Food and Diet for Diabetic Dogs

Like humans, dogs can struggle to properly break down carbohydrates in their diet – particularly sugars. This is caused by a lack of a hormone called insulin. In a normal healthy dog, the body produces enough insulin to whizz the sugars around the body to where they are needed. Diabetes is a condition where this hormone isn’t produced enough meaning the sugar concentrates in the blood. This can be extremely harmful to dogs as it can be to humans.

While it can’t be cured, diabetes in dogs can be treated and managed just as it can in humans – and diet plays a critical part in this management.

Although any breed, sex or age of dog can be affected by diabetes it is more common in middle aged dogs – and unspayed females are twice as likely as male dogs to suffer.

What are the symptoms?

While a proper diagnosis must be made by a vet to confirm diabetes in your dog, there are signs you can look out for. It can start with unusual hunger which is soon falters as their appetite weakens as they start to feel unwell.

Side effects of diabetes include a lower ability for your dog to shake off infections. This can lead to more persistent infections in the skin or urinary tract. If untreated it can cause cataracts and ultimately blindness, so it more than worth your while to look at your dog’s health for these warning signs:

  • Thinning, dull or dry hair
  • Excessive urination
  • Losing weight while being excessively hungry
  • Excessive thirst
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Lethargy

If you see any of these symptoms, your vet might want to run a simple test to confirm a diagnosis properly.

A diagnosis doesn’t mean your dog will live a short, unhappy life. With the correct combination of treatment and dietary adjustment your dog can live a happy, normal life.

You’ll probably need to give your dog insulin injections twice a day. The needles are usually very tiny and your dog may not even notice them.

Diabetes is very closely tied into your dog’s diet so controlling what they eat is essential to their health. You’ll be looking to give them foods that don’t create big spikes in blood sugar, but are digested more slowly throughout the day.

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All of these things are governed by one thing: routine. It is vital that you establish a pattern that works for both you and your dog and stick to it. This includes meal times, the food you give them, and their exercise regime. You can work on this in conjunction with your vet, who will be pleased to offer advice.

If you have a female dog, it is recommended that you have her spayed. Female hormones tend to raise blood sugar.

The right diet

Fibre helps slow down the speed at which your dog digests carbohydrates. A diabetic diet will therefore consist of higher fibre levels than in normal dogs. High fibre foods will typically have a great level of vegetable matter such as white beans.

As diabetes can also impair the immune system, foods with antioxidants and Vitamin E are strongly recommended.