What to Feed a Diabetic Dog That Won’t Eat

Pet parenting is a joy, but it can become a challenge when your four-legged friend refuses to eat, particularly when he’s living with a medical condition like diabetes. If you’ve been scratching your head wondering, “What can I feed my diabetic dog that won’t eat?”, this article is here to assist. We’ll explore nutritious options and ways to stimulate your dog’s appetite while managing diabetes effectively.

Understanding Canine Diabetes

Before we dive into the dietary solutions, let’s briefly understand diabetes in dogs. Similar to humans, diabetes in dogs involves irregular blood sugar levels due to inadequate insulin production or response. Managing canine diabetes requires a consistent and balanced diet, and timely insulin injections, making it imperative that your dog consumes his meals regularly.

Options for Diabetic Dogs That Won’t Eat

If your dog is turning his nose up at the prescription diabetic dog food, there are several other safe and appetizing options you can explore.

1. Vet-Approved Commercial Brands

Brands such as Royal Canin, Hill’s Science Diet, Purina ProPlan, and Eukanuba offer specially-formulated food for diabetic dogs. These brands employ veterinary nutritionists, ensuring the food is balanced, palatable, and ideal for managing your dog’s diabetes.

2. Home-Cooked Meals

If your dog prefers home-cooked food, websites like BalanceIt offer great recipe options. You can home cook meals like chicken or ground beef mixed with vegetables. However, it’s essential to consult with your vet for the right proportions and ingredients.

3. NutriCal and Baby Food

NutriCal, a high-calorie supplement, can be used to increase appetite. Adding some beef or chicken baby food (without onion or garlic powder) to your dog’s diet may also prove enticing. These options can help to ensure your pet gets the required nutrients even when he’s being finicky.

Feeding Tips for Diabetic Dogs

Beyond what to feed, how you feed your diabetic dog can also make a significant difference.

1. Warm Food

Just like us, dogs may find warm food more appetizing. Try gently warming your dog’s meal before serving to enhance the aroma and make it more enticing.

2. Small, Frequent Meals

Instead of two big meals, feed your dog small meals more frequently throughout the day. This can help maintain stable blood sugar levels and reduce hunger-induced fussiness.

3. Add Variety

To keep your dog interested in his food, consider rotating between a few vet-approved brands or recipes.

4. Avoiding Insulin on an Empty Stomach

If your dog refuses to eat, don’t administer insulin. High blood sugar is dangerous, but low blood sugar from insulin without food can be even more harmful.

Consult Your Vet

Always consult with your vet if your dog refuses to eat, as this could indicate an underlying issue. If your dog consistently refuses food, it may be time for a medical examination to identify any possible complications or illnesses.


Diabetes requires careful management, but it doesn’t mean your dog can’t enjoy his meals. From vet-approved brands to home-cooked meals, there are plenty of options to feed your diabetic dog that won’t eat. Your vet is your best partner in navigating this journey, so don’t hesitate to reach out for personalized advice for your furry friend. And remember, a little creativity and patience go a long way in managing your pet’s health and happiness.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Whole Grain Rice Safe for Diabetic Dogs?

While it might be tempting to supplement your dog’s diet with whole grain rice, it’s important to remember that rice is a starch, and a diabetic diet should be low in carbohydrates. If you do decide to include it in your dog’s meals, it should make up a small portion and always be whole grain for the added fiber. Consulting your vet on the right proportions and ways to incorporate it into your pet’s diet would be advisable.

2. What About Treats for My Diabetic Dog?

Yes, diabetic dogs can still enjoy treats! However, it’s crucial to opt for low-sugar, high-fiber treats. Carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or special diabetic-friendly treats from pet stores can be a good choice. Treats should be given in moderation and factored into the dog’s daily caloric intake to avoid blood sugar spikes.

3. How Do I Handle a Diabetic Dog that’s Underweight?

If your diabetic dog is underweight, providing a nutrient-dense diet becomes even more critical. High-quality protein sources like chicken, beef, or fish combined with fiber-rich vegetables can aid weight gain while keeping blood sugar levels in check. Additionally, your vet may recommend calorie-dense nutritional supplements. It’s crucial to closely monitor your dog’s weight and blood sugar during this period and adjust the diet accordingly.

4. My Diabetic Dog is Drinking a Lot of Water. Should I Be Worried?

Increased thirst is a common symptom of diabetes in dogs due to the excess sugar in their bloodstream. If you notice your dog is drinking more water than usual, and especially if it’s coupled with frequent urination, it’s essential to consult your vet. This could signify that the diabetes isn’t being well-controlled, and adjustments to the diet or insulin dosage may be required.

5. Can I Prepare Homemade Food for My Diabetic Dog?

Yes, you can prepare homemade meals for your diabetic dog, but it’s not as simple as serving him leftovers from your dinner. A well-balanced homemade meal for a diabetic dog must include a good quality protein source, fiber-rich vegetables, and possibly a small amount of complex carbohydrates. It’s essential to consult your vet or a pet nutritionist to ensure the homemade meals meet your dog’s specific nutritional needs and don’t exacerbate his diabetes.

6. My Diabetic Dog is Being Fussy. Could it Be Due to Pain?

Diabetic dogs can sometimes experience discomfort or pain due to complications associated with the disease, such as diabetic neuropathy. If your previously eager eater is suddenly picky or refuses to eat, it could be due to pain or discomfort. Immediate veterinary attention is advised in such cases.

7. My Diabetic Dog Won’t Eat in the Morning. What Should I Do?

This might be a sign of hypoglycemia, especially if your dog is receiving insulin injections. Always monitor your dog closely for other symptoms like lethargy, shivering, or disorientation. It’s crucial not to administer insulin if your dog refuses to eat. Contact your vet immediately for advice.

8. Is Wet Food Better for My Diabetic Dog?

While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, wet food can be beneficial for some diabetic dogs. It usually contains more protein and fewer carbohydrates than dry kibble, making it a suitable choice for a diabetic diet. Wet food also aids in hydration and might be more appealing to some dogs, which can be helpful if your pet is a fussy eater. However, the best choice of dog food largely depends on your pet’s specific needs and preferences, so it’s wise to consult with your vet.

9. What If My Diabetic Dog Throws Up After Eating?

If your diabetic dog throws up after eating, don’t administer insulin. Insulin lowers blood glucose, and if your dog isn’t keeping food down, it could lead to dangerously low blood sugar levels, a condition known as hypoglycemia. If vomiting persists, seek immediate veterinary attention as this could be a symptom of an underlying issue.

10. Can Exercise Help Manage My Diabetic Dog’s Condition?

Yes, regular physical activity can indeed help manage your dog’s diabetes. Exercise helps improve your pet’s insulin sensitivity, meaning their bodies can utilize insulin more effectively. It’s important, however, to establish a consistent exercise routine since irregular activity can lead to fluctuations in your dog’s blood sugar levels. Always consult your vet to tailor an exercise program suitable for your pet’s age, breed, and overall health condition.

11. How Can I Monitor My Diabetic Dog’s Blood Sugar Levels at Home?

Home monitoring of your diabetic dog’s blood glucose levels can be done with a pet glucometer. This device, similar to those used by humans with diabetes, requires a small blood sample, usually taken from the ear or paw pad. Regular home testing can help keep your pet’s diabetes under better control, and it can provide your vet with valuable information. However, always consult with your vet before starting home glucose monitoring.

12. My Diabetic Dog Is Always Hungry. Is It Normal?

Increased appetite can be a symptom of diabetes, as the dog’s body isn’t efficiently converting food into energy. If you find that your diabetic dog seems to be always hungry, it could mean that his diabetes isn’t being well managed and a consultation with your vet is necessary. Do not overfeed your dog to satisfy their increased appetite, as this could lead to obesity and worsen their diabetes.

13. Can a Diabetic Dog Eat Fruits?

While fruits can be a part of a diabetic dog’s diet, they should be given in moderation due to their sugar content. Low glycemic fruits such as apples, berries, and peaches are better choices. Always remove seeds or pits and serve the fruit in small, bite-sized pieces to avoid choking. Remember to count these treats as part of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

14. Should I Change My Dog’s Insulin If He’s Not Eating?

If your dog refuses to eat, you should consult your vet immediately. It is generally not recommended to administer insulin to a dog that hasn’t eaten, as this can cause low blood sugar. Your vet will be able to provide guidance on how to adjust insulin dosages during these periods.

15. Are Prescription Diets Necessary for Diabetic Dogs?

Prescription diets specifically formulated for diabetic dogs often provide the right balance of nutrients that these pets need. They tend to be high in fiber, which slows the entry of glucose into the bloodstream and helps control blood sugar levels. However, some dogs may refuse these diets due to taste preferences. In such cases, it’s essential to work with your vet to find suitable alternatives that meet the nutritional needs of a diabetic dog.

16. Can I Use Human Glucometers for My Diabetic Dog?

While it’s technically possible to use a human glucometer for your diabetic dog, it may not provide the most accurate results. This is because human glucometers are calibrated for human red blood cells, which differ from those of dogs. It’s best to use a pet-specific glucometer for the most accurate readings.

17. Is There a Cure for Canine Diabetes?

There is no known cure for canine diabetes. The disease can be managed effectively with the right diet, consistent exercise, regular vet check-ups, and appropriate insulin therapy. Advancements in veterinary medicine are ongoing, so it’s always worthwhile to discuss the latest treatment options with your vet.

18. How Often Should I Feed My Diabetic Dog?

Typically, it’s recommended to feed diabetic dogs two meals per day, timed with their insulin injections. This helps to ensure that the dog’s body has a steady supply of nutrients to use along with the insulin. If your pet is prone to hypoglycemia or has other health issues, your vet may suggest a different feeding schedule.

19. Can a Diabetic Dog Have Treats?

Diabetic dogs can have treats, but these should be low in sugar and carbohydrates. Some good options include vegetables like green beans or broccoli, and lean proteins like chicken or turkey. Always account for treats as part of the total daily calorie intake to avoid overfeeding and ensure treats are given in moderation.

20. Does Insulin Have Side Effects in Dogs?

Just like in humans, insulin therapy in dogs can have potential side effects. The most common is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can occur if the dog gets too much insulin, doesn’t eat a full meal, or exercises more than usual. Other side effects can include weight gain, allergic reactions, or resistance to insulin over time. Always discuss any concerns about insulin therapy with your vet.

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