Best Food for a Diabetic Dog

Depending on your dog’s breed, there are several unique health concerns that you need to be aware of. One of the common and more severe conditions is canine diabetes. Similar to human cancer, this illness affects one in every 200 dogs at a particular stage in their life. Canine diabetes mainly affects the dog’s pancreas.

As a result, the body does not produce enough insulin to digest the amount of glucose available in it, leading to hyperglycemia or even death in extreme cases. Therefore, it is essential to ensure your diabetic dog always receives the nutrients it needs to live a prolonged and healthy life. Read on to discover some of the best foods for a diabetic dog.

Image for canine diabetes golden retriever

Hi! My name is Janet. Last year December, I found out my Golden Retriever has Type 1 canine diabetes. I got my furry friend when he was only eight weeks old, and we have been the best of friends ever since. My kids also fell in love with him as soon as he walked through the door, making the news that he had diabetes so heartbreaking for me.

I could not help but think that this condition would shorten his lifespan and impact his quality of life drastically. With the help of our veterinarian, I understood what canine diabetes was. I also got that my canine companion could still live a healthy life, as long as we made a couple of lifestyle and dietary changes.

What is Canine Diabetes?

Diabetes occurs due to lack of insulin in the body or insufficient reaction to the insulin produced. Once your dog eats, its body breaks down food into various nutritional components; including glucose. The pancreas produces insulin that aids various body cells to absorb glucose, a source of energy, from the bloodstream.

As a result, it lowers the blood sugar level; hence, a decrease in insulin production in the body. A dog diagnosed with canine diabetes does not utilize glucose properly, leading to glucose buildup and increased blood sugar levels. 

Canine diabetes is a severe disease, but also a manageable one, and sometimes, it is even reversible. It is common in certain dog breeds when they attain a specific age group.

According to Benfield’s Pet Hospital, there was nearly an 80% increase in the cases of canine diabetes between 2006 and 2015. Often, dogs develop ‘Type 1’ diabetes, also known as Diabetes Mellitus, which means there is a lack of insulin production in their bodies.

Lifestyle and environmental factors, such as obesity, genetics, and poor diet, can also lead to canine diabetes. ‘Type 2’ diabetes, also referred to as insulin-resistant diabetes, means the dog’s body does not use insulin effectively. 

Symptoms of Canine Diabetes

I first noticed my dog was not well when he did not eat as often as he used to. As a result, he lost tremendous weight and stayed in one place with seldom movement for most days. I decided to take him to the vet for a checkup, and that is when I found out he had diabetes. Some common symptoms of canine diabetes include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss (despite having a healthy appetite)
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive water consumption and thirst
  • Lack of energy
  • Cataracts
  • Vomiting
  • Fruity or sweet breath smell
  • Frequent urination and urinary tract infections
  • Weakness in hind legs

Medical treatment of canine diabetes

Diagnosis of diabetes in dogs involves urine and blood tests. For effective treatment of canine diabetes, it is vital to stabilize blood sugar levels and to attain healthy body weight. Depending on the severity of the disease, your vet will choose the most appropriate treatment plan for your furry friend.

A dog with extreme diabetes may need hospitalization in order to return its blood sugar level back to normal. One of the most common types of treatment for ‘Type 1’ canine diabetes is regular insulin injections, which takes the place of natural insulin production.

Your vet will help you establish the proper dosage of the injections since insulin requirements vary from one dog to another. In time, you can administer the injections personally with the appropriate guidance from your vet. 

Once the dog’s blood sugar level is stable, he may no longer require the injections. It is also advisable to spay female dogs to prevent the periodic surges of hormones associated with fertility that can affect blood sugar levels.

Home treatment of canine diabetes

Both ‘Type 1’ and ‘Type 2’ diabetes are severe conditions, which, if left untreated, it can lead to severe health complications. Dogs with ‘Type 2’ diabetes do not require regular insulin injections as dietary changes, oral medications, and weight loss is enough to manage it. 

Caring for a diabetic dog involves developing a healthy feeding and medicating routine as well as daily exercise. Dog owners of diabetic dogs need to closely monitor their blood sugar levels to reduce the risks of sugar levels spiking up or dropping down dramatically. 

Maintaining a daily log to keep track of dietary, exercise, and behavior patterns goes a long way in comparing it with your diabetes management program. Likewise, daily exercise aids in managing weight at a healthy level. Stick to a consistent schedule to prevent sudden changes in blood sugar levels.

Five things to look for in diabetic dog foods

In addition to medical treatment, your vet will also recommend dietary changes to help your dog lose weight and manage his blood sugar level. Some key characteristics of diabetic dog foods include:

1. Low-to-moderate fats

Healthy fats provide a source of energy for the body’s cells as well as support for the skin and dog’s coat. However, dogs struggling with obesity need a limited fat intake to reduce the number of calories in the body.

2. High in protein

If your dog needs to lose weight, lean protein is the best healthy diet for him. Concentrate on high-quality animal protein intake, such as turkey, fish, and chicken.

3. Low Glycemic index

Numerous commercial dog food brands contain a high amount of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are healthy only if they come from nutritious and digestible sources.

For diabetic dogs, limit carb intake and stick to low-glycemic carbs to avoid the spiking up of your dog’s blood sugar level.

4. All-natural ingredients

All dogs should eat a wholesome diet with natural ingredients. It is also best to stay away from foods with artificial additives when feeding diabetic dogs.

5. Highly digestible

Dog foods with supplemental fibers assist your dog to digest food and absorb the necessary nutrients. Fiber also helps in slowing down the rate of glucose absorption into the bloodstream; hence, controlling your dog’s blood sugar level.

The Best Foods for a Diabetic Dog

Often, veterinarians recommend low-fat, high-fiber, dry dog food for diabetic dogs. It is essential to work with your vet to keep your dog as healthy as possible and feed him food that fulfills the nutritional value of a diabetic dog.

Here is a list of some of the best foods for a diabetic dog.

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Commercial dog foods

1. Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Wellness Core Product Image

With high amounts of turkey and chicken, Wellness CORE dog food provides your diabetic dog with plenty of proteins and enough fuel for them to thrive.

There are no artificial additives, questionable meat by-products, or harmful carbohydrates, which are quite toxic to diabetic dogs. This 100% grain-free kibble consists of plenty of antioxidants, probiotics, and nutrients, which are essential for dog health.

This product offers a complete and balanced meal packed with essential minerals and vitamins from real vegetables and fruits. The presence of kale, sweet potatoes, spinach, and other sources of fiber helps in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels in dogs.

2. Orijen Original Dry Dog Food

Image of product Orijen Original

If you are looking for a simple and healthy choice for your diabetic dog, then this Dog Food is the best choice. Its fantastic nutritional formula is ideal for most canines as well as diabetic dogs.

This product has numerous nutrients and contains 38% high-quality meat ingredients, such as turkey and chicken, as well as some fish. The poultry provides your dog with nutrients while the fish offers valuable fatty acids and additional proteins. 

Similarly, Orijen food contains 20% carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. It includes a supple amount of vegetables like peas and beans, as well as plenty of fiber from kale, spinach, and whole pumpkin, among others.

3. Merrick Grain-Free Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food

Product image of Merrick Best Grain Free

This grain-free formula from Merrick contains plenty of ingredients to keep your diabetic dog healthy. It is free from fillers and simple carbs and does not contain any grains.

With high-quality protein sources like salmon, buffalo, chicken, and turkey and complex carbs like sweet potatoes, this dry kibble provides your diabetic dog with all the necessary nutrients. Furthermore, this top quality product also consists of Omega three and six fatty acids, which are vital for skin and overall dog health.

There are no preservatives or any artificial colors in this formula. The real deboned buffalo protein in the formula is what your dog will love instantly. Buffalo protein aids with gastrointestinal health and balances out glucose levels. The product also consists of chondroitin and glucosamine for additional health benefits.

4. Acana Heritage Free Run Poultry Formula

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The Acana dog brand promises to keep your dog as healthy, active and nourished as possible. Loaded with 60% poultry meat, including free-run Tom turkey, nest-laid eggs, and free-run Cobb chicken, Acana reinforces proteins and fewer carbs, perfect for your diabetic dog. 

Some of the carbohydrates in the free-run formula include pinto beans and peas. This product also consists of fibrous vegetables like greens and kelp, which helps in slowing down glucose conversion.

5. Nutro Adult Lite Weight Loss Dog Food

product image for natural choice

Nutro Healthy Dry Dog Food comes with whole brown rice and lamb, offering a diabetic dog precisely what he needs, without any additional calories.

This potent formula carries lamb, zinc, omega-6 fatty acids, and Vitamin B, providing a complete dietary package for your diabetic dog. 

This recipe combines high-protein ingredient sources and fiber for easy digestion and promoting the growth of healthy skin and coat.

It also encourages natural and healthy weight loss, without compromising your furry friend’s health. The product is free from artificial additives, soy, corn, and wheat. 

Home-made diabetic dog food

If you prefer making dog food from your kitchen rather than buying from the market, there are a variety of options to choose from. Often, pet owners believe these recipes are complex to prepare, but the reality is, they are quite easy to cook and effective in their functions. Here are some popular examples.

1. Chicken asparagus

image of dog eating chicken asparagus

Your diabetic dog will immediately fall in love with this treat that is made up of chicken with broccoli and asparagus. All you need to prepare this yummy meal is two cubed chicken breasts, chicken stock, asparagus, broccoli, and parsley.

Cook all the ingredients until they are tender and add brown rice. As a result, your canine companion will have the right amount of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids.

2. Fresh vegetables and turkey

This common home-made recipe consists of carrots, pumpkins, spinach, turkey, and cinnamon. Mix all the ingredients and store them in a dehydrating pan for at least six hours at 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  With this recipe, your diabetic dog will have all the nourishment you require.

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Tips on how to manage the diet of a diabetic dog

With regular consultation with your vet, your diabetic dog can live a long and healthy life, despite his condition. However, it is also vital to remember that a dog with ‘Type 1’ diabetes does not have to observe a specific type of diet.

Regardless, there are certain rules you have to follow to ensure your dog’s blood sugar level is at its recommended level. They include:

1. Regular feeding schedule

It is crucial to feed your diabetic dog the same amount of food at the same time every day. Usually, pets eat two meals per day. Set a schedule and follow it strictly. By following a regular feeding schedule, it is easier to monitor and regulate your dog’s insulin levels. 

When it comes to treats, keep away from high-calorie treats and pick delicious organic treats with healthy herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Such treats help in managing blood sugar levels and slowing down the rate of glucose metabolism.

2. Monitor the nutritional value of your dog’s meal

As discussed above, there are various nutrients you have to look out for when feeding a diabetic dog. Keep away from any artificial chemical additives, as well as high calories.

Choose natural dog foods with low carbs, low glycemic index, high-quality protein sources, and easily digestible. The more calories your diabetic dog eats, the higher the chances of developing more medical complexities.

3. Daily exercise

Regular exercise and walking go a long way in managing your dog’s diet as well as keeping him fit. Set up a strict exercise and walking schedule for your furry friend. Allow your dog to walk at the same time every day and with the same intensity and distance. Make sure the exercise and walks are not too tiring or intense for your canine companion as it may lead to a drastic drop in blood sugar.

The final word

With constant monitoring and planning, my diabetic dog is as healthy and as energetic as it has always been. Diabetes is a serious disease, even in dogs. If left untreated, it can lead to tragic results that may deprive you of your furry friend. 

A healthy and consistent diet is essential in balancing blood sugar. Support your diabetic dog by providing it with the nutrition it needs. Avoid any harmful foods and keep in contact with your vet. All the foods shared above are all great options for your diabetic dog.

If required, ensure you administer regular insulin injections at the same time every day. It is also crucial to keep and regularly update a daily log where you record the schedules as well as keep track of blood sugar levels.

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