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essential tips

The essentials

  • Diabetes in dogs can be managed — Knowing what to feed a diabetic dog starts with understanding proper nutrition. Exercise and medical care are also essential for pups with diabetes to lead a healthy life.
  • Create a new schedule and habits — Feeding your dog meals at the same time each day and going on additional walks are some tactics to try.
  • Switch your dog to a diet that’s high in fiber and low in fat — This will help with weight maintenance, muscle mass, and digestion.

You may think that diabetes only affects humans. This isn’t true. Our canine friends can also suffer from this insulin deficiency, especially Type 1 diabetes. While diabetes is most common in older dogs, it can also occur in younger and pregnant dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. In the past several years, diabetes diagnoses have been on the rise, with diabetes affecting as many as 1 in 300 dogs. This represents an 80% jump since 2006.

Dietary tips for managing your dog’s 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 — Instead of consuming big meals twice a day, dogs with diabetes benefit from eating several small meals. Both meals and insulin injections need to be given at the same time each day, so you’ll need to ensure you can stick to your new schedule.

Substitute high-fiber food — Talk to your vet about switching your pup to a prescription food. High-fiber foods such as these can assist with diabetes management.

Essential nutrients for diabetic dogs 

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.
  • Carbohydrates. Look for a diet that’s high in complex carbohydrates like barley and soy to help stabilize your dog’s blood glucose.
  • Fiber. A high-fiber diet can help.

What to 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. Typically, this kind of food contains sucrose, fructose, and other simple carbohydrates that increase blood sugar levels. Read labels carefully, and make sure to 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.
  • 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.

👉 A number of “people foods” are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. These include chocolate and xylitol, a sweetener that can be found in candy, bubble gum, and a number of items that fill many of our pantries.  

The importance of managing your pup’s weight 

It’s important that your dog not gain weight, as this will affect how much insulin they need and may cause their blood sugar to become unregulated. Excess body weight can also cause insulin resistance.

As a first step, you may want to get your dog on a prescription diet specifically for weight maintenance.

Regardless of the diet you choose, keeping mealtimes consistent is key. This is especially true if your diabetic dog requires insulin injections. It’s also critical to always feed your dog first before administering their insulin.

Additional ways to manage your pup’s condition 

Dogs that have been diagnosed with diabetes can lead happy, active lives. It’s up to you to integrate new habits into your daily life that will help manage your dog’s diabetes. Some of our favorite tips include the following:

Keep a food and insulin log — Try keeping a diary or log of your dog’s meals and medications. This will help you to remember exactly when and what your dog last ate, how much water they drank, and how frequently they’re going potty — all of which are important to keep track of.

Make time for more frequent bathroom breaks — Because of increased thirst, dogs with diabetes may need to be taken outside more often. That said, the frequency with which your pup needs to go out should decrease once their diabetes is properly managed.

Don’t skip your daily walk — Exercise is especially crucial for dogs with diabetes. Along with keeping their weight down, regular aerobic exercise can significantly lower plasma glucose levels.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the best food for a diabetic dog?

Your veterinarian can help you find the best food for your pup. Look for a food filled with high-quality protein, as well as fiber and complex carbohydrates. Also refrain from giving your dogs treats or human food that will counter your diligence in monitoring their diabetes.

What should a diabetic dog not eat?

Foods that are high in fat or contain sweeteners should be wiped from your dog’s diet. Read labels carefully on canned foods, and stay away from ingredients such as syrup, sugar, and honey.

How much should you feed a diabetic dog?

This depends on your dog’s weight and the type and severity of their diabetes. Work with your vet to determine the right amount of food for your dog.

Can you feed normal dog food to a diabetic dog?

You can, but look for food that’s high in fiber and complex carbohydrates. And keep in mind a brand of food with a fixed formula is preferred to one with an open formula. You may also want to consider a prescription food, which is your best bet for optimal glucose regulation.

How many times a day should you feed a diabetic dog?

Time their meals with their injections so that their insulin can do its job. You may want to feed your dog several small meals at the same time each day — rather than one or two large meals.