What Human Food Can I Feed My Diabetic Dog?

Changing your dog’s diet should always be a slow process to avoid shocking their digestive system, but for diabetic dogs, it is even more important that the changes be slow and carefully managed.

Dietary guidelines for diabetic dogs

Most cases of diabetes can be managed by diet alone or with a combination of diet and insulin injections. If your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will likely advise changing your dog’s diet.

Switching diets too quickly can cause a glucose spike, which may result in your dog suffering further medical complications.

Once you have organized your dog’s new diabetic food, start by adding just one or two tablespoons into their current diet. If they eat it without any side effects, then you can gradually start introducing more.

Continue increasing the amount of the new food by one or two tablespoons per day. Key side effects to look for are vomiting and diarrhea. This is a sign that the new diet is not suitable for your dog.

The change from old diet to new should take 3 to 4 weeks. If you have any issues changing your dog’s diet or you suspect their food is not suitable, speak to your vet. They will be able to recommend alternative brands and often sell specially formulated dog food direct from their surgery.

Do diabetic dogs need special food?

Yes. Since diabetic dogs cannot regulate their sugar levels, feeding them a diet with carefully balanced ingredients does most of this work for them. Standard complete diets do not contain the correct balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins for a diabetic dog to live a healthy life.

The key difference between a standard diet and a diabetic diet is the use of carbohydrates. Normal dog food recipes use simple carbohydrates which release sugars into the bloodstream quickly.

Diabetic diets use complex carbohydrates, releasing sugar at a much slower rate and preventing spikes in blood sugar. They will be low on the glycaemic index, which measures how quickly foods will be processed. The lower the number, the longer it will take for your dog to process.

The Honest Kitchen Grain-Free Chicken

The Honest Kitchen is one of the best brands of dog food by a country mile. Their dog food is ‘human grade’, meaning it meets all the criteria for food intended for humans. Most commercial dog food is ‘feed grade’. The Honest Kitchen even produces their pet food in a human food facility, using slow roasting and dehydrating techniques to retain as many nutrients as possible.

They use complex carbohydrates such as potato and pumpkin to support the management of your dog’s diabetic symptoms. Their recipe also contains whole foods containing beneficial antioxidants, probiotics and essential vitamins.

Royal Canin Veterinary Glycobalance Diet

Royal Canin is a trusted brand that was founded in 1968 by a veterinarian. All their recipes are based on scientific research and their Glycobalance diet is specifically formulated for diabetic dogs.

This recipe is high in protein to support healthy muscle mass and low in starch. The only downside to this brand is that they use some grain fillers such as barley and wheat gluten.

American Journey Chicken and Sweet Potato

American Journey’s chicken and sweet potato recipe is grain-free and low on the glycaemic index, making it perfect for your diabetic dog. They use sweet potato as a complex carbohydrate for the slow release of sugars and better control of your dog’s glucose levels.

Their recipe is supplemented with healthy ingredients providing antioxidants, omega fatty acids, probiotics and essential vitamins such as Vitamin A, B12 and E. Their whole food ingredients support overall health including eyes, skin and coat, digestion, joints and brain development.

What treats can you feed a diabetic dog?

When it comes to giving your diabetic dog treats, the best option is fresh boiled chicken pieces or natural treats made with fresh ingredients.

You can give your dog diced pumpkin as this is a complex carbohydrate and will release sugars slowly. Fruits such as blueberry are packed full of antioxidants and vitamins.

If you prefer to buy your dog treats, choose brands that list the protein source first, as this means it is the main ingredient. Fresh meat is better than meat meal as it means the meat has not been dried or powdered and will have retained more nutrients.

The treats you choose should be high in protein and low to moderate on fat content. Brands that use natural ingredients are much better than the more commercially produced products.

Avoid treats that contain grains, gluten, added sugars, preservatives or artificial colors. These ingredients can interfere with the management of your dog’s diabetes.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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