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.
Diet for Dogs With Diabetes
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.
How to Feed a Diabetic Dog
Choosing an appropriate diet for your diabetic dog is very important. Due to their condition, they urinate much more than a healthy dog, so they are losing a lot of fluids from their body. This can quickly lead to dehydration.
Always provide a large bowl of fresh, clean drinking water and change this daily. A dog suffering from diabetes will drink excessively to try and combat the fluid loss caused by their increased urination.
Many veterinarians will advise a wet food diet for diabetic dogs as the moisture content is much higher than dry kibble. This will also help to reduce the effects of fluid loss for your diabetic dog.
When it comes to nutritional content, fiber is definitely necessary. Insoluble fibers are the ones to look for and are usually labeled as ‘crude fiber’. These fibers slow the digestive process and the absorption of carbohydrates, which is beneficial to regulating blood sugar levels.
Be mindful that increasing your dog’s fiber intake will also increase the amount of fecal matter the digestive system produces. To prevent any unwanted accidents, you may need to add additional walks or increase the amount of time your dog has access to the yard or garden.
If your diabetic dog is carrying a little extra weight, changing onto a lower calorie diet or offering smaller portions will help with controlling the diabetes. Remember, when changing your dog’s diet, it is best to do so slowly over at least a week.
Add a small amount of the new food to their current diet. If they tolerate the new food without any side effects, you can begin to increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old diet.
Your veterinarian may advise you on certain brands of dog food that are veterinary certified for dogs with diabetes. It is not necessary to choose only from what your veterinarian recommends, but you can compare those to other suitable brands by checking the nutrient contents and choosing the one you think is best suited to your dog’s needs.
Best Dog Food 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.
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Diabetic Dog Treats
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.
What should a diabetic dog not eat?
To ensure good control over your dog’s symptoms, maintaining the consistency of his diet is key. This means giving the same sized portions at each mealtime and keeping those mealtimes the same each day.
You should also refrain from giving any tables craps or leftovers as treats. This is because you cannot be sure of the sugar content in processed or cooked human food or how they will affect your dog’s symptoms.
When checking labels of dog food, avoid those that list things like corn syrup, sugar or honey. These foods contain fructose and sucrose which will raise your dog’s blood sugar levels and cause him to feel quite unwell. It will also make controlling his insulin more difficult.
Finally, if you are giving fiber supplements rather than feeding a high fiber diet, avoids those which have added sugars or sweeteners. The most common sweetener used in mass produced food is Xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
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