Table of Contents
- What is canine diabetes?
- Managing your dog’s diabetes
- Dietary tips
- Nutrients to look for in diabetic dog food
- Foods to avoid
- The best diabetic dog foods
- Homemade diabetic dog food
- Diabetes in dogs is manageable — Simple lifestyle changes can help regulate canine diabetes.
- Stay consistent with feedings — Diabetic dogs should eat the same thing at the same time every day.
- Diabetic dog food should be high in fiber and low in carbs — This will help with weight maintenance, muscle mass, and digestion.
What is canine diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic illness that affects dogs just as much as humans. The most common kind of diabetes in dogs is diabetes mellitus, a condition that affects their ability to transport the glucose, or sugar, in their bloodstream to other parts of their body. Glucose, produced when the body breaks down the nutrients in food, fuels the body’s organs and cells. A hormone known as insulin is in charge of delivering that fuel from the bloodstream to the cells.
Canine diabetes is a rising health issue affecting as many as 1 in 300 dogs, an 80% jump since 2006. While diabetes isn’t curable, it is manageable with the appropriate steps. This starts with understanding the nutrition, exercise, and medical care diabetic dogs need to lead healthy lives.
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Managing your dog’s diabetes
While some cases of canine diabetes can be challenging to treat, major health complications are usually avoidable. You can regulate their blood sugar with:
Insulin injections. Veterinarians commonly prescribe insulin to diabetic dogs via injection. While the thought of giving your dog daily insulin injections might seem scary at first, it’s easier than it sounds. Most only involve a small needle injected under the skin — your vet will give you plenty of guidance as you familiarize yourself with the process.
Diet. Healthy meals help curb the negative effects of canine diabetes. Regular feeding schedules will ensure your dog eats and absorbs enough sugar to balance the insulin they receive. That means giving your dog the same amount of food at the same time every day. Diets for diabetic dogs are usually high in fiber and good-quality protein and work in small amounts of complex carbohydrates that help slow the body’s absorption of glucose.
Daily exercise. Keeping your dog active is a great way to avoid sudden spikes or drops in their blood sugar. Moderate but consistent exercise is usually best for diabetic dogs, but you should always ask your vet about the appropriate amount of exercise for your dog.
Dietary tips for managing canine diabetes
When it comes to the diet of a dog with diabetes, simple changes are key. Below are some vet-approved tips to try:
Adopt a new feeding schedule — Most insulin treatments are administered twice a day, so meals should be just as often. Both meals and insulin injections need to be given at the same time each day, so pick times you can stick to daily.
Substitute high-fiber food — Talk to your vet about switching your pup to a prescription food, one high in fiber. High-fiber foods can assist with diabetes management because the body is unable to absorb and break down fiber, preventing it from spiking blood sugar the way other carbohydrates can.
Nutrients to look for in diabetic dog food
Once a dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, proper weight management and a healthy diet become critical. The following nutrients are essential components of your diabetic dog’s new diet:
- Calories. While calorie intake will vary depending on your dog’s weight and breed, you’ll need to monitor your pup’s daily calories to ensure they don’t gain or lose too much weight, which can affect their insulin requirements.
- Complex carbohydrates. Look for a diet that’s high in complex carbohydrates like barley and soy to help stabilize your dog’s blood glucose.
- Fiber. As we mentioned earlier, a high-fiber diet can help.
Foods diabetic dogs should avoid
What to feed a diabetic dog to help manage their condition is as important as what you should avoid feeding them. Below are some foods to make sure to avoid:
- Semi-moist dog food. This food typically contains sucrose, fructose, and other simple carbohydrates that increase blood sugar levels. Read labels carefully and stay away from corn syrup and honey.
- High-fat foods. It’s best to avoid foods like peanut butter and Milk-Bones that are high in fat and carbohydrates. If your dog is overweight, you might also have to cut out treats for a while, even if you’re careful to feed them high-quality treats.
- Sugar. It should go without saying that refined sugar is a no-no for a diabetic dog. Sweetened dog treats can lead to spikes in glucose levels, followed by a dangerous drop in blood sugar.
🚨Research shows a link between diabetes in pets and their owners — if your dog has diabetes, studies say, you may be at a higher risk of developing the condition, too.
The best diabetic dog foods
Quality diabetic dog formulas have a low glycemic index. The lower a food’s glycemic index, the less it’ll affect your dog’s blood sugar level when they eat it. While there’s no single recommended diet for treating diabetes, these commercial dog foods are high in fiber, low in sugar, and specially formulated to help diabetic dogs thrive.
ZipZyme™ Omega is a natural, safe, and plant-based food for dogs that helps repair chronic health issues including diabetes. It’s designed to easily fit into your dog’s daily diet — ZipZyme™ is packaged in individual one-teaspoon daily servings that can be mixed into your dog’s wet or dry food. This exponentially improves the meal’s nutritional value, stops the continued accumulation of unhealthy fats and maintains a balanced metabolism. ZipZyme™ is safe and easy to mix into any of the diabetes friendly meals detailed below to help support and repair the effects of an unbalanced metabolism in your dog.
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Adult Glycobalance Dry Dog Food
This clinically formulated prescription dry dog food by Royal Canin helps balance your dog’s blood sugar levels after meals. It’s mainly made from chicken and barley, with high protein content to help maintain muscle mass and a good balance of soluble and insoluble fibers to keep glucose levels in check and help diabetic dogs maintain a healthy weight.
Farmina N&D Natural and Delicious Ancestral Grain Adult Dry Dog Food
The only grains this diabetic dog food contains are natural spelt and oats. It’s made up of 60% premium animal ingredients, 20% fruits, veggies, vitamins, and minerals, and 20% ancestral grains. It’s also non-GMO and gluten-free. Farmina N&D’s low glycemic index will greatly benefit your diabetic dog, and it contains natural antioxidants to keep the food fresh and delicious for them.
👉 Every dog is different, and the same formula might not be best for all diabetic dogs. Talk to your vet to determine the best food for your dog’s unique nutritional needs.
Homemade diabetic dog food
While quality commercial dog food is almost always best, there are cases where you may want to prepare homemade food for your diabetic dog. For example, if your dog is a picky eater, needs to gain weight, and they don’t seem to like any over-the-counter diet options, homemade diabetic dog food may be worth a try. Just remember that diabetic dogs need consistency to thrive, and frequent changes to recipes and ingredients (or mismeasuring your ingredients) can cause significant changes to their blood glucose levels and insulin needs.
If you plan on cooking for your diabetic dog, you also need to be careful about which foods you feed them. Foods that are OK to give to dogs with diabetes tend to have lots of fiber and a low glycemic index. These include berries and vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, and zucchini. You can also work high-quality protein into their diet with lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, and many types of fish. See a vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet to ensure you’re making the best choice for them.
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Frequently asked questions
Do diabetic dogs need special food?
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines , the type of food you feed a dog with diabetes is much less important than the consistency of the diet. Talk to your vet about formulating a complete, balanced, high-quality diet for your diabetic dog, and they should do just fine.
Should a diabetic dog eat grain-free food?
In most cases, no. Complex carbohydrates from grains like barley and brown rice can help stabilize a diabetic dog’s blood sugar. Grain-free food is only recommended if your dog has a known grain sensitivity.
What ingredients should a diabetic dog avoid?
Diabetic dogs should avoid foods containing sugar and other sweeteners such as corn syrup. They should also avoid foods that are high in fat or simple carbohydrates, such as white rice and bread.
Is chicken OK for diabetic dogs?
Chicken is fine for most dogs with diabetes. Just be careful not to season the chicken or use butter or oil when preparing it. If you’re going to feed chicken to your diabetic dog, boil it without seasoning.