The Importance of Food for Dogs with Diabetes

The Importance of Food for Dogs with Diabetes

If you’re an owner of a diabetic dog, one of the largest concerns is what the best food for dogs with diabetes is. Having a proper diet is one of the main ways to manage diabetes, which you must combine with exercise and medication. Having a diabetic dog is a challenge, but one that lots of research and care can overcome! 

So, what is diabetes in dogs? Diabetes, like in humans, is an incurable disease that causes a build-up of sugars and makes a dog’s body unable to properly utilize them due to a lack of insulin production. If not treated properly, diabetes is very dangerous and can have negative effects on dogs, including damaging vital organs.

This article will look at symptoms of diabetes in dogs, managing your diabetic dog’s diet, and what pet and human food ingredients you can provide that help improve your dog’s health. 

Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs

How do you know if your dog has diabetes? Some common symptoms include:

  • More thirsty than normal
  • Going to the bathroom more often
  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite

If you’re worried about your pup, you should get him tested sooner rather than later. A vet will be able to run simple blood and urine tests to check for your dog’s blood glucose levels!

Dog eating from food bowl

Also read our article about another common disease: DCM

Managing a healthy diet for diabetic dogs 

If your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind including what the best option is for feeding them healthy foods. It is important to understand that there is no one solution that fits all dogs with diabetes. In the first few months after your pup is diagnosed, there will be a lot of trial and error to figure out the best diet for your specific dog.

As mentioned before, it’s important to understand that a combination of exercise, diet, and often insulin injections will help your diabetic dog live a relatively normal life. When you look at the diet part of your dog’s health plan, you have quite a few options to consider. Some of these are larger changes; whereas, others are simple and easy to adjust.

All of these should try to achieve the same goal: keep blood sugar (ie. Glucose) levels as close to normal as possible.

Try a normal diet with modifications: If you want to continue to use a commercial pet store brand of dry dog food or canned meals, then you can speak to your vet. You can work together to create a controlled program with (often) small changes to ensure your dog’s optimal health. Some changes may include adding wet food or switching to a higher-quality brand.

Feed a prescribed diet: Many veterinarians can prescribe a specially formulated dog food geared towards diabetic dogs. You can also work together with a vet or pet nutritionist to create homemade dog food for dogs with diabetes.

Track water consumption: If your diabetic dog isn’t consuming excessive amounts of water, this is a sign your health plan is working. Remember it’s important your dog still has access to clean, fresh drinking water at all times.

Consistent feeding time: By feeding the same amount of food at consistent times of the day, you are able to avoid unnecessary fluctuations in glucose levels.


Overweight dog is unhappy

The importance of a healthy weight in dogs with diabetes

Why is it so important to make sure a diabetic dog is a healthy weight? Like in humans, a proper weight allows a dog’s body to use insulin and turn food to fuel more efficiently. Unfortunately, the disease can contribute to dogs being both under and overweight. What is effective for an underweight diabetic dog will not be suitable for an overweight diabetic dog.

If your diabetic dog is experiencing weight loss, their diet should consist of lots of protein and moderate levels of fats and carbohydrates. Protein, for example, chicken or beef, is a good source of high-quality calories that will help your dog put on weight. Having a moderate amount of carbohydrates and fats in your pup’s diet will give them a boost in energy.

Alternatively, if you have an overweight dog with diabetes, most vets will recommend food that is high in fiber and low in fat. This is because fiber makes your dog feel full and low-fat foods have fewer calories. It is important to talk to your vet about appropriate calorie intake to lose weight since they will make a recommendation based on the dog’s specific traits and activity levels.

Human ingredients to consider adding to your diabetic dog’s diet

We’ve talked about the fact some pet parents choose to use a modified commercial pet food diet and others decide to pick a vet prescribed diet for diabetic dogs. There are also ingredients most would consider human food that may help your pet with diabetes. Some of the best human food for dogs with diabetes include:

Vegetables you can think about include winter squash (cooked), carrots (okay both cooked or raw), parsley (high in fiber, low in sugar), leafy salad greens (ex. Kale, collard greens, and lettuce), and whole peapods (balanced in carbohydrates and fiber). 

Grains that are good for diabetic dogs include brown rice, wild rice, whole rye, quinoa, and buckwheat. Stay away from things like white rice or bread since they can increase blood sugar rapidly.

You can consider adding some of these ingredients to their current diet or talk to your vet about homemade food recipes that are good for diabetic dogs!


Woman preparing food at home

Homemade food for dogs with diabetes

Home cooking dog food for completely healthy dogs is already very tricky. If you have a diabetic dog, you need to be even more careful about homemade diabetic dog food! Because diabetic dogs need a very consistent and controlled diet, many vets advise diabetic dogs should eat commercially-made food that is appropriate or a specially prescribed diet. It is difficult to know which dog food recipes are actually suitable for diabetic dogs.

Nevertheless, if you do want to make homemade meals for your diabetic dog, the most important thing is to consistently talk to your vet or a pet nutritionist. Here are some other crucial things to consider…

  • Your dog’s diet needs to be consistent (so once you find a few similar recipes that work you should stick to them).
  • Any ingredients you use must be low in simple sugars (even important to consider when treating).
  • Meals should be high in unrefined complex carbohydrates and fiber. This will slow down sugar absorption and the overall digestive process.
  • A diabetic dog’s food must be low in fat because weight gain for dogs with diabetes will worsen the condition.
  • The quality of ingredients really matters here. Remember to use high-quality meat!

Also read Making Nutritionally Complete Homemade Dog Food

Is there a similar alternative to homemade food?

There are quite a few fresh food brands that may fit the bill for your diabetic dog. As we mentioned, it’s very important to discuss options and make a plan with your vet!

If you’re living in Vancouver or surrounding areas, you should consider Kafka’s Organic. We take the work out of home cooking and provide pet owners with homestyle, fresh pet meals for cats and dogs. Our mission is to make this amazing alternative more accessible to health-conscious pet parents because feeding healthy, natural food can give your pet so many benefits, including:

  • Better skin and softer, shinier skin
  • Easily digestible food means healthy, better poops
  • Helpful in weight management
  • Strengthens the immune system with natural vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from whole, fresh food
  • No additives or preservatives means they aren’t in danger of negative health impacts
  • More energy

Explore our menu or go through our feeding calculator to start figuring out how fresh to add fresh food into your pet’s diet. Talk to your vet about Kafka’s and your diabetic dog. All of the ingredients and key information are available and if you have additional questions, please reach out to us!


Dog eating Kafka's fresh food for dogs

Our meals are really hassle-free. You can order all of our products online and get them delivered all over the GVRD. All you need to do is unthaw a pack and feed it accordingly! Keep the rest in the fridge or freezer for future use. Sounds easy, so what are you waiting for?

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