Nutrition for Diabetic Dogs

Small meals prevent blood sugar spikes for Rover.
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Dogs can suffer from diabetes if they don't produce or process insulin correctly. In such a case, your vet may recommend treatment with prescription insulin, along with some dietary changes for Rover -- because proper nutrition is critical for dogs receiving insulin. The diet and medication will help prevent spikes in his blood sugar and keep him at a healthy weight.

A Happy Dog at a Healthy Weight

Obese dogs experience more issues with diabetes, because extra weight can make it hard for a pup's body to use insulin correctly. Overweight dogs with diabetes should eat a diet high in fiber and low in fat to keep them feeling full with fewer calories. Fiber may help your pup's body respond better to the insulin you give him. Underweight diabetic dogs, however, should avoid high-fiber diets, because they encourage weight loss. The diet for all diabetic dogs should include meat-based proteins and complex carbohydrates like vegetables and whole grains. These ingredients break down slowly in your pup's system so that they won't cause spikes in his blood sugar.

How You Feed Rover Is Important

With diabetic dogs, how you feed them is as important as what you feed. Single daily meals can cause spikes in blood sugar levels followed by crashes later in the day. To keep your pup's glucose levels as even as possible, feed him at least twice a day on a consistent schedule. Always feed your pup at least 20 minutes before each of his insulin injections. For a pooch receiving two injections, feed him equal portions of food, 10 to 12 hours apart. If your pup gets a single injection, give him two-thirds of his portion of food before his dose and the remainder at least six hours later.

Things to Consider and to Avoid

Choose a well-balanced canine diet for your diabetic pup that meets the recommendations of the Association of American Feed Control Officials. Avoid giving your pup treats or semi-moist foods that are high in sugar, and aviud other simple carbohydrates, such as those containing propylene glycol. For treats, give Rover pieces of dried or cooked lowfat meats like poultry or fish, and fresh veggies like green beans or carrots, which won't spike his blood sugar between meals. While lowfat diets aren't necessary for all pooches with diabetes, fats aren't good for a pup's pancreas, which is the organ that produces insulin in his body.

Prescription Diets and Vet Recommendations

Your vet can recommend a diet if she feels it will help control Rover's diabetic condition. Such diets include those specifically for weight loss, such as Hill's Prescription w/d or r/d, Royal Canin's Weight Control/Diabetic and Purina's Overweight Management wet and dry foods. If your pooch is a finicky eater, your vet may suggest keeping him on his current diet, because it's critical that he eats prior to each dose of insulin. Your vet may alo recommend another type of prescription diet to treat any other conditions that Rover may have, rather than one specifically for diabetic dogs.