One of the most common hormonal disorders that affect canines is diabetes mellitus, and it requires close and constant monitoring. Many affected dogs suffer from Type 1 diabetes, and controlling their diet remains one of the most effective ways to handle this disease. This is because your dog’s glucose level is directly impacted by the type of food it eats. Therefore, you must ensure your canine’s blood sugar is within healthy and acceptable limits at all times with the right food and insulin injections.
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In a healthy animal or human, insulin moves glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells, where it is expended for energy. Without adequate insulin in the body, blood glucose can become dangerously high, while cells are left to starve. Currently, there’s no known cure for Type 1 diabetes, but you can manage it with regular insulin injections, the proper diet, and lifestyle.
Feeding a Diabetic Dog
Diabetic dogs need fiber to thrive. Fiber comes in two types: soluble and insoluble fibers. Soluble fibers, such as fruit pulp, psyllium, and fructooligosaccharides, form a gel that keeps water in the bowel to soften stool. Soluble fibers work as probiotics beneficial to the bacteria in the large intestine.
The bacteria present in the large intestine break down the fiber-rich nutrients to feed both themselves and the animal’s colon cells and then improve bowel circulation and overall bowel health.
With viscous stools, blood sugar surges post-meal, and it is exactly what you do not want for a diabetic dog. Thankfully, with insoluble fibers, the stools can be bulked up, and this helps to activate the colon cells. Also, insoluble fiber does not add calories to the pet’s system when it is consumed, and it is also not digested by the colon bacteria.
As you already know, after meals, the starches and sugars taken in the food can cause a surge in blood sugar levels. For the diabetic dog dealing with fluctuating sugar levels, meals can elevate the sugar level even more. Insoluble fiber blunts this effect by slowing down the digestion and movement of food in the gut.
However, this can be tricky, as too much insoluble fiber can create a false feeling of fullness, and you don’t want that, especially for an underweight dog. For the overweight, diabetic dog, you want a high-fiber diet. This should be over 15% of the dry matter. For the average dog, however, a moderate amount of fiber; About 5-15% of the dry matter of the food is recommended.
Also, because the fiber content in the guaranteed analysis in your preferred food brand may not specify if the fiber is soluble or not, so you will have to check the ingredient list to be sure.
One common characteristic of diabetes is the increased triglycerides (fats) present in the blood. While dogs do not have to struggle with issues such as vascular disease, heart diseases, stroke, or cholesterol deposits like humans, controlling dietary fat becomes necessary if the canine is part of the 30% for whom pancreatitis has left the pancreas damaged and caused diabetes.
If this is the case with your canine, they will certainly need fat restriction. The dog may also need to be supplemented with L-carnitine to help in fat transport and use. However, for very thin diabetic dogs, a fat restriction may not be a good idea as it could worsen their condition.
High Digestibility Meals – Avoid them
There are many meals on the market intended for canines with sensitive stomachs. While these foods are formulated to aid their digestion, easy digestion could cause blood sugar spikes after meals, and this is an effect your diabetic dog does not need.
Soft, moist foods are also to be kept away from, as they are often preserved and flavored with sugars. As expected, these substantially elevate their blood sugar levels and so are not very good choices for diabetic dogs. Note, however, that these diets are not to be confused with canned meals as they are completely different and not as common as they once were.
General Tips for Feeding a Diabetic Dog
There are several dietary options for your diabetic dog, but the following tips are essential to properly control sugar levels regardless of the option or approach you choose.
Stick to the same amount of food and the same feeding time daily to prevent unnecessary fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
Meals High in Complex Carbohydrates and Fiber
High fiber and complex carbohydrate diet aids in the even release of glucose in your canine’s system and increase the gastrointestinal transit time. Again, be careful with high-fiber diets, especially with overweight dogs as they can give a false feeling of fullness.
Fat restriction is highly essential to avoid further complications; However, with a very thin dog, you’ll want to be super careful and involve a vet.
Work with a Vet
Before you make any changes or incorporate any recommendations, you have to consult a vet. He has been trained in the field and therefore knows how many calories your dog requires to attain optimal weight.
Canines with diabetes usually depend on insulin. However, the amount given can be regulated to sufficiently control its blood glucose level depending on its reaction to meals. This is where keeping its meals and feeding plans constant without making unnecessary changes comes in.
That said, if your pet’s exercise and diet plans stay consistent, its insulin requirement is expected to remain constant as well. Again, regular monitoring is required, and the injections and meals are adjusted as needed.
The Leaner the Better
Every single meal you feed your dog should be for one purpose – keeping your dog’s body weight as lean as possible or helping it lose the excess calories if overweight. While diabetes is not a direct result of obesity, overweight dogs are often less healthy compared to lean, healthy dogs.
Just because your dog has diabetes does not mean he has to miss out on all the delicious treats his fellow canine friends enjoy. Here we have listed our favorite treats for diabetic dogs to make sure you can still spoil your pooch when he deserves it.
Do you own a diabetic canine? What and how do you feed it? Please share with us your stories.
About the Author
Kirsten created The Pet Handbook with the aim of sharing her knowledge about pets, pet food, healthy habits, and more. All of her advice is based on years of her own experience with her pets, and feedback that she has received from grateful readers about her tips. If you want to know more please read the About Me page.