If your dog has recently been diagnosed with diabetes it can seem very daunting and a difficult condition to manage over the long term. But the truth is; diabetes does not have to be such a hurdle in life for your dog and doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to manage.
The fact is you shouldn’t need to fear for the future as diabetes can be quite easy for you to manage for your pet and a dog with diabetes can lead a very happy and fulfilling life. It’s mostly a case of managing their insulin dependence with insulin therapy (which is needed for their survival) and managing their diet to make sure they are not over or under consuming glucose.
Our Top Picks
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a defect of either the production or function of insulin; a hormone produced by the pancreas which has the job of transporting glucose present in the bloodstream to the bodily cells.
The glucose that is in the bloodstream ends up there from the food that your dog eats. If the glucose is not transported or broken down effectively, this leads to your dog having a high blood-glucose concentration resulting in hyperglycemia that can cause multiple problems in the body if not treated.
There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 (insulin-dependent diabetes) concerns a lack of insulin being produced by the pancreas and is the most common in diabetic dogs and Type 2 is a defect in the insulin production and an abnormal bodily response to the insulin which is not as commonly found in dogs but instead in cats.
It is not known fully what causes diabetes in dogs exactly but as WebMD states, it is recognized that chronic pancreatitis, autoimmune diseases, obesity, genetic predisposition, certain medications and abnormal protein deposits in the pancreas can all play a role in the development of diabetes in dogs.
Symptoms Associated with Diabetes in Dogs
Not all symptoms may occur at once or at all so it’s important that if you suspect at all that your dog has diabetes form the presence or combination of any of these symptoms then please call or take your pet to the vet!
- Increased Thirst
- Increased Urination
- Weight Loss
- Change in Appetite
- Skin Infections
- Cataract Formation
- Unusual Sweet Smelling/Fruity Breath
What is the Treatment for Diabetic Dogs?
After diagnose which will involve and urine analysis and a physical examination, your vet works out treatment options that work best for your dog based on the severity of their symptoms.
Unfortunately for most, diabetes is usually discovered once the dog has already developed hyperglycemia and therefore dogs initially need hospitalization for intensive care and restoration of normal blood-glucose levels. Oral medication and a diet that is high in fiber is another treatment option for those who are not as severely affected as a means of returning the blood to normal.
Once initial treatment has been dealt with, the condition is managed. Typically insulin injections are used to ensure the glucose in your dog’s blood is being transported and not floating in the blood. Dietary management will also be required to keep a balanced level of blood sugars; not too low or too high.
How can Diabetic Dog Food Help?
Dry or wet foods are available which are specifically designed for dogs with diabetes. They usually have a low glucose, low fat, and high fiber content. Of course, dogs still need carbohydrates as part of a balanced diet and as a source of energy but in specially formulated food, these sugars are not present in high quantities.
The foods are also normally of very high quality, made with high quality, low carb ingredients and reducing the amount of “fillers” that you find in standard dog food. This gives them a healthier, more balanced diet to ensure they have a happy, healthy and long life.
Fiber is an important part of the diet for most mammals and plays an important role in the digestive system. It’s mostly present in leafy greens and vegetables and is important for diabetics as it can slow down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
Fat is also an important part of the diet, it’s used as a storage of energy that can be converted into sugars when energy reserves are low. This is why the fat content must be especially low for dogs with diabetes. It also contains far more calories per pound than carbohydrates and can lead to unhealthy weight gain.
Most importantly, of course, carbohydrates must be decreased in foods designed for diabetic dogs as it’s carbohydrates that are converted into glucose and are left in the blood when insulin is low. Foods have a measurement called the glycemic index which indicates how much of the food will be converted into glucose and this, in particular, is a factor which ideally would be low.
Our Top Picks
Hills W/D Low Fat Diabetic GI Health Dog Food
Hills offer a dog food formula which is sensitive to dogs that not only have diabetes but possibly gastrointestinal issues too. It’s low in fat to help manage your dog’s weight and manage their glucose levels whilst still tasting great!
The product claims that it is formulated by expert veterinarians and the reviews of the product say it is a great product; the only downside is its high price tag that could turn people off and lead to them seeking out other alternatives.
ROYAL CANIN Glycobalance Dry
Royal Canin is an amazing kibble blend for dogs with diabetes and it’s quite likely that your vet would prescribe or advise you get this brand for your companion. Although the food is very bland, it’s just what your dog needs for a healthy balanced diet whilst moderating the blood-glucose levels.
The food also has a very balanced fat and fiber content as it’s also a useful food for dogs with problems with digesting fiber. You’ll find that despite its blandness, dogs surprisingly take well to this food and like it over other brands and so altogether it’s very worth the price.
ROYAL CANIN Glycobalance Can
Royal Canin also has a brilliant canned wet food for dogs with diabetes if your dog finds the kibble off-putting. It can either be fed to the dogs alone or mixed into the kibble if your dog likes it that way, it’s a great way to make both products last longer.
In the same way as the kibble, it’s formulated to ensure a good balance of fats, carb, and carbohydrates to give your dog a healthy balanced diet keeping their diabetes and fiber sensitivities in check.
All Natural Diabetic Dog Treats
If you are looking for some treats for your beloved companion so that you can let them know when they have been good then look no further. These all natural treats are formulated from herb based ingredients which actually actively reduce blood sugar!
There are no added chemicals, sweeteners or flavors in this product and so it’s a tasty and great value for money method for you to train and treat your dog even if it does have diabetes!
Ella’s Diabetic Dog Treats
Another organic choice of treats for diabetic dogs is these dog treats by Ella’s Diabetic Dog. They’re very affordable and free of additives and preservatives. Made from sweet potatoes, they’re absolutely delicious for dogs and won’t contribute to your dog’s blood-sugar concentration.
As you can see there aren’t many products that advertise themselves as food for dogs with diabetes other than those two brands which are recommended and even formulated by vets themselves.
The only thing you can do in this situation is to go for the food that your vet recommends and if your dog does not like the food consult your vet about feeding strategies or ask them if they could recommend other food products that may be suitable.
After all, dogs can respond differently to diabetes and have varying levels of severity so what’s ok for some may not be so for others so for some individuals, products such as organic dog foods or even the following suggestions may be ok, just be sure to ask your vet:
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food
The reason Wellness CORE dog food could be a good choice of food for diabetic dogs is that it uses natural ingredients, is grain free and has no additions that you find in standard dog foods like soy, wheat, corn, by-products or artificial colors and flavors.
It means that the carbohydrates contained in this product will derive from meat based sources and so it’s a much more balanced and natural diet for your pet. The reviews speak very highly of the product and pets love it!
There’s a vast array of flavors available too some are very appetizing and luxurious such as “wild game duck, turkey, board and rabbit” or “ocean whitefish, herring & salmon”. Low fat, small breed and large breed varieties are also available, all to be bought in different quantities.
Rachael Ray Nutrish Natural Dry Dog Food
The Rachel Ray dog food brand could also be an excellent choice for diabetic dog owners. It too uses natural ingredients and does away with irritating additives and fillers which bring up the glycemic index. This leaves your dog with a naturally balanced and healthy food to support their active lifestyles.
This particular product also has added prebiotics which is amazing because they aid the growth of natural gut bacteria which help with digestion. The food is affordable and has great branding too, so be sure to ask your vet if this would be suitable for your dog.
Wellness Complete Health
Another great suggestion for those searching for a formula of dog food to help their dog through its unfortunate condition is Wellness. This dog food formula is a very well balanced kibble that provides your dog with a healthy, natural diet.
The main ingredients of this food are deboned chicken and peas and things like soy, wheat, corn, by-products and artificial colors and flavors are not present making this food choice friendly to your dog’s digestive health.
It has all the vitamins and nutrients your dog needs for a healthy lifestyle enabling them to stay active and to keep on doing the things they love most.