Diabetes in dogs can be a tricky thing. While proper care is essential, it’s also a costly endeavor. While I generally advocate to follow every stitch of advice your vet gives you, I realize that diabetes in dogs is highly expensive. To that end – and because I’ve seen dogs be put to sleep for this condition – I’ve decided to offer some advice to owners who can’t necessarily afford all the treatment that goes along with diabetes, specifically diabetic food.
Diabetes in Dogs Can be Heartbreaking
Like I said, I’ve seen dogs put to sleep over this condition. In one case, the owner was a total monster, however in all the other cases, the owners were sobbing and broken because they had to decide between putting food on the table for their kids and treating their pet. It’s a hard position to be in. That’s why I decided to address one of the biggest expenses associated with diabetes in dogs – food.
Food is one of the most important aspects of treating a diabetic dog. Proper diet is the foundation of every other aspect of treating diabetes in dogs. Without it, nothing else works properly. That’s why it’s key to do as much as possible to give a dog suffering from diabetes a diet that promotes diabetic wellness.
Related: When to put a diabetic dog down
Feeding a Diabetic Dog When Rx Food Isn’t an Option
While the best diet for a diabetic dog is prescription food, that isn’t always options. Sometimes the cost is too great. Sometimes, the dog just won’t eat it. When that happens, you have to start looking at foods that might not be for diabetic dogs but still have a better glycemic profile that runs of the mill foods.
To begin with, we need to address carbs. Carbs aren’t the enemy. The wrong carbs and the wrong amount of carbs are the enemy. Diabetes in dogs can explode without the proper diet. A diabetic dog needs complex carbs that digest slowly, and they need less than other dogs without diabetes.
A diabetic dog needs food that has no more than 30% carbs. Those carbs need to be complex. So you’ll want to look for a dog food with a carb source like oats and barley. You might think sweet potato would be a good choice, but where boiled sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index, baked sweet potatoes have a high glycemic index. Since dog foods aren’t boiled, sweet potato is a bad choice.
Next up is protein. Don’t be alarmed at the higher protein content in a dog food that addresses the needs of diabetes in dogs. When you cut carbs, you cut calories. Those carbs need to be replaced, and protein is considered an ideal replacement. While fats are good for your dog’s body, too much fat will cause weight gain. That’s counterproductive to diabetic treatment.
Fats are important to your dog’s health, but you don’t want too much. Generally speaking, look for a dog food that has no more than a total of 30% fat AND carbs.
How Often to Feed a Diabetic Dog
Diabetes in dogs is about more than finding the right food. It’s about feeding that food the right way. After you’ve found a dog food with low glycemic carbs and the right amount of them, you’ll still need to feed your diabetic dog in a way that promotes good health.
It’s best to break up your dog’s total food into three equal sized meals throughout the day if you can. This keeps your dog’s blood sugar from dropping too low. It’s also important to know that you SHOULD NOT give your dog normal treats. Treats only serve to spike blood sugar and add calories. If you must feed treats, give your dog green beans. They are full of fiber and have a low glycemic index.
Diabetes in Dogs – Feeding is Key
When approaching diabetes in dogs, it’s always best to use a prescription food if you can. However, that’s not always an option. If you look for food with the proper protein, fat, and carb ratio, diabetes in dogs can be reasonably well controlled on the diet end.
As always, if you have any questions, you should contact your vet immediately. While I may have worked with a vet for several years, I am NOT a veterinarian. Always consult your vet on any decisions you make regarding your dogs health, but especially diabetes in dogs.