What is dog diabetes?
Canine diabetes (dog diabetes) is a disease caused by either a lack of insulin (the hormone that maintains blood sugar levels) within your dog’s body, or an insufficient biological response to it.
In a healthy dog, insulin would carry the glucose in their food to cells throughout their body. However, if your pup’s body can’t use insulin properly or produce enough of it, their body won’t be able to use the glucose appropriately.
This results in an increase in your dog’s blood sugar levels and can have negative side effects. Symptoms of diabetes in dogs can include:
- Increase in urination
- “Sweet” smelling breath
- Lack of energy
- Changes in appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
At PetVax Complete Care Centers, we run a variety of diagnostic tests in our in-house lab when working to pinpoint the cause of a pet's symptoms. These tests allow us to gather detailed information about your furry friend's health and create a treatment plan customized to meet your dog's precise needs.
After receiving a diagnosis of diabetes, you will likely want to know what food your canine companion should eat now that you’ll need to manage this disease. Have no fear, your veterinarian will be sure to help you navigate your dog's treatment plan, including dietary guidelines.
Strictly managing your dog's diet is going to be one of the main components of managing the disease. Following strict dietary rules, (typically in combination with regular insulin injections), can help many pets to enjoy a good quality of life for many years to come.
What is the best diet for a dog with diabetes?
Though diet management for diabetic dogs is essential and researchers continue to explore the topic, most vets recommend a diet that is high in fiber and low in fat. While low-fat foods have fewer calories, fiber will help your dog feel full and slow the entrance of glucose into their bloodstream, which will assist with weight management.
Veterinarians generally stress the importance of keeping a diabetic dog’s diet consistent, restricting treats, measuring quantities, sticking to regular feeding times and not changing foods without first checking directly with the vet. When your dog is diagnosed with diabetes, your veterinarian will take the time to speak to you about your dog's diet and the best food to feed your pup.
A high-quality food without simple sugars, (which will quickly increase your dog’s blood sugar levels), is typically recommended for diabetic dogs.
All table scraps or treats containing foods that could spike your dog's blood sugar levels - including snacks with lots of sugars such as bread, sweeteners and corn syrup - should be on your ban list.
Tips for a Healthy Diet for a Dog with Diabetes
- Consistency is key. Feed your dog at the same time every day and provide the same amount of food in the same quantity, each time. Ask your veterinarian first before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
- Give your canine friend plenty of water to counteract the fiber in their new diet, since fiber takes water from the body. An unbalanced amount of water and fiber can result in constipation and other issues.
- Ensure your dog stays lean. If your dog is overweight, losing a few pounds may help his cells use insulin more efficiently. Ask your veterinarian for advice on managing your dog's weight.
- Only give insulin injections as directed by your veterinarian. Don’t give your dog insulin injections if they have an empty stomach, as this could make them very sick.
- Has your dog lost their appetite? Let your vet know right away - this could mean that your pup is experiencing other complications related to diabetes - or perhaps they simply don’t like their new food.
A consistent high-quality diet and a healthy exercise routine, in addition to tracking your dog’s insulin needs and adjusting these as required with your vet’s help, can help your dog live well with diabetes.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.