Diabetic Dog Treats and Diet

Diabetes in dogs is rather common. Over 95% of dogs with diabetes suffer from Type I diabetes mellitus, which is an immune-mediated disease that causes the inability of the dog's body to synthesize or secrete insulin.

Diabetic Dog Treats and Diet For dogs with diabetes, dietary control is extremely important. If done right and with insulin replacement therapy, the diabetic dog can live a normal happy life.

The goals of dietary control are to deliver the nutrients to the body during periods when exogenous insulin (insulin administered by injections) is active, and to minimize fluctuations in blood sugar levels after meals.

If your dog has diabetes, I assume that your vet has already told you about the importance of a consistent feeding schedule.

This page looks at the following:

What Constitutes A Good Diabetic Dog Diet?

Like all dog diets, a diabetic dog diet should be nutritionally complete and balanced. In addition, a diabetic dog diet should have consistent proportion of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

  • Protein: A diabetic dog diet should not restrict protein intake, but instead should contain moderate amount of high-quality protein. If you use a commercial dog food, make sure that the first 2-3 ingredients contain at least one named animal protein source (e.g. lamb meat, chicken meal, salmon meal, etc.).
  • Fat: Fat should be moderately restricted, especially if the dog is overweight (which is common in diabetic dogs). As a general rule of thumb, fat should be less than 20% of the total calorie intake. Make sure, however, that there are good levels of essential fatty acids (Omega-3s).
  • Carbohydrates: A diabetic dog diet should be low in simple carbohydrates (sugars), but can contain complex carbohydrates (around 30% of total calorie intake). Complex carbs have lower glycemic index levels because they are more slowly digested and absorbed than simple carbs.

    In particular, dogs with diabetes can benefit from a diet that contain moderate fiber levels. According to one school of theory, the most effective way to help sugar absorption and decrease fluctuation in blood sugar levels after meals is to have both soluble and insoluble fiber in the diet.

Diabetes and Chromium

A diabetic dog diet should contain ingredients with rich chromium content.

Chromium is a trace mineral that can control blood sugar levels. A deficiency of chromium can lead to abnormally high blood sugar levels.

Foods that are excellent sources of chromium include:

  • brewer's yeast
  • broccoli
  • potatoes
  • whole grains (e.g. barley, oats)

Other foods with good chromium content include:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • chicken
  • brown rice
  • cinnamon
  • kelp

Can We Give Treats to Diabetic Dogs?

Many diabetic dog parents wonder if their dogs can have treats, and if so, whether special diabetic dog treats should be given.

Dogs with diabetes have to go through the discomfort of insulin injections every day, and most dogs are used to getting daily treats. Imagine how a dog will feel if treats are taken away from his daily routine! The dog will feel stressed, and may also feel that he is being punished for no reason.

Diabetic dogs can enjoy healthy natural treats just like other dogs do. Just remember the treats should not be more than 10% of their total calorie intake. It is a good idea to give your dog a small treat after insulin injection to make the daily injection routine a more positive experience for your dog.

You may also want to break up the treats into smaller pieces (or if you make your own dog treats, make them smaller), and give the pieces to your dog throughout the day.

What Are Good Ingredients For Diabetic Dog Treats?

If you choose to buy treats for your diabetic dog, look for something that contains:

  • No sugar (duh!): It is obvious but always remember to check the label - avoid treats that contain sugars. Examples of sugar sources include:
    • * white sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, etc.
    • * syrup - corn, malt, maple, etc.
    • * molasses
    • * honey
    • * fructose, dextrose, maltose, etc.
    • * sweetened peanut butter, apple sauce, etc.
  • High-quality animal protein: A treat that contains a named animal protein source is good for diabetic dogs (it's good for all dogs!), e.g. chicken jerky, beef liver treats, etc.
  • Complex carbohydrates: Treats that contain complex carbs (e.g. whole oats, barley, sweet potatoes, green peas, green vegetables) are also suitable for diabetic dogs.

If you choose to make your own dog treats (which is a better and healthier choice!), then use ingredients that are safe and beneficial to diabetic dogs, such as those rich in chromium (see above).

Some Examples of Diabetic Dog Treat Recipes

Here is a diabetic dog treat recipe that is designed for poochies with diabetes!

Here are also some recipes that can be adapted for your diabetic dog:

  • Ginger Dog Biscuits: These ginger dog biscuits are good for dogs with motion sickness, but they are also suitable for dogs with diabetes. They are low in fat, gluten-free; in addition, oats, apples, and cinnamon are all good sources of chromium. If your dog does not like the taste of ginger, or if your dog does not have motion sickness, you can omit the ginger in the recipe.
  • No Flea Dog Biscuit: Replace the nutritional yeast in the recipe with brewer's yeast (brewer's yeast has rich chromium content, but nutritional yeast does not).
  • Chicken Jerky: Sprinkle a teaspoon of cinnamon on the chicken meat half way through baking. Both chicken and cinnamon are good sources of chromium.
  • Pill Pockets: Replace the peanut butter with mashed sweet potatoes (though sweet in taste, sweet potatoes have low glycemic index and are high in fiber. Oats are chromium-rich).
  • Green Pea Biscuits: Replace the shredded carrots with finely chopped broccoli florets (to take advantage of their high chromium content).