Diets for diabetic dogs

By: DogTrekker Staff
Veterinary surgeon and corgi at vet clinic

Diabetes mellitus in dogs can occur at any age. However, diabetic dogs are usually 4-14 years of age and most are diagnosed at roughly 7-10 years of age.
Whether your dog has been recently diagnosed or you are interested in preventing the disease,  one of my favorite recommendations is to give home cooking a try.  At the end of this article, I’ve provided readers with an easy-to-make,  fully balanced, diabetic-friendly recipe.
Diabetes mellitus can occur in two ways; either when the pancreas doesn’t secrete enough insulin, or when the cells of the body become resistant to insulin production causing glucose to accumulate  in the blood system, a condition called hyperglycemia.

Health concerns associated with diabetes include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Retinopathy
  • Periodontal disease
  • Pain

Diet is an essential part of managing the disease;  an easy, integrative tool that many pet parents aren’t sure how to implement.
To manage the disease, pet parents will need to look beyond the vast majority of processed diets, which include high glycemic carbohydrates like rice, wheat, potatoes, carrots, and corn. In fact, even brands marketed as low glycemic (foods with high amounts of legume protein) are still out of balance for a diabetic dog with upwards of 30-45% carbohydrates.
The best diet for a diabetic dog would follow these guidelines: Fresh, whole food ingredients, which are minimally processed, that focus on lean protein, high-quality fats, fiber and 2-15% low glycemic veggies. 
Fully balanced diets that meet these guidelines include home cooked recipes, raw food, freeze-dried food.

These diets are a good foundation to help mitigate the disease, by providing all the nutritional tools a dog needs to help maintain a healthy system.
To get you started, I’ve formulated a home-cooked recipe for a 50lb dog. I love that I can help pet owners control the disease by helping them with ingredient sourcing, cooking processes, and storage. Together, we can adjust nutrients to best match their dog’s current health state. 
Nutritive Turkey & Sardine Recipe (1 meal):

  • 3 oz Turkey (cooked)
  • 1 cooked egg with 1 tsp ground eggshell
  • 1 oz sardine canned in water
  • ½ cup steamed broccoli
  • ½ steamed red bell pepper
  • ¼ cup cilantro chopped-raw
  • .5 oz chicken liver (or beef) (blanched)
  • 1 tsp kelp powder

Recipe breakdown as fed: 

  • Kcals: 611
  • Protein: 12.5%
  • Fat: 7. 5%
  • Carbohydrate: 3.3%
  • Moisture:  71.5%
  • Ash:1.3%


Written by Lori Wells-Bauer
Pet Nutrition Counselor
Mountain View Animal Hospital and Holistic Pet Care
Reno, Nevada


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