Diabetic Dog Food


The following items represent some of The Dog Food Advisor’s most frequently asked questions about diabetic dog food.

Where can I get suggestions for specific dog foods for my diabetic dog?

Diabetes is a serious condition and can be life threatening. The food you select can play a crucial role in your dog’s treatment. Consult your dog’s veterinarian first for specific product recommendations.

What kinds of foods make the best candidates for my diabetic dog?

Public information regarding canine diabetes and diet appears to be somewhat limited.

To help keep blood sugar stable, one should look for foods that contain moderate dietary fiber and a low-glycemic index.

How much fiber should a diabetic dog consume?

Although higher dietary fiber was initially believed to be beneficial, recent studies have suggested there may be no real advantage to high fiber diets compared to the moderate type associated with most commercial foods.1

What is the glycemic index?

The glycemic index is a scientific measure of how easily a particular food can be converted to blood glucose (sugar).

Dog foods with a low glycemic index exhibit less of a tendency to raise a dog’s blood glucose (sugar) level than others.

What type of dog foods have a lower glycemic index?

In general, dog foods with the lowest carbohydrate content exhibit a lower glycemic index.

Since most kibbles are carbohydrate based, low-carb canned foods should be given serious consideration when selecting candidates for diabetic pets.


  1. Rand JS et al, Centre for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, “Diet in the prevention of diabetes and obesity in companion animals”, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003;12 Suppl:S6
  • sandy johnson

    Hi Sandee

    I’ve been taking care of diabetic dogs for 18 years now. The only time I ever ran into trouble with very bad blood sugars and the complications that go with it was when I fed the prescription diets my vet recommended.

    When I prepare their meals myself they do great!

    I’m familiar with Just For Dogs.Their diabetic formula is too high in carbs for me but their facilities and their ingredients are top notch. I’m a firm believer in fresh low carb diets for diabetic dogs. Just For dogs is fresh and close to homemade. I would ask them to make a higher protein lower carb version of their diabetic food for your pup. Less starch and more protein will equal a healthier dog and you’ll be able to control their diabetes better:)

  • https://twitter.com/barbarajean1951 Barbara Langner

    Hello Sandee.I also have a Min pin that is 11 now and Diabetic a year now.She is doing good on her 6 units Humulin N AM and PM.I am trying her on Science Diet Light for small breed dogs.There is a great group on Facebook that has lots of help and info.Canine Diabetes Support and Information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CanineDiabetesSupportandInformation/

  • Sandee

    My dog is an extremely unstable diabetic who has had several bouts of pancreatitis. She is a little bag-of-bones minpin. I had her on dry W/D, which was horrible for her diabetes (dry food in general is bad for them). I had switched many months ago to to wet food W/D only which I thought had helped out quite a bit. She just got released from the vet due to a case of pancreatitis and they have been unable to control her blood sugars, PLUS she looks beyond malnourishedwhen they sent her home. I started looking at the W/D ingredients….which just don’t seem all that great. I needed to get her on a high protein diet with minimal complex carbs with low glycemic index values. I found a local (in Newport, CA) vendor called Just For Dogs who make an all natural, minimal ingredient food just for diabetic dogs and pancreatic support. I am determined to get my dog in the most optimal health possible with the most minimal amout of insulin necessary.

  • Lablover44

    oooppps, after I vent I see Sandy Johnson’s reply….sorry.

  • Lablover44

    I am in the same situation!! The food the veterinarian put my dog on is CORN!! It is Purina DCO and I have asked the vet several times why a diabetic dog would get corn and have not gotten a satisfactory answer. I called Purina and they said the fiber content is why they can be given corn. Bologna!!! It is all about money for them and I just want to do what is best for my dog. I have a Labrador and she is on 12.5 units but her levels fluxuate so much that I think a better food would help. Can anyone just a good quality food?

  • Cindy

    Yes at the pharmacy, we use Novolin N by Reli On, it is also equal to Humilin which we were prescribed first and then Walmart changed to Novolin and our vet said we could use either.

  • Kittenkeller60

    Cindy R u saying u got your insulin at Walmart cause I went on line to walmart and its saying they don’t have it ..R u using the brand vetsulin or R u using a different brand

  • Cindy

    Hi Dawn

    I have an 11yr old schnauzer who was diagnosed with diabetes 5 yrs ago. She gets 19 units 2X a day at $25 a bottle @ Walmart…lasts a month. I researched it and use Holistic Select senior dry food… $45 for 30lbs @ chewy.com. She goes to the vet each year and maintains 21 lb weight. Her gluclose is 127 on this schedule. I have 2 more very healthy schnauzers and they love this food also. I also add a 1/3 can of ScienceDiet canned light on top of dry for variety. Hope this helps.

  • Sabrina

    Nutrisca, orijen or live free

  • sandy johnson
  • Dawn C

    Hello, We are looking for a good dry food to feed our Pom she is 13 and was diagnosed a couple years ago. She has been on Hill’s W/D 1/4 cup twice daily since diagnosis. She did well with loosing weight and went from 2 IU twice a day to 1 IU twice a day. I just took her in today because she is now underweight. She has no fat or muscle. You can feel her spine like dinosaur bones. They said “oh 1/4 is such a small amount for that food increase it to 1/2.” Hello your the ones that put her on that and haven’t changed it. t took her having a seizure for them to lower her insulin after she lost all the weight.

    I am really very unhappy with the W/D I want to put her on a better quality food that will be more filling also. She is a starving little girl. I was looking at the ingredient list and can’t believe that she is on a corn based food corn equals sugar and starch.

    Thank you for all the help.

  • Anita

    Thank you so much for the info.

  • Anita

    Thank you Sandy, I use lean meats, brown rice, carrots, peas, probiotic every day. He takes multi-vitamin, omega-3 so I am still in shock that he is diabetic, he is only 3yrs old. I have three other dogs a Lab-mix rescue from the street, two Maltese-bichon sisters that were in the euthanasia list in the shelter, sick with pneumonia and by now you know that I LOVE MY DOGS. Mr. Wiggles came to my life when I had 5 dogs and I did not one another but I just hate to see dogs going to killing shelters. I order the Life Free to mixed with his regular food minus rice. Any suggestion about using Flax seed and barley? Any one using H2O2 food grade in the distilled water? I just read an article last night.

  • Dog_Obsessed

    It’s great that you want to start cooking for your dog! You will have to make sure you are feeding a complete diet, not just some protein and carbs. Dogaware.com has some good recipes: http://dogaware.com/diet/homemade.html

    Also, you could consider using a base mix. These mixes are designed to be part of a complete diet, and you add the protein source. Here’s some more info on base mixes: http://dogaware.com/diet/dogfoodmixes.html

    Good luck!

  • sandy johnson

    HI Anita

    use lean meats, chicken, turkey, beef, buffalo, venison,

    unsweetened applesauce, organic canned pumpkin, green beans, squash,

    3 parts meat, 1 part veggies

    Get a good supplement like wysong call of the wild or balanceit carnivore blend.

    alternate digestive enzymes and probiotics daily

    feed fish high in omega 3 once a week

    buy a book like Dr Karen Beckers Real food for dogs and cats

  • Brenda East

    Thank You For Your Help So Very Much.
    I went into petsense and with the help of a friend working there – compared labels of blue freedom grain free and natures recipe grain free – easy to digest, ( chicken sweet potato & pumpkin) Natures recipe has more protein than the blue. i also compared Natures to the hill science w/d – it was close on all levels. my dogs are loving this Natures recipe so i’m going to see if we can get by on this and the 2 two shots a day. so far so good. but only been a week. praying for a miracle. this Natures food is not cheap $60.00 for 24lbs. I found this on the internet : How to Quickly Calculate the
    Carbohydrate Content of Any Dog Food

    Basically, the bulk of all dog foods consist of four major nutrients…

    Moisture (water)

    In addition, all these products include something called ash. Ash is the non-combustible mineral residue that’s left over after burning away all the protein, fats and carbohydrates.

    Ash content usually measures about five to eight percent of each finished product1 . So, I routinely allow about 8 percent as a benchmark for this important variable.

    Together, the protein, fat, ash, carbohydrate and water content must account for roughly 100 percent of the total pre-cooking weight of any dog food.

    OK. Now, some simple math…

    Subtract the reported protein, fat, water and ash percentages from the 100 percent total. And you’ll get a fairly good idea of the carbohydrate content in that dog food.

    By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m ignoring the fiber content… it’s because fiber is actually a carbohydrate. So, its percentage is automatically included in your carbohydrate calculations.

    A Real Life Example

    Say a particular dog food contains 26% protein, 14% fat and 10% water. Now, allowing for an ash content of 8%… how much carbohydrate should you expect to find in that product?

    No problem…

    Simply start with a total of 100 percent… then subtract the protein, fat and moisture. And don’t forget to allow for an average ash content of about 8 percent, too.

    Carbohydrates = 100% – 26% – 14% – 10% – 8% = 42%

    In other words, if you remove all the “known” nutrients from the food, you’d be left with just the carbohydrates… in this case, about 42 percent.

    im hoping this information is correct. I used this to choose this Nature’s Recipe Food.

  • Anita

    Eileenindallas, thank you for the info. I will try with my Yorkie, the vet told me yesterday that he is diabetic. I cook for him, but I don’t know what to do now. Any one have a good recipe.

  • sandy johnson

    hi eileen

    What do you mean by wonderful regulation? My vet used to tell me when I was feeding his prescription foods that blood sugars between 150 and 250 was wonderful regulation.

    When I home cook or occasionally feed them a low carb canned food I can keep their blood sugars between 90 and 140 24 hours a day.

  • sandy johnson

    hi eileen

    I have 3 with diabetes. I adopted my first diabetic pup in 1997. Back then I cooked for them and they did great. I fed them a low carb diet because that’s what my husband on for his diabetes.

    A couple of years later my vet convinced me to put them on a prescription diet and things went downhill.

    When I cooked for them I had their blood sugars in a range between 95 and 160. On the prescription diet the best I could do was blood sugars between 150 and 250.

    I stuck with it the vet’s food for a year or two watching as they went blind and developed kidney disease. I kept trying and adjusting their insulin and trying different insulins and when I couldn’t take it anymore I started cooking for them again and now I keep their blood sugars between 90 and 140 24 hours a day.

  • NOB

    try this for a quick introduction to great food til you find a good fit..all natural 10lbs for $14.95 my dog loved it its way to expensive but the sample was great deal My girl is a diabetic and has never got her levels correct. Cost me 12k in 3 yrs for vet and hospital

  • eileen

    Hi Eileen,

    I’ve seen countless diabetic dogs that were once unregulated find wonderful regulation not only with W/D but with other prescription foods as well.
    There is no one perfect food for all diabetics ( wouldn’t life be much simpler ), all one can do is try a particular food that fits the needs of a diabetic and see how it works for their dog.

  • Brenda East

    My 13 yr-old Corgi has been diagnosed with diabetes and i have been
    searching the internet for a any type of food i for diabetes. My dog
    doesnt like the Hills science diabetes food – wont eat it. So i found a
    recipe for ground turkey and whole grain rice. I’ve been feeding my dogs
    ground turkey, with whole grain rice and now it’s so time consuming for
    me. Is there anything i can buy my dogs that they might like ? This
    recipe has cut her blood sugar level down but it’s impossible to get her
    to eat it and my other corgi a 4 yr old (not diagnosed with diabetes)
    wont eat if the 13yr old wont eat. I’m so frustrated !

  • ImAnIndependent

    Yes: Changed cold turkey.

  • Debbie

    Good for you, glad to hear it. Do I understand you correctly that you just switched him from one to the other all at once and kept track of his numbers? THanks again

  • ImAnIndependent

    I just started giving him Blue Freedom grain free since my other greyhound eats it. My wife is diabetic and she tested his blood using both products, He also used to get me up 2 or 3 times a night to pee and drank copious amounts of water. Didn’t get me up last night and his thirst has abated.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    First, the other Yorkie doesn’t have diabetes so he does not require a food specifically for diabetes. He should be eating just a regular food and enjoying the variety since he does not have a restricting condition.

  • David

    Thanks Sandy. Wondering if you could tell me a bit more why you wouldn’t suggest feeding the prescription food to our other Yorkie? Thanks!

  • ImAnIndependent

    I would not feed any Purina to any animal. Benefull is one of the worst. Open the bag and smell the formaldyhyde (which contributes to cancer,)

  • ImAnIndependent

    Try Blue grain free dry, My dog went from 266 blood sugar on Hill’s WD dry to 136 on Blue grian free dry.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    If you go to the forum section and do a search for diabetes, there are several conversations about it. Also, I would not feed a prescription diet to the other yorkie who does not have diabetes. If you do find a low carb diet option other than the prescription food, then both could eat that, for instance if you went with a low carb food such as Wellness Core canned food. A low carb option dry food would include ZiwiPeak or Only Natural Pet MaxMeat. If you look at these two food’s ingredient lists, you will notice they don’t include alot of plant matter (fruit and veggies) which are carbohydrates. Also, the protein and fat listed are actually minimum amounts, which means they are actually higher which means the overall carbohydrate content will be lower.


  • David

    Hello – Glad I found this thread as we are trying to acquire as much information as possible for one of our dogs that was just diagnosed with diabetes 2 weeks ago. After a stint in the emergency hospital this weekend due to the pharmacy giving him the incorrect insulin and this causing keytones and pancreatitis, he is home!

    Previously we were feeding him (and his brother) Cesar wet food with Royal Canin Yorkshire Terrier kibble. They sent him home with some Hills W/D which he picked at this morning. His brother came running into us with a look of “what the heck is that”? :) I asked the vet about some of the info on this thread and when I mentioned Wellness Core, they said we should stick to the Vet Prescribed ones as they are the only ones where information has been verified/proven.

    Has anyone received different info just in case our dogs do not like the Royal Canin diabetic food we already ordered. And our other dog (another Yorkie) does not have diabetes but they eat together, so we’ll have to shift him over to this diet as well. Hopefully he likes it and its good for him too. Any thoughts are appreciated. Thanks

  • Sabrina

    Please don’t do vet foods unless you read the ingredients and think its ok to feed your dog that. Live free, orijen and nutrisca are grain free foods that have a very low glycemic level. I just helped a customer onto live free and its the 1st time in 2 years her dog Jesse’s levels were down. She was eating the purina diabetic food! (one of the most disgusting foods I’ve seen) Please get educated and don’t just listen to me, someone else on here, or your vet. Be informed!

  • dogist

    HI eileen,

    You don’t understand the first thing about what it feels like to have a blood sugar of 50, or a blood sugar of 500. You can only guess what it is your dog is going through. I live it.

    I have been fighting diabetes.for 30 years now. I know what it feels like to have wide blood sugar swings, and complications. I know what it’s like to take the well-meaning advice of some Doctor or organization that thinks high carb, low quality, or species inappropriate diets are OK for diabetics.

    I know what it’s like to live that lie and the toll it takes upon you.

    And that is why I have chosen to share what I know, and to help diabetic people and dogs live longer healthier lives.

  • Eileenindallas

    Hi EIleen We have the same name:)

    I foster pups with diabetes. The Vet sold me Hills W/D said it was the best for diabetes dogs. They never thrived. Always sluggish developed cataracts blindness. Blood tests all over the place. High sugar-low sugar never knew from day to day how my pups would be. Broke my heart.

    Went to see a holistic Vet in July. SHe Told me W/D was the worst food for a diabetes dog. Switched to Evo and Live-free-half wet half dry. It was a miracle:) Kidneys improved. Energy improved we lowered insulin, sugars improved- everything evened out. Threw out the lastbag of W/D. Never feed Hills W/D .

    The Holistic Vet told me W/D was killing lots of diabetes dogs and every diabetes dos dog she treated did a million times better after switching to higher quality food. SHe said the ingredients were so bad for diabetes dogs.

  • eileen

    Hi Rita,

    There is no one specific brand of dog food that works well for all diabetic dogs, it is dog individual,what works for one may not for the next.
    There are dogs well controlled eating Hills W/D, to Royal Canin, Wellness Core to Purina One…just to mention a few.
    Read labels, try a food…monitor carefully and you can determine how that food and insulin works for your pup.

  • dogist

    Hi Rita,

    If your dog doesn’t have a problem with fat, Wellness Core Dog Food (Canned) is a good food. You could also look through the 5 star canned foods for anything low-carb (below 10%) that meets AAFCO nutrient profiles.


    Good Luck!

  • Rita

    Can you please give SPECIFIC BRANDS of dog food for diabetic dogs?

  • eileen

    Hi dogist,
    Thank you for your offer, tho I’ve been actively treating canine/feline diabetes…hands on…day after day, month after month, year after year for 10.5 years now…living with the disease 24/7.
    I have every confidence in that I know what I am doing, maybe could even teach you a few things with how an ACTUAL diabetic dog owner lives with the disease.

    Feel free to ask any questions you may have.

  • dogist formerly usa dog treats

    Hi eileen,

    I would love to help you and anyone you know figure out a way to overcome whatever obstacles you are having in regards to diabetes control!

    Please let your friends know they can come to DFA and post about whatever issues they might be having.

    They could go over their dog’s current age, weight, health, lifestyle, diet, insulin regimen, blood tests, etc, and we would see what we can do to help them out!

  • eileen

    Not entirely true, our diabetic dogs often DO require a carb source to prevent the rapid drop in glucose levels that is sometimes seen post injection.
    This more so found to be the case with Vetsulin users as the 35% fast acting portion will send the glucose levels too low too quickly unless there is a carbohydrate available to gently prevent this drop from occurring.
    This is often why some dogs will see hypoglycemia and/or rebounding issues soon after injection.

    The right carbs are NOT the enemy when matched to the injected insulin.

  • dogist

    Hi Jill,

    A low carb high protein, fresh, lightly cooked or canned diet is much more appropriate for ALL dogs than a starchy kibble. It is especially beneficial for Diabetic dogs.

    Thy Glycemic Index measures the Glycemic Load of different foods. Foods with a lower score release the sugars they contain SLOWER than foods with a higher score. So 28 grams of carbohydrates from table sugar is released faster than 28 grams of sugar from sweet potatoes.

    Unfortunately diabetes is a disease where the body is unable to break down carbohydrates and use them for energy. Since dogs have NO need for dietary carbohydrates and they are responsible for the complications that result from high blood sugars, I think you should look into a properly balanced, ultra-low carbohydrate diet for your diabetic dog instead of a starchy, overly processed kibble.

    Good Luck and give your pup a hug for me!!!

  • eileen


    Altho I think sources such as the GRI can be beneficial with general information I do not think they should be used as a determining factor with whether one food may work better than another for all diabetic dogs in general.

    With our dogs being type 1 insulin dependent diabetics and not type 2 where one works at controlling the blood sugar levels thru diet the glycemic index does not necessarily apply in the same fashion.
    I’ve seen many diabetics dogs who do require a carb source in their diets to help achieve good glucose control as many see a fast action from the injected insulin so require these carbs to help prevent that drop and to help flatten the curve.

    I do not believe the nutritional needs can be lumped into one category for every diabetic dog.

    As an example, for some dogs oatmeal causes a tremendous glucose spike, while for others when fed oatmeal it shows a slow release.

    Every single dog is different.

    Not sure if this even answered your question.

  • http://www.dfwpugs.com/ sandy

    I remember there was some controversy about the owner of the site. I just looked at the site and it hasn’t been updated with any new foods. Even previous formula lines are listed.

  • DogFoodie

    Hi Eileen,

    I’d be curious to know your opinion of the GRI. At one time, I once thought that it looked like a valuable source of information, but then it didn’t appear that the website was updated with any sort of regularity, so I stopped making referrals to it.


  • eileen

    Hi Jill,

    As stated in the text above, ” In general, dog foods with the lowest carbohydrate content exhibit a lower glycemic index.”

    Check labels, what works for one may not for the next, much also depends upon how your dog digests his food as well as processing his insulin, even the type of insulin being used matters when choosing a food.

    The glycemic index is based on human needs, it does not always work the same for our dogs.

    Our diabetic dogs generally do require carbs to some extent, again dependent on the dog.
    Some that feed grain free choices end up having to add an additional carb source to their dog’s diet to help prevent the sharp drop post injection that some will see.

    Much is trial and error.

  • Jill

    I really wanted to know what Kind of dog foods offer a low glycemic count. I have tried reading through your posts, but frankly it’s as if a bunch of children were on the play ground bickering. Could someone give me a few suggestions of dry foods that might be worthy? I know this sounds harsh, but I have just wasted a great deal of my time trying to read through this. I know your intentions are to help others, but it is all very over whelming. Thank you.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Do you seriously want me to post how USA dog treats links back to you? And fyi..all the info I found is PUBLIC and mostly provided by you directly.

  • dogist

    You just wrote:

    “When you use a business name as your “handle” on a public forum, its not rocket science to think someone would type said business name into google at some point in time. Not a whole lot of tracking involved in that”

    So when you previously wrote:

    “I did not find a single mention of your medical or veterinary degrees.”

    You were expecting to find that information in a search you did for USA Dog Treats?

    And are you also claiming that a search for USA Dog Treats is how you found:

    “great reviews on your (my) Pomeranian shaving and bathing skills”

    I don’t think you are telling the truth Melissa.!

    The truth is you used my name and other private information in your attempt to track me down.

  • dogist

    Amen to that.

  • Melissaandcrew

    Honestly I dont really care. I asked for credentials. If you are in fact a health care provider, great. If not then simply do not use language that may lead people to think you are. I am done with this conversation as its really nor fair to draw attention away from the purpose of this website.

  • dogist


    If you have any questions please contact me privately and I will be happy to answer them!

  • Melissaandcrew

    Lets get something clear. When you use a business name as your “handle” on a public forum, its not rocket science to think someone would type said business name into google at some point in time. Not a whole lot of tracking involved in that.

  • dogist

    She did try to track me down. In case you missed it:

    “You see, I had some free time this am, and while I found great reviews on your Pomeranian shaving and bathing skills, I did not find a single mention of your medical or veterinary degrees.”

  • dogist

    I thought it fair to let you know I edited my comment above.

  • theBCnut

    I felt that him saying you are trying to track him down was character assassination. Talk about pot calling kettle…

  • Bobby dog


  • Melissaandcrew

    I hardly find asking someone for credentials, who has given themselves a professional title of a medical care provider to be character assassination or accusation. However, the fact that you are removing that title (Diabetes Counselor) from your postings is answer enough.

  • eileen