The Importance of Diet with a Diabetic Dog

Besides regular insulin injections every 12 hours, the most important part of treating canine diabetes is diet. The regulation of the blood glucose levels (the levels of sugar in the dog’s blood) is the key to controlling and treating the symptoms of diabetes. Without a properly controlled diet, keeping the blood glucose levels within acceptable limits is going to be impossible. ANY food that your dog consumes has a direct impact on his blood glucose levels and different types and quantities have varying negative effects.

There is a lot of conflicting information on what to feed a diabetic dog, but one thing that my own research has found is that a diabetic dog needs to have a high fiber diet. Placing your diabetic dog on a high fiber diet can add greatly to the dogs need to lose some weight. Fiber dilutes the foods caloric content, so the dog is getting fewer calories per meal. This greatly aids in the dogs weight loss. As fiber absorbs water, it expands thus causing a dog to stop eating sooner. That’s because a full stomach signals satisfaction, and the dog feels fuller earlier and therefore eats less and consumes less calories!

A recent study showed that dogs fed a high fiber diet lost more than five times the fat mass of dogs fed a low fiber diet .As a matter of fact, trying to bring about canine weight loss without using dietary fiber makes the whole process needlessly more difficult and time consuming. Remember, fiber is found in vegetables and grains, because fiber is only found in the walls of cells, and animal cells don’t have walls. Meat does NOT contain fiber. Ella loves carrots and green beans, so I incorporate these ingredients into several of her treats. Fiber can also help in your dog’s stools, so if your diabetic dog is having regularity problems be sure that he is getting plenty of fiber.

Another important part of a diabetic dog's diet is regulating carbohydrate intake. Glycemic index is a ranking system for carbohydrates with the results based on their immediate effect on blood glucose levels. It compares carbohydrates in individual foods to give a numerical index of post-meal glycemia. The concept was invented by Dr. David J. Jenkins and colleagues in 1981 at the University of Toronto.

Carbohydrates that break down rapidly during digestion have the highest glycemic indices. Such carbohydrates require less energy to be converted into glucose, which results in faster digestion and a quicker increase of blood glucose. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a low glycemic index.

A lower glycemic response equates to a lower insulin demand and better long-term blood glucose control. You want your diabetic dogs diet to have a low glycemic level!

So, in a nutshell, the diet for a diabetic dog should be high in protein, high in fiber, low in fats and carbohydrates, but keep in mind that complex carbohydrates are okay in moderate levels.

Keeping your diabetic dog’s feeding schedule consistent is also extremely important! I try my best to feed Ella every 12 hours, and incorporate her injections of insulin directly with her feedings. I know that there is conflicting information as to when to give her the injection (I’ve read to do it right after eating, and I’ve read where it’s best to do it about 30 mins prior to eating). The most important thing is to choose a schedule and then to stick to it.

I’ve personally done it this same way for over a year now, and it’s what works best for Ella and me. I no longer have to chase her around the house, stressing about having to give her the shot. Now she gets excited to eat, and just as she’s taking her last bite I give her the injection, usually without a whimper! Do you have any diet tips for diabetic dogs? Let us know in the comments!