Diabetic Dog Food

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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.

Footnotes

  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
  • I wanted Henna to have surgery to remove the 2 cataracts, my niece she couldn’t afford it AND that henna was old would only live a couple years more. After she is gone I discovered that even with not so good credit I would have been approved by a company called Care something. Just now I found a animal hospital that does cataract surgery. I am going to call to find out the price. curious how much, I wonder if my niece actually looked for animal hospitals or just googled cataract surgery dog. If only I would have researched and realized henna should be eating low carb dog food, and asked the vet is the food you sale and are recommending for henna low carb or high carb? at this point I honestly feel either she is behind times OR hills is paying her to sell their garbage? so you feel if she had got insulin shots, and stayed on her orijen senior dog food no cataracts right? looking on orijen site now it’s in canada/canada higher standards for pet food.

  • Lisa

    Hi Debbi,

    I’m so sorry to hear about Henna Love. You’re not alone in your grief. It gets me mad every time I read about how another Vet has failed another diabetic dog!

    I’ve heard it all and seen it all when it comes to the horrors of this disease. Vets still prescribe high-carb dry foods, even though they’re responsible for so many diabetic complications.

    Vets generally treat diabetes the same way it was treated in humans 50 years ago. Usually the Veterinary world is 10 to 20 years behind the times compared to human medicine, but in the case of canine diabetes, they’re about a half century behind.

    I wish I could do something to comfort you. You have my sincere condolences.

  • my pure bred female lhasa apso Henna Love was diagnosed with diabetes. she was 10 yr. 4 months old. was giving her orijen senior dry food, told to buy and feed only hills prescription W/D. also 2 injections of insulin. started out with 1/2 cup food could not eat all in one hour gave shot after she ate. ended up vet said to give 1/4 cup food give her one hour to eat take away what she didn’t eat, can’t graze all day. had appointment for 30 day recheck. approx day 22 she developed one yellow cataract, looked like a tiny contact sitting on her eye. Day 27 she started to walk into walls, I carried her out to her grass to go she was very afraid and just went in circles. her water bowl was upstairs I think she was going upstairs for her water? she fell down all the steps, but she didn’t cry?? went for the 30 day recheck, henna was totally blind, she just layed on the dr’s exam table no strength at all. Vet said she had lost 5 pounds in 30 days. I didn’t want her to suffer any more, I did put her to sleep. My vet gave her an anesthetic to put her in a deep sleep (she was snoring). then she had an IV placed. Afterwards I started to research the dog food she was eating for the 30 days. I had a dog die after eating purina beneful about 5 years ago. Henna was eating the best Orijen dog food – I gave her regional red (high meat) and then I found the senior formula for her. If I had looked at the ingredients in the prescription food I would have never bought it! garbage! High carbs! when henna was diagnosed the vet took many blood tests some had to be sent out afterwards she said not as bad as I thought. and then in 30 days she is totally blind, loses 5 pounds. How can that happen so quickly?
    I originally took her to vet because she was drinking alot of water and having accidents after going out. I thought it was a bladder infection and was told diabetes. after reading the ingredients and knowing it has high carbs and is a plant based garbage dog food. I feel this dog food caused henna to get one and then a 2nd cataract, and then total blindness. in 30 days!

  • kurnia59

    Don’t give Hills diet food. Read the contents, full of fat and by products. I fed my dog Hills dry food for two days and her glucose went to almost 700! So I stopped and have been making her own food.

  • kurnia59

    Make his own food. I do. All commercial dog food for diabetic dogs are crappy! Just look at the contents. No wonder my dog’s GB was always high. DO you know vets get commissions from dog food company to promote their brands?

  • kurnia59

    Prepare his own food. I do. Hills diet dog food is horrible! I tried it for two days (per my vet’s advice) and my dog’s glucose went to as high as 700!!!

  • theBCnut

    Fiber is not protein. It is a carb, even if we don’t actually digest it. Calorie counts are calculated by burning the feed and fiber burns just fine, so it gets counted, even though dogs don’t get any actual calories from it.

  • justmeKC

    Not all fiber is carbohydrate. Green beans have fiber. Most veggies have fiber and if it is a carb but also a protein, think quinoa, it is a low glycemic index.

  • ChristySpeaks

    See my reply above to Nicholas Hylton. I’ve had great luck with Kirkland for three years.

  • ChristySpeaks

    I have two diabetic dogs. I feed them Kirkland canned food — turkey stew with peas. I’ve had them on it for three years and it’s working great. You get it at Costco and it costs $19.99 for 24 cans. I highly recommend it for your diabetic dog!

  • Maddy H.

    Thank you for the info on the pet treats.

  • dunny10

    It is these:
    http://www.hillspet.com/en/us/products/pd-canine-presc-diet-treats
    On the bottom right corner of the bag, it lists the letter-combo of the prescription food that it is compatible with. My food is W/D I think. They are adequate. I break them in half and give a half to the dog when he comes in from outside. Its kind of bland, but he seems to like it.

  • MainStreet

    Have your Mom talk to the vet about switching to a new food – Walmart has a 5 star brand – here is the review – http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/pure-balance-dog-food-canned/ any food purchased from the vet is always expensive. Bread should not be given to a diabetic dog; can give green beans as a filler.

  • Sugar Twins

    Hi MainStreet,

    Me and my pittie are both diabetic. One reason I don’t feed commercial foods to Sweetness anymore is the low carb choices are usually super high fat.

  • Maddy H.

    Happy to hear that dog is doing so well. I’m hoping that at some point soon my vet will allow me to give my dog a treat. What is the name of the Hills treats?

  • dunny10

    It has been going pretty well. My vet didnt quite stress the amount of routine, just try to feed every 12 hours. I also give him Hills treats when he comes in from outside that go with the prescription.

    He seems to be doing very well. We got the diabetes regulated it seems. No more excessive water/urination. He seems to have a lot of energy and back to his old self. He also appears to be in great shape due to the strict diet.

  • Maddy H.

    My story is similar to yours, Dunny 10. I have a 10 yr. old Maltese. She was recently diagnosed as a diabetic. My vet prescribed Hills W/D. She gets 1/3 cup X 2 daily. She gets 2 units of insulin twice a day. What my vet stressed is that she must eat at precise times. He stressed how everything must be precise. 15 mins. after she finishes eating, she gets her insulin. And…she is to eat ONLY twice a day at 12 hr. intervals. I feed her at 6 a.m. and 6 pm. No treats whatsoever in between. It is difficult because she only weighs 7.5 lbs. and I know she is hungry. However, her BG numbers are terrific. I bring her in tomorrow for another BG check (her third). They may reduce her insulin down to 1.5 or 1 unit. The thing I want to stress here is how keeping everything precise (amount of food and feeding times) was the optimum word my vet used. It’s takes a lot of discipline because I want to give her a little treat, but I don’t. She also has Cushings disease with a lot of hair thinning and itchiness. Supposedly, she is to remain on this food and feed times for the rest of her life. Ugh! To me that is punishment.

  • Crazy4cats

    Hi Nicholas-
    Check chewy.com to see if their price is any better. When one of my cats was on Rx food for a urinary tract condition, I ordered his food there after I sent them a copy of his prescription. I have no experience with diabetes so I can’t help you with the other part of your question. Best wishes for your mom’s little furry boy.

  • Nicholas Hylton

    My mother has a little 15 pound dog with diabetes. He is on a specialty food (Royal Canin) to manage his condition and it is working very well. Unfortunately, it is very expensive and my mother is having an increasingly difficult time paying for the food. Is there anything she can supplement his diet with to make the food last longer? Say, bread or vegetables or something else?

    Could she order it online and get a better deal? If so, where?

    Any suggestions would be extremely appreciated.
    Thank you!

  • Pitlove

    According to the company, the LiveFree line has been discontinued.

  • myboohbaby

    Hi,does anyone feed the dogswell LiveFree kibble?

  • Denise

    HI Paul. I have a Manchester Terrier a little dog and she is pre diabetic. I found your information on making your Rat Terriers food interesting. Would you give me your recipe so I know exactly how to make the food? About how much do you feed Daisy? how many times a day? I also have a Puggle, he is overweight and I think this would be beneficial for him too. How would I estimate how much to give him? I hope you don’t mind me asking so many questions, but with all of the articles I have read, yours seemed to make the most sense to me. Thank you so much. Denise

    My personal email is: [email protected]

  • MainStreet

    Hi Fed up… Fiber is a complex carb which levels the blood sugar longer (think candy bar vs apple); it’s still a carb but better – it doesn’t SPIKE the sugar. Kibble is bad for our diabetic pets, I don’t care how low carb they are (Wysong Epigen 90 is the lowest but very high protein). There is no diabetic dog food that is right for all diabetic dogs. Unfortunately, we have to figure out what is best for our personal dogs (if underweight, ok if higher fat content, overweight, lower fat, etc). On canned, I called Merrick and they emailed me all their canned food’s carb/protein/fat content. I attached my spreadsheet sorted by carbs) I highlighted pink anything over 53% Fat-to-Protein ratio. BTW, the carb count is grams per whole can. Also checkout the website Balanceit.com – gives you recipes for homemade food. For a diabetic recipe, you’ll need your vet’s approval but it’s easy. It’s a long journey but you’ll get there! I learned so much in just 7 weeks and still learning..

  • aimee

    Hi Fed up,

    When you have your next blood glucose curve done bring your pet glucometer to the vet. Have your vet run the samples on both your meter and their test.

    Occasionally a meter can be a “lemon” and give you wildly inaccurate numbers so you want to know that yours is working well before you trust the numbers from it.

  • Fed up

    Thank you all.. It really is frustrating– My dog is going in for a glucose curve next thursday and I bought a pet glucometer for home—

  • LabsRawesome

    Take a look at Merrick canned foods.
    Check out the grain free formulas.
    I would never feed kibble to a diabetic dog.

  • aimee

    Hi Fed up,

    From what I’ ve read when feeding a diabetic dog it is important to look at the whole dog and not just focus in on the diabetes. Things to consider.. is the dog underweight overweight or good body condition. What is the lipid profile? What are the dogs concurrent problems if any? ( chronic pancreatitis is a common cause of diabetes)

    The profile of the diet: fiber fat protein and carb levels will depend on the answer to those questions. A low carb diet may not be appropriate for all diabetics.

    The other important factor is will the dog eat the diet reliably to time the intake with insulin administration.

    Good luck.

  • theBCnut

    Honestly, IMO, I don’t think even the highest quality kibbled foods are appropriate for a dog with diabetes. They are still around 30% carbs or more. Canned food or a homemade diet that is mostly meat with some low carb veggies is the way to go.

  • Fed up

    So ..what to do ?? Higher protein-Low carb food?? — Senior Orijen– it has practically no carbs I’ve been told..

  • theBCnut

    Fresh food is best, but balancing the diet is very important. Is there a source of calcium in your dog’s diet? Maybe a little more research into making homemade dog food would be in order.

  • theBCnut

    Carbs do turn into sugars, except that fiber is a carb. I have no idea why vets recommend doing this except that the recommendations are old and haven’t kept up with research or common sense.

  • Fed up

    OK –I’m new to dog diabetes and confused as to how to help reduce a dog’s blood sugar.. The Dr. suggests a dog food high in fiber and carbs..Now–I thought carbs converted to sugar.. Why would I give a dog food high in carbs when I’m trying to reduce his glucose?? Latest read was at 475 —-

  • Lexie’s non

    Was it hard to adjust when u switched?. Did u give the same as on vetsulin she’s on 20 units 2 x day.

  • Paul Martinez

    I am going on 3.5 years with my blind diabetic Rat Terrier Daisy. I have stayed pretty consistent with a combination of boiled chicken and then a combination of brown rice and lentl/quinoa or all three. I save the chicken broth and us it keep everything moist. i make everything in batches and refrigerate. I reheat the broth and put all ingredients in the bowl with a small amount of Nutro weight management dog food. I mix everything in a bowl and throw in som broccoli or boiled eggs sometimes. She eats it right up and has remained fairly healthy. She is 11yrs old now and has only been to the Vet twice for Diabetic related incident. I know where the food comes from so it gives me a sense of comfort. My other dog eats it too.

  • pagelee

    Blue Wilderness Healthy Weight has 10% fiber and 9% fat…it really helped my dogs glucose levels

  • pagelee

    my dog got yeast in his paws when he first was diagnosed.i soaked his paws in vinegar and water 50/50(never straight vinegar,its extremely painful and too strong)you can also rub athlete foot lotion into his paws…just rub it in good so he doesnt lick it off.i found the easiest way to soak his paws was to pour a bath with about 4 inches of water,add the vinegar and have the dog stand in it for at least 15 minutes a day.in the summer a small kiddie pool also works.i had an awful time regulating his glucose levels and finally bought a cheap meter and strips and checked his sugar myself before eating and 4,5 and 6 hrs after eating.i called the results to my vet weekly and he had me change the insulin levels until we got it right.it was less stressful on the dog because he didnt have to go to the vet weekly.Sadly my dog ended up losing his eyesight 6 months in. he was diagnosed 2 years ago and does quite well blind.its amazing how adaptable dogs are.he is now 11

  • pagelee

    My dog is on insulin and after many tries i found Blue Wilderness Healthy Weight.It has the highest fiber of any dog food out there.fiber is 10.0% and Fat is 9.0%.It brought is glucose levels down about 50 points in 2 days.I feed him 1 cup plus a half a can of 4Health chicken stew per meal. (he weighs 100lbs and is a very tall lab…he is actually skinny and has lost 10lbs since getting diagnosed with diabetis and thyroid problems.

  • pagelee

    Our local Tractor Supply store also sells a dogfood called 4Health that is comparable to Blue Wilderness but much less cost.Blue Wilderness Healthy Weight has the highest fiber of ALL dry dogfood and brought my dogs levels down considerably,i feed him the BW dry and the 4health wet.99 cents a can.my Boston T gets the 4health for small dogs.

  • pagelee

    if you are in an area that has a Walmart,they have Novolin N for $25 a vial. my dog is on 40 U twice a day and he goes through a touch over 2 vials a month. No script is needed to get the Novolin N. Our local CVS sells the same exact insulin for $135 a vial! It is crazy how much they mark up insulin.

  • Hi Lexie’s non

    Please visit my new blog for diabetic dogs;

    dograp.com/diabetes

  • Hi MainStreet

    From now on I will be answering questions abut Diabetes on my new blog;

    dograp.com/diabetes

    Hope to see you there 😉

  • MainStreet

    Hey el doctor — I called Merrick and asked for further information on their cans … here’s what they gave me as ACTUAL per can:

    Merrick Grain-Free 96% Chicken

    Carbs: 2.05 grams

    Fat: 33 g

    Protein 37g

    Cowboy Cookout

    Carbs: 11.55 grams

    Fat: 18 g

    Protein 43g

    These figures seem unbelievably good in the carb department and Cowboy also in the fat… do you think I’m missing something? Merrick readily gave me a lot of information to help in my quest to find low carb/low fat for my little guy.

  • MainStreet

    el doctor — I called Merrick and asked for further information on their cans … here’s what they gave me as ACTUAL per can:

    Merrick Grain-Free 96% Chicken
    Carbs: 2.05 grams
    Fat: 33 g
    Protein 37g

    Cowboy Cookout
    Carbs: 11.55 grams
    Fat: 18 g
    Protein 43g

    These figures seem unbelievable – do you think I’m missing something?

  • Brook Pinkston

    Is this for diabetic dogs? What is the price for a comparable sized bag? (27.5 lbs.)

  • Patti Roberts

    I have checked all the sites and Chewy has the best prices of all. They ship and you get it in 2 days. They are great. If you don’t like the food or your dog won’t eat it then just tell them and they will refund your money no questions and you don’t have to send it back. They are great

  • Patti Roberts

    I agree it is a lot. I am trying to find a dry with high protein, low fat (under12%) and high fiber. I can’t afford the wd anymore. I do give whole earth beef stew canned but want a dry to mix with it to even out the glucose. Any suggestions for a moderate priced dry food.

  • Patti Roberts

    Your not reading the suggestions correctly. If they vomit…its means if they eat, you give a fill dose of insulin and then they vomit. Then you let th e m eat it so you know exactly how much of there food they have reeaten. All meals are monitored and weighted out closely. If you have just made there meal then there isn’t any toxin or poison in it. If there blood glucose level is low then of course it makes sense not to give the whole dose of insulin, that would just drop it to a dangerously low level.
    Warming the syringe of insulin under your arm or between your lips does not introduce bacteria because the needle is capped.
    You can not base an increase of insulin oh a high number. Each 1 unit of insulin has the potential to drop the blood glucose level 100 points. So if your lowest reading was 150 it could drop to 50 or lower and the dog would be hypoglycemic which is an emergency. The dog could go into seizures and die very quickly at those low levels. I suggert anyone who has questions about any advice that is given in that group just go and read what is posted, the reasons why and ask questions. Think for yourself and don’t post things like that last post without all the knowledge and reasons for doing it. There are very few vets that have the knowledge of treating diabetis..

  • Hi MainStreet

    You’re very welcome, and thank you for your kind words 😉

  • MainStreet

    Thank you Sandy, that helps clear up my confusion!

  • It is for the group average of 27%.

  • MainStreet

    Hi Dr. Mike and theBCnut – specifically, when I look at your review for “http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-reviews/before-grain-dog-food-canned/
    you state “the dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 46%, a fat level of 27% and estimated carbohydrates of about 19%.

    As a group, the brand features an … Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 27% for the overall product line”

    When you write: Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And near-average carbs when compared to a typical canned dog food. Is the statement ‘near-average carbs’ referring to the 19% or the 27%?

    I am comparing, looking and comparing again food for my diabetic dog. There have been many great suggestions on this site (el doctor) and I wanted to be sure I read your review properly. Thank you!

  • theBCnut

    Yes, the review formula, but if the other formulas in the line are much different from the review formula, they will be noted with a different star value beside their name up near the top of the review. Usually, if the formulas are in the same review, they share a great many characteristics. If they are very different, they get their own review. Dr. Mike tries to use an average formula from within the line as a representative in his review.

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