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Unfortunately, thousands of dogs around the world suffer from canine diabetes and that number grows every day. While having your dog diagnosed with this condition may seem like the end of the world at first, diabetes is easily managed with the right therapy and changes in diet.
Simply put it, diabetes occurs when the pancreas isn’t able to produce insulin which causes your dog to have trouble regulating his blood glucose levels. It’s not my intention to scare you even further, but if not properly treated diabetes can be fatal.
That’s why it is very important that you find the best food for a diabetic dog and follow your vet’s instructions regarding treatment by the letter. Listed below are 10 dietary options that will prevent your dog’s blood sugar levels from spiking and support his overall health.
Contents & Quick Navigation
- Quick Links For The Best Food For A Diabetic Dog
- Overview Of The Best Food For Diabetic Dogs
- Reviews Of The Top 10 Best Foods For Diabetic Dogs
- 1. Nulo Adult Salmon & Peas Recipe
- 2. Nutrisca Chicken & Chickpea Recipe
- 3. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula
- 4. Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe
- 5. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe
- 6. Wellness CORE Original Formula
- 7. Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D
- 8. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Canned Dog Food
- 9. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Canned Dog Food
- 10. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food
- Best Overall Product
- Best Value Product
- What Is Canine Diabetes?
- Breeds That May Be Predisposed To Canine Diabetes
- Important Things To Consider When Selecting A Diabetic Dog Food
- Four Care Tips For Diabetic Dogs
- Top Picks For Our Dogs
Quick Links For The Best Food For A Diabetic Dog
- Nulo Adult Salmon & Peas Recipe
- Nutrisca Chicken & Chickpea Recipe
- Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula
- Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe
- Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe
- Wellness CORE Original Formula
- Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D
- Instinct by Natures Variety Original Canned Dog Food
- Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Canned Dog Food
- Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food
Overview Of The Best Food For Diabetic Dogs
Canine diabetes and gastrointestinal problems
Joint & mobility issues
Weight loss & digestion
Digestive & joint health
Glucose management & urinary tract health
Shiny coat & healthy skin
Overall health & strong immune system
Food allergies & sensitive stomach
Reviews Of The Top 10 Best Foods For Diabetic Dogs
Let’s take a closer look at some potential food options for your diabetic pooch. Please note, some of the foods listed below may require a prescription from your vet.
1. Nulo Adult Salmon & Peas Recipe
The Nulo Adult Salmon & Peas Recipe is a 100% all-natural, high-quality dog food. It comes with 30% protein count, and 80% of those proteins come from animals, not plants. It is also low in carbs and features low-glycemic index ingredients which makes it a good option for diabetic dogs.
- Deboned salmon, turkey meal, and menhaden fish meal are the main ingredients
- Patented BC30 probiotic
This high-protein low-carb formula comes without glucose spiking ingredients such as corn and soy. It is also free from chicken and egg proteins which makes it a suitable food for dogs with allergies. The right mix of wholesome ingredients is reinforced with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics for optimal health and wellness.
- It has an ideal high protein count for diabetic dogs
- The low glycemic ingredients won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels
- Comes without filler grains
- Supports good digestion and optimal health
- Some dogs didn’t like the taste of this food, so there is a chance that your pooch might reject it if he is a picky eater
Overall, the Nulo Adult Salmon & Peas Recipe is a high-quality food with the right ingredients for diabetic dogs. While a bit expensive, it is definitely worth the money.
2. Nutrisca Chicken & Chickpea Recipe
The Nutrisca Chicken & Chickpea Recipe is a grain-free formula made without potatoes, corn, wheat, or soy.
With a 32% protein count and low glycemic ingredients, this dry kibble is a good option for diabetic pups.
- Cage-free chicken is the main ingredient
- Added vitamins and minerals
- Grain and gluten-free
The fiber-rich chickpeas will keep your dog’s tummy full for longer, and they won’t cause his blood glucose levels to spike. This food also contains antioxidants that support a strong immune system and chelated minerals for better nutrient absorption.
- Higher protein count will help your pooch deal with diabetes
- It has antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to support overall health
- Omega-3 & -6 fatty acids support a shiny coat and healthy skin
- Its low glycemic index won’t cause a rise in blood sugar levels
- Due to the higher protein count, some dogs may become gassy if not properly transitioned to this food
Overall, the Nutrisca Chicken & Chickpea Recipe is a moderately priced kibble and is a good dog food for diabetic dogs which will promote your dog’s health and wellness.
3. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula
The Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula is specially formulated to keep your dog’s glucose levels in check and prevent him from going into shock.
It is low in calories and fat, but high in fiber and proteins and allows better control of glucose absorption.
- Minimum of 35% crude protein
- Maximum fiber content of 10%
- Highly palatable recipe
Although specially formulated to minimize glucose fluctuations and to support normal blood glucose levels, this food contains wheat and corn gluten among the first five ingredients. While not necessarily a bad thing, this can be an issue if you are concerned about gluten allergies in your dog.
- Its high protein count helps maintain muscle mass in diabetic dogs
- High fiber count minimizes the chances of sudden spikes in blood sugar levels
- It is specially formulated to manage canine diabetes
- Reinforced with all essential vitamins and minerals
- A few customers noted that their picky dogs didn’t want to eat this food
- This is a prescription-only diet so you may not manage to order it without getting a prescription from your vet
A few customers noted that their picky dogs didn’t want to eat this food
This is a prescription-only diet so you may not manage to order it without getting a prescription from your vet
When it comes to glucose control dog food, Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula is one of the best you can find. While it is prescription only, it is well worth a trip to your vet.
4. Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe
The Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe is well-balanced and high-quality dog food that can work as an alternative for prescription diets for diabetic dogs.
It has a really high protein count (38%) and is reinforced with vitamins and minerals for optimal health
- Deboned beef and lamb meal are the main ingredients
- Grain and gluten-free
- High doses of glucosamine and chondroitin
While not specially formulated for diabetes, this food has the right mix of essential micro- and macronutrients which makes it a good choice for diabetic dogs. And since it doesn’t have poultry, it can be a great option if your pooch is allergic to chicken.
- Higher protein count helps diabetic dogs to retain muscle mass
- Glucosamine and chondroitin support joint health and mobility
- Fortified with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics for optimal wellness
- At 36% on a dry matter basis, this food has a slightly higher carbohydrate count than recommended for diabetic dogs
Overall, Merrick Real Texas Beef & Sweet Potato Recipe is a tasty and well-balanced option for picky diabetic dogs.
5. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe
With 11.5% crude fiber, the Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe is an affordable high fiber dog food for a diabetic dog. Basically, this formula is designed to support healthy weight loss and can be a great choice if your pooch has Type 2 diabetes.
- Deboned lamb is the main ingredient
- Reinforced with vitamins and minerals
- Low calorie and high in dietary fiber
Featuring wholesome grains such as brown rice and rice bran, this formula improves digestion and prevents blood glucose levels from spiking. Although the protein count is average rather than high, this food is low in fat and overall a healthy choice for your pooch.
- Its higher fiber count keeps blood sugar levels in check and improves digestion
- Essential antioxidants and vitamins support a strong immune system
- Made without GMO ingredients, artificial flavors, or preservatives
- Its low-calorie count will help your pooch lose weight and improve his overall health
- Due to lower fat levels, this food isn’t really palatable to picky eaters
The low glycemic Nutro Wholesome Essentials Lamb & Rice Recipe is a good option for diabetic dogs and one of the foods with the highest levels of dietary fiber.
6. Wellness CORE Original Formula
The things that make the Wellness CORE Original formula appropriate for diabetic dogs are its high protein and low carb count. This nutrient-dense food comes without meat by-products, wheat, soy, artificial flavors, or preservatives in order to support your dog’s overall wellness.
- Deboned turkey and turkey meal are the main ingredients
- Contains prebiotics and probiotics
- Low-fat content
Although it contains a higher calorie count than other foods from this list, the high protein, low fat, and moderate fiber count make the Wellness CORE a good option for diabetic dogs. It is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids for a strong immune system and healthy skin and coat.
- With 34% crude protein, this food will help diabetic dogs maintain their muscle mass
- Glucosamine and chondroitin improve joint health and mobility
- Highly digestible and supports a healthy GI tract
- It has a slightly higher calorie count compared to other commercial foods for diabetic dogs
The high protein and low carb Wellness CORE Original Formula is a nutritious and well-balanced substitute for prescription diets for diabetic dogs.
7. Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D
The Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D is specifically designed for dogs who have weight issues, digestive problems, or blood-sugar problems.
Often recommended for dogs with diabetes, you will need a prescription from your vet in order to purchase this food.
- It contains higher levels of L-carnitine
- High fiber count
- Low in fat
The high fiber count will provide a sense of fullness and soothe your pup’s hunger pangs and it will also help stabilize the fluctuation of blood glucose levels in diabetic dogs. This food also supports urinary tract health and weight loss and has added antioxidants to support a healthy immune system.
- Specially designed to stabilize blood glucose levels in diabetic dogs
- The high fiber count will provide a sense of fullness and improve digestion
- Reduces the risk of struvite and crystals in the urine
- L-carnitine increases energy and helps build lean muscle mass
- The protein count is a bit on the low side for diabetic dogs
- It is only available with a prescription from your vet
The Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D is specially designed to tackle several health issues in dogs, including abnormal blood glucose levels. You should consult with your vet to see if your pooch can benefit from eating this formula.
8. Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Canned Dog Food
The extremely low carb count of the Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Canned Dog Food makes it a good option for diabetic dogs. It is made of 95% meat and has a high protein count that diabetic dogs need in order to maintain their muscle mass.
- Cage-free chicken as the main ingredient
- High fiber count
- No grains, by-products, artificial colors, or preservatives
While this food has a low carb count, it is packed with nutritious fibers that will prevent your dog’s glucose levels from spiking and give him a sense of fullness. It also has more fruits and vegetables than other canned dog foods which are also supplemented to support a healthy immune system.
- High protein count helps build lean and strong muscles
- Highly digestible and supports normal blood sugar levels due to its 13% fiber count
- Comes in the form of a delicious pate
- Omega fatty acids support healthy skin and coat
- This food has a higher fat count than is normally recommended for diabetic dogs
Overall, although it comes with a higher fat count the Instinct by Nature’s Variety Original Canned Dog Food is a good option for diabetic dogs due to its high protein and fiber levels.
9. Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Canned Dog Food
The Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Canned Dog Food is packed with proteins but it has only 20% carbs on a dry matter basis. This grain-free formula is designed to be tasty and highly digestible.
- 44.44% crude protein on a dry matter basis
- Added vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Low-carb content
Made without grain, fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives, this highly digestible food features several protein sources including beef, beef liver, lamb, and wild boar. The moderate fiber count will help keep your pup’s glucose levels in check and keep his tummy full for longer periods of time.
- Multiple protein sources help build lean and strong muscles
- Made with prebiotic fiber to support healthy digestion
- Reinforced with all essential vitamins and minerals which support a strong immune system
- Its low carb and moderate fiber content make it suitable for diabetic dogs
- A few owners reported that this food made their dogs unusually gassy
- As with all other canned products, there is a chance that the cans arrived dented
Overall, the Taste of the Wild Southwest Canyon Canned Dog Food may work for your diabetic pooch since it has high protein, moderate fiber, and low carb count.
10. Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food
The Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food features only a few delicious ingredients and it comes with a 50% protein count on a dry matter basis.
It is also low in fat which is great for diabetic dogs and can be a good option if your pooch has allergies.
- Farm-raised turkey is the only protein source
- Low glycemic ingredients
- Free of common allergens
This high protein food has fiber-rich, low glycemic carbohydrates that will keep your dog’s blood sugar levels in check while providing a sense of fullness. It is also free from all common allergens which makes it an ideal choice for dogs with food sensitivities or picky eaters.
- Being low-fat and rich in selenium and phosphorus, turkey is a great ingredient for diabetic dogs
- Powerful antioxidants support a strong immune system
- It has a low carb count and low glycemic index which is essential for normal blood sugar levels
- A handful of high-quality ingredients for dogs with allergies or food sensitivities
- A few owners state that the cans arrived dented which is a common complaint of all canned dog foods
The Zignature Turkey Limited Ingredient Formula Canned Dog Food has only a few ingredients and it ticks most of the boxes when it comes to the unique requirements of diabetic dogs. Overall, it is well worth the cost.
Best Overall Product
Of all 10 foods I reviewed, I found that the Nulo Adult Salmon & Peas Recipe is the overall best. It is made of completely natural low glycemic ingredients and features the high protein count diabetic dogs need in order to function properly. It is also reinforced with vitamins, minerals, and probiotics for a strong immune system and proper digestion.
Best Value Product
While not the cheapest option from my list, the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula by far offers the best value for its price. It is specially formulated to keep blood glucose levels in check and although it is prescription-only, it is more affordable if you order it online.
What Is Canine Diabetes?
If your pooch is diagnosed with diabetes don’t despair! Diabetes mellitus or “sugar diabetes” is commonly seen in dogs. Although there is still no cure for this condition, diabetes isn’t a death sentence and your dog can still have a happy and fulfilled life.
To better understand this disease, you should know that diabetes comes in two forms:
- Type 1 diabetes: Also known as insulin-deficiency diabetes, Type 1 happens when a dog’s body isn’t producing enough or any insulin. This occurs when the pancreas is damaged or not functioning properly for some reason. Type 1 diabetes is most commonly seen in dogs, and pooches affected by it need daily insulin shots in order to function properly.
- Type 2 diabetes: Also known as insulin resistance diabetes, Type 2 happens when the pancreas is producing some insulin, but the body’s cells aren’t responding to the insulin as they should. This type is commonly seen in older and obese dogs, and can sometimes be reversed with weight loss, change of diet, and regular exercise.
Regardless of the type of diabetes your pooch has, its effect on his body are the same. It causes excessive sugar to build up in a dog’s body, but the cells that need sugar to function properly have no way to access it.
The Symptoms Of Diabetes In Dogs
Sometimes it can be difficult to spot the early signs of diabetes since they can be really subtle. That’s why it is very important that you keep a closer eye on your dog and react if anything seems amiss.
The most common signs of canine diabetes are:
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Urinary tract infection
These are just some of the signs of canine diabetes. A dog can also have seizures, an enlarged liver, develop kidney failure, or ketoacidosis.
Since this is a potentially life-threatening condition, it is imperative that you take your dog to the vet if you see any of these symptoms. In some cases, dogs get so sick that by the time they make it to the vet they have to be hospitalized.
Breeds That May Be Predisposed To Canine Diabetes
Unfortunately, it seems that certain dog breeds are more likely to develop diabetes than others. Knowing that your pooch is one of them will give you a chance to be more vigilant about the symptoms of this disease.
Breeds that are often diagnosed with diabetes are:
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Australian Terrier
- Standard Schnauzer
- Golden Retrievers
- Bichon Frise
- Puli dog
Note, although diabetes has been diagnosed more often in these breeds than in others, that doesn’t mean that your pooch will have it. This list should only alert you that there is a possibility so you can take the necessary steps to ensure that your pooch stays healthy.
Important Things To Consider When Selecting A Diabetic Dog Food
In order to keep your diabetic dog healthy, you will have to tweak his diet. And since your dog is at risk of obesity and frequent blood glucose spikes, it is very important to take your time to check the ingredient list.
Here are the things you must consider:
- High fiber content: Fiber is found in a variety of different ingredients and once ingested it will expand in the body. This means it will take more space in the digestive tract and will make your dog feel fuller for longer periods of time. More importantly, fiber will slow down the rate in which the glucose is released into the bloodstream, giving your dog’s body more time to absorb it.
- Low-fat content: Typically, fat is a healthy ingredient in the canine diet, but too much of it is a major risk factor for diabetic dogs. Since it is high in calories, fat contributes to obesity and too much of it can cause pancreatitis which will have an adverse reaction on insulin production. Overall, it is best if you stick to a low-fat diet for a diabetic dog.
- Reduced carbs: Compared to proteins and fats, carbs are a lot easier to digest and are the best energy sources for your dog. However, too many carbs can cause a spike in blood sugar levels right after the meal so it is best if you pick food with a lower carb count.
- Low glycemic index: Glycemic index refers to the rate in which food is converted into glucose. Low glycemic foods release glucose at a slower rate which eliminates the sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Fruits and vegetables are good examples of low-glycemic foods as are whole grains and legumes.
- High protein count: Compared to fat and carbs, proteins are the hardest to digest and absorb. This means that your pooch will feel fuller longer and ensure a slower rise in blood sugar. Thus, the more proteins present in your dog’s food, the longer it will take for them to be processed which allows for a steady rise of glucose.
Four Care Tips For Diabetic Dogs
Remember, knowing what dry dog food is best for diabetic dogs and changing your dog’s diet isn’t the only way to deal with diabetes. There are a few more things you can do to ensure that your pooch stays happy and healthy.
- Feed your dog on a regular schedule: In addition to finding good food for a diabetic dog, it is important that you feed your pooch at the same time every day. Most diabetic dogs require two meals per day but talk with your vet to come up with an ideal schedule for you and your pooch. By sticking to a schedule you will ensure that your dog’s blood sugar levels remain stable, and you can opt to feed him right before his insulin shot.
- Include regular exercise: Diabetic dogs can easily become overweight, so regular exercise can help a lot in keeping your pooch fit. Try to stick to the schedule and plan for walks or games of fetch that you can include in your regular routine. However, keep the activities light, since overexertion can cause blood sugar levels to drop suddenly.
- Don’t switch foods unnecessarily: Try to avoid making any significant changes in your dog’s diet, since this can cause glucose levels to fluctuate abnormally. If you think that your diabetic dog can benefit from a change in diet talk with your vet first so you can come up with a proper plan together.
- Don’t forget about treats: Treats should make around 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Considering that most of the treats on the market are full of carbs and sugars, you may unknowingly sabotage your dog’s health. Obviously, your dog can still indulge in an occasional protein-based treat, just make sure that you clear this with your vet first.
Having your pooch diagnosed with canine diabetes is certainly scary, but it is far from a death sentence. Although you will have to make certain changes in your dog’s lifestyle, he can still lead a normal and happy life for years to come.
One of these changes includes a new diet which is low in fat, high in proteins and fibers, and also has a low glycemic index. While it may seem that only an expensive prescription diet is going to cut it, you can easily pick and choose the best commercial dog food for diabetic dogs.
The best food for a diabetic dog will help you keep your pup’s blood glucose levels from spiking and save you from emergency visits to vet clinics. I recommend that you pick a few foods that you like and discuss them with your vet before you make a purchase. This way you will know that you made the best possible choice for your diabetic dog.
Top Picks For Our Dogs
- BEST PUPPY TOY
We Like: Snuggle Puppy w/ Heart Beat & Heat Pack - Perfect for new puppies. We get all of our Service Dog pups a Snuggle Puppy.
- BEST CHEW TOY
We Like: KONG Extreme - Great toy for heavy chewers like our Labrador Retrievers.
- BEST DOG TREATS
We Like: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites - One of our favorite treats for training our service dog puppies.
- BEST FRESH DOG FOOD
We Like: The Farmer's Dog - A couple months ago we started feeding Raven fresh dog food and she loves it! Get 50% off your first order of The Farmer's Dog.
For a list of all the supplies we get for our new service dog puppies check out our New Puppy Checklist on the PuppyInTraining.com blog.