There is no one-diet-fits-all approach to diabetes body condition pet favorites, and other diseases or medical conditions will guide the best diet for a dog with diabetes. Though there are some differing approaches for optimal dog nutrition with diabetes the one strategy that is most agreed upon is to keep the diet dependable use the same food, same treats, and feed and give insulin at the same time every day.
At Grah Kingston, we are providing quality Cat & Dog Nutrition Services. We are known as one of the best dogs & cat Nutrition vet clinics in Kingston.
What kind of diabetes do dogs get?
You may be familiar with ‘Type 1’ and ‘Type 2’ diabetes in humans. Type 2 is much more common in people and is associated with obesity and the body becoming resistant to the effects of insulin. Dogs are more commonly diagnosed with something similar to ‘Type 1’ Diabetes, or what we might call insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
Animals with Type 1 can no longer make insulin, often due to an auto-immune condition. Diet can play an important role in the management of both types of diabetes, but it should be used along with medical management and diet will never replace the need for insulin or other medications in diabetes for dogs or cats.
What nutrients are important for diabetic dogs?
Before selecting a ‘diabetic diet,’ we need to consider which nutrients are most important for your specific dog and use this to guide the optimal nutrient profile. The main nutrients to consider for diabetic dogs include water, calories, carbohydrates, and fiber.
Many dogs with diabetes have increased thirst and increased urination, so fresh, clean water should be available at all times. The ideal number of calories per cup or can of food will depend on your dog’s body condition and whether she needs to gain or lose weight to obtain ideal body condition. If your dog has another disease such as heart disease or pancreatitis or has high levels of fat in his or her blood, other nutrients such as sodium or fat will also be important to consider.
How does fiber help?
Fiber can be useful in canine diabetes, however, there are various types of fiber which can have different properties and benefits. The different types of fiber can be defined in a few ways, though dividing fibers into soluble and insoluble are good ways to categorize fiber.
Insoluble fibers, such as cellulose, add bulk and can slow digestion and absorption of dietary carbohydrate, which can be a benefit to sugar regulation for diabetic dogs. While the term ‘high fiber diets’ can be confusing, a rough estimate of the amount of insoluble fiber in a food is the crude fiber content. Of note, the percentage of fiber on pet food labels is ‘guaranteed analyses’ and thus only a maximum and cannot be compared between diets of different moisture or calorie content. Also, the crude fiber only measures insoluble fiber so it will not include any soluble fiber in the diet.
What about carbs?
Though it would seem logical to reduce dietary carbohydrate in dogs with diabetes for better blood sugar control, clinical studies have shown carbohydrate content in diets is not as helpful as fiber content for dogs
A diet is more than just the food you’re feeding!
Not only do we need to make sure we pick a diet with the right combination of nutrients, but we need to feed it consistently! Consistency of diet is an even more important aspect of diabetes management for most dogs than individual nutrient levels. Feeding the same food at the same time each day will help the dog’s body to better regulate blood sugar. Along with consistency and treats comes feeding an appropriate amount. Even the best diet, if we feed too much or too little, can make it harder to control the signs of diabetes.
Dogs with diabetes can be underweight, overweight, or even ideal weight, so focusing on achieving or maintaining ideal body weight can help you pick the right diet for your dog Higher calorie diets will be best for underweight dogs while lower-calorie diets important for overweight dogs. Some lower calorie diets are also higher in fiber. This is an example where there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet for diabetes in dogs: in the instance of an underweight dog, a high fiber, low-calorie food would be harmful if that dog cannot eat enough of the food to meet his calorie needs to maintain an ideal weight!
Do I need a therapeutic or ‘vet’ diet?
There are diets that you can obtain from your veterinarian at vet clinics Kingston or with your veterinarian’s approval that is designed specifically for the management of diabetic dogs. However, these diets are not ideal or necessary for every diabetic dog. High insoluble fiber nutrient profiles can also be found in some over-the-counter foods.
One advantage of therapeutic diets is that they may have better consistency due to more strict processing protocols compared to over-the-counter diets, which may have more batch to batch variability. It is also generally easier to obtain specific nutrient information from the manufacturer. You and your veterinarian may decide to stick with your pet’s regular diet initially but switch to a therapeutic diet if you are having trouble with diabetic control after starting insulin.
Regardless of the diet you pick, you should always beware of substituting flavors, textures, or even dry and canned versions of the same food. Each product may have a different effect on your dog’s diabetic control and you should talk with your vet before switching and monitor their diabetes carefully during and after a switch.
Tips for managing a diabetic dog
- Make sure you keep a diet journal and tell your vet everything your dog gets, including treats, chews, table scraps, and food used for medication administration.
- When considering higher insoluble fiber diets, the increased fecal bulk will result in more frequent trips to go to the bathroom. This may mean you need to schedule more walks during the day to avoid accidents.
- Dog diets specifically designed to be higher in fiber are a better source of fiber in most cases than just adding fiber to a regular diet as they can be formulated to still provide all the right dog nutrition.
- Canned pumpkin is popular with clients as a fiber supplement, but the amount needed to see an effect may unbalance the total diet (meaning the pumpkin would provide significantly more than 10% of the dog’s total calories). Avoid fiber supplements containing added flavors or sweeteners such as xylitol, which can be harmful to dogs.
Pet owners are welcome to visit our Animal Hospital in Kingston. Ongoing proper dog nutrition, leading to optimum health and performance is an important goal for every pet owner.