Diabetic Dogs Treatment: Feeding Guide, Food Calculator & Care

If your dog lives with diabetes, that is not the end. It can still live happily and socialize as though it is in its best state of health. The good news is diabetes in dogs can be managed with a proper diet. All the dog requires is moderation in food and feeding as well as care.

Diabetes relates to the imbalance of blood glucose. The dog only needs the right amount of glucose in their bloodstream to live happily. There are no two forms of diabetes, it is exactly how humans living with diabetes feel, diabetic dogs feel. The control measure is the same, though, the cost and emotional commitments may differ. 

This article provides comprehensive answers to the feeding of diabetic dogs using the diabetic dog food calculator as well as food considerations and ingredients. It further reveals the care and management tips for diabetic dogs. You would find it resourceful.

An Overview of Diabetes In Dogs

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases that affects dogs. It is estimated that 1 in 500 dogs between the age of 7 – 9 years old in the United States suffer from this disease. Research has shown that female dogs are 3 times more vulnerable than male dogs.

Diabetes in dogs is a disease characterized by insulin deficiency or insulin resistance. Insulin deficiency occurs when the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin. The inability of the dog to effectively utilize insulin is termed insulin resistance. 

These two conditions are harmful to the dog’s health as they both lead to an increase in blood glucose levels in the bloodstream. Dogs diagnosed with either of these conditions are termed diabetic. Diabetes can cause serious damage to vital organs which can lead to death if left untreated. 

The only treatment strategy for diabetes in dogs is to control the blood sugar levels through insulin injections and modification in diet. Diabetic dogs, aside from the daily insulin injection medication, have unique nutrient requirements, feeding schedules, and amounts of food to eat. This is inline with the amount of glucose in the bloodstream.   

When a dog is diabetic, the following signs can be seen:

  • Tiredness and lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Drinking excess water (polydipsia)
  • Excessive urination (polyuria)
  • Eye cataracts
  • Chronic infections
  • Sweet smelling breath

Nutrient Requirement for Dogs with Diabetes

While it has been established that controlling the blood glucose level as recommended by a veterinarian is the only way to treat diabetes in dogs, restrictions and adjustments in the diet of a diabetic dog become necessary. Here are the nutrients needed by diabetic dogs.


The main purpose of carbohydrates in dog food is to supply energy. Carbohydrate is made available to dogs as starch and the end product of carbohydrate, after digestion, is glucose, usually deposited in the bloodstream. Dog food with high starch content can increase the glucose level in the blood which is detrimental to the dog. Diabetic dogs require a low starch diet to moderate the glucose level in the dog after eating.


The purpose of protein in a dog’s diet is to help build muscles, repair worn-out tissues, and can also serve as an energy source. Diabetic dogs need a high-protein diet. The increase in protein in dog food will reduce the need for carbohydrates. Protein-rich food suitable for diabetic dogs includes poultry products, fish, beef, animal organs (heart, liver, kidney, lungs), and grains like soybean.


Fiber is the most important food component in diabetic dog food. It slows the entrance of glucose into the bloodstream by its slow digestion process. Fiber makes the dog feel full with small meals, making it less possible for an upshoot of glucose in the bloodstream.

There are two categories of fiber, the soluble fiber that dissolves in water, examples are Beet pulp, guar gum, and psyllium; and the insoluble fiber that does not dissolve in water; the insoluble gives the bulkiness effect. The Insoluble fibers, like cellulose, causes the bulk effect in dogs and can slow digestion and absorption of dietary carbohydrate, which can be a benefit to sugar regulation for diabetic dogs.

Generally, foods that contain both soluble and insoluble fiber are great for a diabetic dog’s diet. However, as good as fiber is to diabetic dogs, it absorbs water from the dog’s body resulting in constipation and other digestion problems. The only way to overcome this disadvantage is to ensure your dog drinks plenty of water.

Fat and Oil

Fats and oils are good energy sources in dog foods. A low-fat, high-fiber diet for diabetic dogs can be a great way to control their blood sugar levels and lose weight.

Vitamins and Minerals

Essential vitamins and minerals are important for vital functions in the dog’s body. They help to fight infection, aid vision, and wound healing, make bones strong, and regulate hormones. Vitamins and minerals can be supplied through the various ingredients in the dog food as well as adding a synthetic premix.  Vitamins and minerals can cause toxicity if consumed in large amounts, they constitute less than 1 percent of the dog’s diet.

Using The Diabetic Dog Food Calculator

Precision is an important practice in feeding dogs with diabetes, this is why calculators are designed to help diabetic dogs get the actual calories needed per day. Adherence to the values generated from the diabetic dog food calculator is crucial to the health of the dog.

There are lots of calculators to employ for finding the amount of food a diabetic dog would eat daily, we would recommend the Waltham Nutrition Calculator for this purpose. You can calculate your dog’s daily calorie needs using this calculator; it only requires you to input the weight of the dog and give an idea of its activity level (there is a rating for this).

The result is usually the amount of food to give the dog daily; you can then split the food into two portions. Remember diabetic dogs eat only twice per day; that is 12 hours after the first meal.

diabetic dog food

Feeding Guide For Diabetic Dog

Aside from having restrictions on what diabetic dogs eat, when and how much to feed the dog is part of the treatment measure. Remember the goal is to ensure there is a good balance of glucose in the dog’s bloodstream.

The best diet for diabetic dogs must contain high-fiber, adequate protein, low fat, low carbohydrate, and sodium diet. Water is an essential nutrient that must be steadily available for diabetic dogs. The amount of feed given daily must be controlled to ensure it supplies the suitable amount of calories required by the dog.

The amount of food given to diabetic dogs is also dependent on the dog’s body condition. The portion for overweight dogs is not the same as the underweight dog. There is a need to achieve a balance in the dog’s weight before getting the amount of calories required. Taking this nitty-gritty into consideration is crucial because precision is crucial in feeding a diabetic dog.  that is the dog weight of the dog.

It is important to know that the diet of dogs with diabetes works with daily insulin injections. before administering insulin injection, the dog must be fed. Diabetic dogs are fed only two meals per day, with 12 hours between the two meals and injection.

The amount of the food given to diabetic dogs must be weighed and the exact same amount must be given at each meal. The accuracy in the amount of food is very important for stabilizing the glucose levels in the bloodstream. Enough water is supplied to cushion the effects of the fiber in the food. Additional meals within the meals can cause an increase in the glucose level in the bloodstream.

Royal Canin Canine Diabetic, Royal Canin Satiety, and Hills w/d Prescription Diet are some top foods for dogs with diabetes, however, we recommend you seek the expertise of the veterinary doctor for diabetic dog food prescription. You have the opportunity to discuss your dog’s other health issues and this information will aid the prescription.

Giving Diabetic Dog Treats

Treats between core meals of diabetic dogs are not advisable because they will cause glucose spikes in the blood after eating. However, it is recommended by a veterinarian, to look at the label of what you are buying to ascertain the ingredients.

Treats and snacks that contain syrup, molasses, fructose, dextrose, or maltose as ingredients must be avoided, they are simple carbohydrates that can increase the glucose level in the dog’s bloodstream. Low-carbohydrate and vegetable bits like green beans, dehydrated meats, frozen yogurt, zero-fat plain cottage cheese canned tuna, meat jerky, snap peas, carrots, and canned pumpkin are good treats for diabetic dogs.

Read later: The Best Low-Calorie Dog Training Treats

Care for Diabetic Dogs

You would agree that dogs with diabetes require special needs. They require special care and attention at certain periods of their growth. Here are some management care tips you must adhere to if you have a diabetic dog at home:

Administering Insulin Injections

The insulin injection alongside the feeding helps to keep dogs with diabetes in good health condition. The work of the insulin injection is to help combat the increasing glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin injection works well for diabetic dogs when given immediately after eating.

In a situation where the dog refuses to eat or eat half a meal, half a dose of the recommended daily dose is given to the dog. Giving a full dose when the dog has not eaten the whole meal can cause a condition known as hypoglycemia. This means blood glucose drops too low.  The dog always needs the injection whether it eats or not.

Regular Monitoring of the Dog’s weight

The weight of dogs with diabetes is really important in feeding and administering insulin injections.   Diabetic dogs are usually obese and overweight, which exposes them to more complicated health issues.

Once the treatment of diabetes has commenced, the dog should be weighed every 3 months to ascertain the weight. Diabetic dogs should either gain or maintain a constant weight when the treatment is effective. Loss of weight is a sign of poor treatment. Regular exercise and a weight-loss diet can help diabetic dogs attain optimal weight.

Daily Regular exercise

Regular exercise will help manage the weight of diabetic dogs; it will also lower blood sugar levels. Like the feeding, the exercise must last for the same length of time and at the same intensity every day. Inconsistent exercise, both in timing and nature, could cause blood sugar levels to drop too low.

Consistency in Feeding

The time of feeding and amount of food given to diabetic dogs must be consistent. Feeding an equal amount of food at the same time every time will help diabetic dogs. Remember to feed the dog twice per day at 12 hours apart.

Avoid highly digestible food

Highly digestible dog foods contain simple sugar and must be avoided because of their ability to cause an increase in blood glucose. Examples are foods containing white potato and white rice, and some treats.

Give Fiber and More Water

The importance of fiber in diabetic dog food cannot be overemphasized. Fiber makes the dog full after eating a small amount of meals; it is not easily digestible thereby slowly releasing glucose into the dog’s bloodstream.

The digestive tract functions excellently when fed an adequate fiber diet because the movement of food becomes easier and faster. Fiber also helps with weight loss, helping your dog attain and manage a desired weight. This is exactly what dogs with diabetes need.

Regular glucose testing

Efforts to stabilize diabetic dogs are directed towards ensuring the blood glucose level is neither too high nor too low. Hence, it is essential to test the dog’s blood sugar level regularly. The result from the test will reveal how effective the insulin injection has been and also tell whether certain foods are good for the dogs.

End Notes

The best way to manage dogs with diabetes is through precision feeding and regular blood tests. You should take your dog to the vet regularly for checkups and assessments. The vet should be aware of the ingredient list of the dog food to tell if it is good or not. If all precautions are taken as discussed in this article, your diabetic dog will live longer and happier.

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