Nothing is more heartbreaking than our beloved pups facing health challenges. Chronic health concerns are all the more troubling.
You love your dog, so when looking for the best diabetic dog food brands, we want the search to be exhaustive.
It is for this reason that we have scoured the internet for the highest quality, most reliable food for your sugar-intolerant canine companion.
Standard Dog Foods vs Diabetic Dog Foods
Standard dog foods put their focus into protein and bulk (as opposed to sugar regulation).
Diabetic dog food zone in on the need to keep blood sugar consistent in the pup.
While dog food is not generally rich in simple sugars, diabetic dog food will all but eliminate them from the diet.
fiber and complex carbohydrates will be present in a diabetic dog food.
These ‘sugars’ are slowly broken down by the pup’s system, thereby keeping blood sugar regular between meals.
Diabetes & Type of Diets for Your Diabetic Canine
Diabetes is a pancreatic condition which impacts the body’s ability to regulate insulin. This is a condition called Diabetes Mellitus.
When diabetic dogs encounter sugars (or their complex form in carbohydrates), they are unable to break down the solution.
The converse effect is an overage of insulin resulting in excessively low blood sugar. Both are problematic.
That said, diabetes is manageable.
Dedicated pup-parents have, for decades, been accommodating their dog’s diabetic needs.
The primary need is control over sugar content.
Dog foods that focus on fiber and protein are ideal candidates for this role.
Dry Foods and Kibbles
Kibble is a standard staple in all canine diets.
It is easy to digest and reduces gastric distress comparatively better than its wet food foils.
The risk with kibble is unnecessary bulking agents (particularly corn).
This starchy and sugary substance is a common filler in kibble.
Diligent parents of sugar-sensitive canines avoid this ingredient.
Canned and Wet Food
While kibble is a staple, for sugar sensitive dogs, wet food can be a great treat.
It offers a healthful option that focuses on protein (instead of nutritionally risky treats).
Canned food (of high quality) offers portioned feedings.
We love this option as a nutritive supplement to compensate for any dietary voids in diabetic diets.
Raw Food Diets
The raw food diet is popular among many pet owners, though is only amenable to certain dogs.
These diets focus mainly on protein.
The concept is such that, if the diet returns to canines’ evolutionary roots, the dog’s health will improve.
The high protein content is a practical benefit for diabetic dogs.
However, the lack of fiber poses a risk to canines susceptible to sugar-sickness.
Dehydration is a risk of diabetes.
Fiber is necessary to proper hydration of the dog’s system.
Prescription and Vet-Recommended Diets
Especially for severely diabetic dogs, prescription diets are a great option.
We love this choice because it provides the medical oversight of a veterinarian.
When pursuing this option, it is imperative to gain the consult of a licensed and practicing vet.
This will ensure that all dietary requirements are met, and all due consideration is given to diabetes as a chronic health concern.
Dieting to Treat Diabetes
Modern science shows that lifestyle changes have a large impact on the sugar regulatory system.
Often, the first step forward will be to improve the dietary standard of the canine.
By reducing out carbohydrates and starches, the dog’s system will have less troublesome matter to process.
This directly impacts blood sugar levels and affords the dog the best possible opportunity to thrive.
It is a first line of defense before other treatments.
Carbohydrates are nothing more than complex sugars, formed in chains.
When the body breaks down these chains, the matter reverts to its simple sugar form.
The simple step of reducing carb content in the food will give the pup less sugar to process.
For dogs who struggle with insulin production, this is a major step towards improving health.
Healthy, Controlled Fats
While fats do not directly link to the mechanism of diabetes, they are a large factor in obesity.
Studies show that obesity is a precursor to diabetes and other sugar-processing disorders.
By keeping fats healthy (mono or polyunsaturated), and limiting their amount, the overall weight and healthfulness of the dog can improve.
Fans of Fiber
Fiber is merely the cell wall of plants.
It has a number of other names including roughage and cellulose.
This essential material slows the breakdown of carbohydrates and assists in regulating the uptake of sugar in its simple form.
Fiber is also essential to hydration (thirst-or dehydration- is a common side effect of diabetes).
High Protein Diets
Protein is an ideal food source. It ranks in at the same caloric content as carbohydrates (each at 4 calories per gram).
Fats are double this amount (making them a risk bearer for obesity).
Protein digestion occurs in a different manner than starches.
Peptase, being the key enzyme of digestion, functions independently of the sugar system.
For these reasons, proteins are the best, primary source of calories for diabetic dogs.
Proteins stick in the system for a long time, preventing unnecessary spikes in blood sugar.
Due Diligence in Diabetic Dog Diets
We care about the health of our pups, and the best way to show this love is for us to find them the best possible diet.
When diabetes is a concern, it is all the more important to check the ingredients.
The first listed should be a high-quality protein.
The food must avoid carbohydrates (especially starches).
If there are any carbs included, they should be whole grains.
We prefer to avoid by-products and additives in order to reduce the burden on our pups’ systems.
A healthy food gives the pups the best opportunity to thrive.
Since obesity is a precursor to diabetes, portion control is a key form of early intervention.
Check the feeding charts against your pup’s weight.
Ensure that the portion being fed is suitable to their size and exertion levels.
Making certain of the pup’s hydration levels will prevent overeating, and thus unnecessary weight gain.
Different countries have different food standards.
These protocols directly impact the quality of the ingredients included in your dog’s food.
Always check the location of manufacturing as well as the source of the food stuffs found in the kibble.
- USA- Governed by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)
- Canada- Overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
- Australia & New Zealand- Governed by the FSANZ (Food Standards Australia, New Zealand)
- England- Overseen by the FSA (Food Standards Agency)
- France- Controlled by the ANSES (Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health & Safety)
- Germany- Governed by the BMEL (Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture)
Purchase Foods that Feature all the Nutrients and Supplements Your Dog Needs
Choose a food that meets all of your dog’s nutritional needs and includes healthful supplements to fortify their system.
When my family seeks out dog food, the first thing we look for is protein.
Next, we seek out healthy fats.
Ensure that there is sufficient micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).
These are generally added to the kibble as a supplementation.
Make certain that the micronutrition matches their life phase (glucosamine and chondroitin for seniors, etc.).
Avoid the Unidentified
Select a food that makes clear the protein it uses.
Reconstituted proteins, or protein composites may appear the same on a nutritional breakdown; however, since they are a mix, they do not benefit the dog in the same manner.
Choosing food is as much about exclusion as inclusion.
Avoid by-products and fillers while ensuring as much high-quality protein as possible is present in the kibble.
Avoid Foods with Artificial Additives
Additives come in all shapes and forms. Artificial additions to food can come in the form of flavoring agents and preservatives.
These chemicals provide no beneficial nutrition to the pup.
They simply add mass to the food without the dog gleaning any healthful profits.
Not only do these chemicals not add any value, they take up space which could be better allocated to healthy matter like protein and fiber.
Homemade Diets- Yay or Nay?
There are numerous potential benefits of home cooking.
First, it eliminates preservatives and additives.
It gives us pet-parents full knowledge and control of the dog’s diet.
It is important to consider all angles of health, and so it is best to consult with a veterinarian prior to starting a homemade diet.
Other factors to consider include added cost and time requirements.
Provided you are able to give sufficient, balanced nutrition to the dog, homemade diets are a viable option.
If you are just starting out, it is ideal to find a suitable kibble and titrate in home cooked meals.
Best Dry & Canned Foods for Diabetic Dogs
#1 Weruva Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
We love this kibble for its balanced approach to nutrition. It is a dry food, which makes it an amenable staple to the doggy diet.
Because it is grain free, unpleasant ingredients like wheat and gluten are left out of the recipe.
Pumpkin is an added benefit of this recipe (especially considering the risk diabetes poses to eye health).
This nutritious gourd has significant amounts of Vitamin A and beta carotenes.
These work to improve both the health of the coat, and the optical system.
Thankfully, there are no additives to cause irritation to your pup.
Included in the kibble are a series of healthy fats to ensure proper cognitive function.
Since this recipe is low in starch, you can rest easy feeding it to your diabetic dog.
- Avoids wheat, soy, corn, and other filling agents
- Non-GMO recipe for high quality ingredients
- Approved by the USDA and held to high standards
- Protein is only 80% sourced from meat
- Uses chicken as a meat protein (a potential irritant)
#2 Dr Harveys Canine Health Dehydrated Base Mix
We appreciate the holistic approach that this kibble takes to health.
It is a good option because it avoids starchy carbohydrates without forgoing the benefits of whole grains.
This plant matter includes with it a great deal of fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
Pups with sugar-related benefits see draws from the slow-to-digest plant matter included in the diet.
It can be challenging to meet the plant-based needs of diabetic dogs (since plants are so often riddled with sugars).
This kibble is an amenable approach for those looking to reduce carbohydrates, not eliminate them entirely.
The food itself keeps well in storage and lasts our family a significant amount of time.
- Healthy balance of fiber and vitamins
- Includes vegetables and grains
- Avoids dyes, preservatives, and chemical additives
- Requires meat additions to form the meal
- Not an all-inclusive kibble option
- Diet requires fat supplementation
#3 Blue Buffalo Wilderness Grain-Free Canned Food
Our pups love this food option for its taste.
We love this meal choice because it is a healthy choice for sugar-sensitive pups.
This wet meal option features white meat chicken and turkey as its key ingredient.
The high quality of the protein source is a major draw that signifies the quality of the food itself.
By avoiding by-products and additives, the benefits of the food itself remain in full force.
Since the recipe includes antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it reduces the need to supplement the diet.
The food steers clear of by-products and filling agents, which serve to take up space without adding nutrition.
This meal focuses on healthy calories and a filling meal.
Since the food keeps away from soy and corn, many of the sugary concerns associated with these plants are no longer a concern.
- Healthy and balanced meal
- High in protein and low in carbohydrates
- Contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- A wet food and thus not a dietary staple
- Includes chicken as a protein source (a possible irritant)
- On the costlier end of the price spectrum
#4 Hills Science Adult Lamb Meal
I love this option because it is specifically formulated to benefit diabetic dogs.
Given that it is a dry food option, it is a suitable dietary staple for dogs of all sizes.
As with any food, it is critical for us pet-parents to check the sizing charts when deciding on portions.
The style of food features carnitine, an ingredient which facilitates increased metabolism in our hungry pups.
As we know, diabetic concerns are largely due to glucose irregularity.
The goal of a food is to provide a stable blood sugar for as long as possible (ideally until the next meal).
This meal meets that goal by adding fiber to make the pup feel full as well as enzymes that work to make blood sugar levels stable between eating sessions.
- Balanced dry food suitable as a dietary staple
- High in fiber to keep the dog feeling full
- Works to keep the dog’s weight healthy
- On the pricier end of the cost spectrum
- Does not avoid carbohydrates altogether
#5 Instinct Raw Boost Grain Free Recipe
This popular option features a number of beneficial qualities that suit our diabetic dogs’ needs.
One of the key draws is that the food includes freeze-dried meat kernels with the kibble.
Raw meat has clear benefits to the canine form, in both flavor and nutritive qualities.
By using freeze-drying techniques, the recipe avoids the need for preservatives and additives.
Another great factor is the added probiotics.
These keep the internal flora of the pup healthy and give us pet-parents one less thing to worry about.
I favor this option because it includes all the necessary ingredients for my dogs to stay healthy.
It also avoids unpleasantries like starches and sugars.
While many foods avoid corn, soy, and wheat, this recipe goes one step further and avoids potato.
These starchy ingredients break down into sugars, something diabetic dogs must avoid.
- High protein content sourced from meat
- Avoids starches and filling agents
- Uses freeze-dried technology to avoid preservatives
- Features chicken as a protein source
- Is relatively calorically low (so may be less filling)
- Only suited for adult dogs
#6 Pet Craft Wholesome Animal Protein Treats
Just because our pups have health concerns, does not mean they benefit any less from treats.
It simply means that us pet-parents need to be cautious when choosing these treats.
These are a great option for pups in training, since positive reinforcement is a proven mechanism of teaching canines.
I am a fan of this option because of the diverse protein options.
The easy favorite of our family’s pups are the salmon bites.
We like these because they provide the added benefit of healthy fats in a controlled way.
Diabetes means portion control of all nutrition, not just sugars and starches.
Fats are nonetheless necessary to a shiny coat and proper cognitive function.
These treats steer clear of filling agents and are made in Canada, under the purview of the food control governing body.
I like these because they are suited to all sizes of dogs; since, as we know, diabetes can affect canines of all sizes and breeds.
- A good snack for in between meals
- Avoids grains and additives
- Focuses on healthy, high-quality protein
- Only suitable as a snack in between meals
- Cannot function as a kibble replacement
- Because it is high in meat protein, sodium content is also high
#7 Rachel Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Kibble
This popular option for diabetic doggy digestion meets the necessary criteria of a diabetic dog food.
Our pups favor it in terms of flavor since it features turkey (one of their favorite sources of protein).
I love this meat-source option since it is high in the amino acid tryptophan.
This is an amino acid which improves calm in canines (and all mammals for that matter).
Especially for hyperactive or temperamental pups, this is a good protein choice.
We adore the high fiber content held by the ingredients since it is a good way to ensure proper hydration of our canine companions.
By avoiding additives of all sorts, including artificial preservatives and colors, this food steers clear of common pitfalls.
It is important to ensure portion control when providing this kibble.
This is due to the high caloric content included in the meal.
- Free of grains and gluten
- Keeps away from artificial additives
- Fortified with vitamins and minerals
- No red meat included in recipe
- Contains potato (a starchy ingredient)
#8 Nutro Wholesome Essentials Dry Food
for Senior Dogs
It is no mystery that health concerns generally escalate as dogs get older.
We only get one pancreas, and after years of strain it is not uncommon for the doggy system to grow tired.
This is why we love this option since it’s design is specific to senior canines.
Needs change as we age, and it is important for us to accommodate this with our furry friends.
This kibble keeps the healthy fats in the form of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
These provide the lifelong importance of improving brain function as well as offering a shiny coat.
We love that this recipe includes brown rice since the high fiber content benefits diabetic dogs.
Protein is the key ingredient, coming from farm-raised chicken.
It is critical to ensure muscle retention of senior dogs and this protein rich recipe enables us to do so.
- High in protein for strong muscles
- Specifically designed for seniors
- Avoids additives and includes antioxidants
- Only suited to large breed dogs
- Does not avoid starch altogether (consider portion control)
#9 Purina ONE Smartblend Lamb & Rice
This recipe bursts with red meat and low-starch, high-fiber vegetable content.
We favor it because it is considers health from a number of perspectives.
Diabetes may be the only health anomaly, but that is all the more reason to provide a well-balanced diet.
Food provides the framework on which the body can grow and thrive.
When we give high-quality materials to the dog, they have the opportunity to benefit from the full nutrition of the source.
This meal is a great option for busy families, since it is an all-inclusive dietary solution.
Given that it is relatively low on the caloric spectrum, portion control is less of an issue.
Lamb is a wonderful protein source (that our dogs adore).
Since the protein comes from red meat, the iron content is high (facilitating healthy oxygen distribution throughout the system).
Glucosamine inclusion makes this an amenable solution to senior dogs as well as adults.
- Includes red meat for iron content
- Suitable to seniors as well as adults
- Can be fed to all breeds of dog (large, medium, and small)
- Not suitable to puppies
- Contains dried peas (a possible irritant due to theobromine content)
#10 Nature’s Recipe Adult Grain Free Dog Food
When it comes to the health concerns of our beloved furry friends, it can be tricky to strike the proper balance of taste and nutrition.
A common pitfall (that we hope to avoid) is overcorrecting diets.
Since sugars come from plants, many well-meaning pet parents look to eliminate all plant matter from the diet.
It is best (as it is with most things) to keep these ingredients in moderation.
This is a great food choice for families looking to make healthy changes while maintaining dietary inclusivity.
Red meat provides a generally filling protein source which is well suited to most (if not all) breeds of dog.
Diabetes impacts more than just the obvious blood glucose. It has side effects which range from thirst to issues with vision.
Many of these secondary concerns are highly manageable with a proper diet.
This food is high in Vitamin A (thanks to its inclusion of pumpkin and sweet potato).
These ingredients facilitate optical health as well as improved cellular balance within the pup’s system.
- Red meat protein source
- Relatively low on the caloric spectrum
- Avoids additives and by-products
- Kibble (dry food) option making it a suitable staple
- Contains sweet potato (an often-starchy ingredient)
- Comparatively low in fiber relative to other brands
#11 Milk Bone Farmer’s Medley Grain Free Recipe
Often, when dietary concerns become an issue, the best solution is to default to a plain diet.
This has the benefit of keeping things simple and avoiding unpleasant ingredients.
It also has the drawback of the pup losing interest, or worse, limiting nutritive diversity.
We like this treat because it strikes a balance between plain and palatable.
The recipe is simple and keeps focus on protein.
Our pups love lamb as a flavor, and us pet-parents like the red meat option for its high iron content.
The recipe is made with vegetables included.
This works to increase the fiber count of the recipe and keep our pups hydrated.
I like that this option is relatively low-calorie, meaning I need to worry a little less about portion control.
It is a suitable option for all breeds of dogs, during all life stages.
A great benefit for those who like to prepare is that this treat is designed to store well.
Provided you keep the kibble in a cool and dry space, the resealable design will allow it to keep for a substantial amount of time.
- Relatively low calorie (good for portion control)
- High in fiber content for blood sugar regulation
- Includes red meat protein as the primary ingredient
- Does not contain supplemental ingredients (DHA, Glucosamine, etc.)
- Not a food source (good to include in plain diets, though not a staple)
#12 Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care
Since diabetes can affect dogs of all shapes and sizes, it is important to find dog food options that can feed all breeds.
This recipe features chicken, so it is best suited for pups that are tolerant to this source of protein.
I like this option because it contains the necessary ingredients for older dogs with diabetes, including Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
The high fiber content allows the meal to fill up the pup throughout the day without sacrificing nutrition for bulk.
One of the best features is that it is low on the glycemic index (a goal for diabetic foods). Glycemia references sugar.
The lower the food is on this index, the more amenable the option is to sugar-sensitive pups.
We like this choice because it factors in the oft-forgotten side-effect of diabetes: dental issues.
The recipe focuses on healthy teeth and works to mitigate this concern.
This recipe provides our pups with necessary minerals and vitamins without adding unnecessary sugars to their eating routines.
- Low glycemic index
- Avoids starchy carbohydrates
- Contains supplemental micronutrients (like glucosamine)
- Relatively high cost compared to similar brands
- Only suitable for adult dogs
Tips for Feeding Diabetic Dogs
The three keys to feeding your diabetic dog are: hydration, exercise, and portion control.
Hydration ensures that the dog is full and has all the water necessary for a properly functioning system.
Exercise works to keep down weight and is a proven method of diabetes management.
Portion control includes feeding times and amounts.
If your dog has a particularly voracious appetite, it is best to divvy meals into three portions (while feeding the same amount overall).
This prevents overeating and excess strain on the system.
Feed Your Dog on a Regular Schedule
The best way to provide your pup with regulated blood sugar is to regulate feeding altogether.
The canine body benefits from routine feeding.
It works to improve portion control (as well as the dog’s mood).
Pups are happy when they know what to expect and providing regular eating times is a great way to make sure their system knows what to expect as well.
Stick to the Eating Routine
Kibble choices are one of the largest components of the eating routine.
It is well known we need to titrate in new food when making a change.
This is because even small differences can make a big impact on the doggy digestive tract.
Especially with diabetic dogs (whose bodies already struggle to regulate), if there is no problem with the food, it is best to stick to the tried and true.
Talking About Treats
Though they may have special needs, diabetic dogs are just like their other canine compatriots.
We like to show our love and want to ensure that we find a healthy way to do so.
It is important that we remember that dogs need rewards and positive reinforcements.
Treats are a great way to achieve this goal; and, provided the treat is high in protein and low in sugar, if it is given with enough time between meals, they are a great part of the eating routine.
FAQ About Diets for Diabetic Dogs
Can you See a Noticeable Difference in a Diabetic Dog Just from Diet Alone?
Changes in the dog’s health (usually seen first in energy) can result from a dietary shift.
It is important to monitor these changes over time, to make sure that it is the health of the food, not just the change that made the difference.
Is Dry Food Important for Diabetes?
The short answer is, yes, dry food is important.
Kibble takes longer to process and will generally be lower on the glycemic index.
This is necessary for healthy, regular blood sugar.
Why Won’t My Diabetic Dog Eat or Drink?
Problems with thirst and appetite are not uncommon for diabetic dogs.
If your dog continues to show resistance, or is risking dehydration, contacting your family’s vet is advisable to be prudent.
Why is My Diabetic Dog Losing Weight?
Depending on whether obesity was an issue, weight loss can be a good thing or a serious concern.
Weight loss means more calories are being spent than are being taken in.
With any weight loss, it is critical to monitor portions and ensure that all nutritional needs are met.
How Often Should I Feed Them a Senior Dog
Unless otherwise specified by the veterinary professional, seniors with diabetes should eat two to three times a day.
This will depend on appetite and time of day they are willing to eat.
The goal is for the pup to have adequate calories spaced appropriately throughout the day.
Can Diabetes be Prevented in Dogs?
We can work to prevent diabetes with simple steps like proper exercise and a healthy diet.
While this condition can be genetic, it can also be exacerbated by lifestyle.
Provided we are giving exercise and healthy food, we can rest easy knowing we are doing everything possible.
Is a Dog Glucose Meter Accurate?
Glucose meters have a standard of error, like all other scientific instruments.
If in doubt as to the specific technology, check with a vet.
Otherwise, most tests of good repute can be relied upon for accuracy.
What is the Life Expectancy of Dogs with Untreated Diabetes?
Life expectancy for all dogs is variable based on both breed and circumstances.
Diabetes is, however, a very serious issue. If left untreated, it will act detrimental to the dog’s health and drastically reduce their lifespan.
If managed, it is a very treatable and controllable condition.
Now that we have thoroughly investigated the different diets for diabetic dogs, we know what to seek out and what to avoid.
Optimally, the food will be high in fiber, low on the glycemic index, and high in protein.
The ideal food avoids starchy carbohydrates and steers clear of additives.
The clear kibble champion to meet these demands is the Instinct Raw Boost Grain.
Free recipe. Since it is a dry food option that avoids grains, it works well as a staple.
The high protein content and good quality offer us comfort when feeding our furry family.
Diabetes is a health challenge, but with a quality diet and diligent pet-parenting, we can provide our pups with the necessary ingredients to grow and thrive.