevalence of DM in the wider Australian dog population might be lower than reported in our study, as not all dogs will attend veterinary practices during a one-year study period and those that do are more likely to have a health condition.