Your diabetic dog relies on you to help him manage his condition. That means that you need to be on top of what he puts in his mouth.
But how do you know where to find the best diabetic dog food?
In this article, we identify the 6 best foods for diabetic dogs. We’ll also address your diabetic dog nutrition concerns in our comprehensive FAQ section.
Best Food For Diabetic Dogs
WINNER – Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food
|Ingredients:||Buffalo, sweet potatoes, blueberries, peas|
Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog starts with real de-boned meat and whole foods, including sweet potatoes, blueberries, peas, and other low glycemic vegetables.
The recipes are designed to provide your diabetic dog with high levels of quality protein, along with Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids.
Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog has caused some dogs to be very gassy. One online reviewer mentioned that it triggered allergies in her pooch.
Each recipe includes a number of different meats, so if your dog has an intolerance to any one of them, the formula will cause problems.
Merrick provide dog foods for all life stages and for all breed sizes.
Recipes contain such whole food ingredients as sweet potatoes, peas, apples, blueberries and contain zero preservatives, fillers, corn, wheat, soy or gluten.
Merrick dry foods have an average macronutrient proportion of 38 percent protein, 18 percent fat and 36 percent carbohydrates. The fat to protein ratio is 42 percent.
Their products make use of such protein boosting vegetables as chickpeas, lentils, pea products and alfalfa meal.
Merrick dry foods include chelated minerals. This means that the minerals have been attached to proteins to make them easier for your diabetic dog to digest.
They also include dry fermentation products that deliver enzymes to help in the digestive process.
Many of the recipes also include salmon oil, which is rich in EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.
These fatty acids make the food more bio-available.
Merrick dry foods are fortified with chondroitin and glucosamine.
Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food impresses with its blend of real meat, whole foods, macronutrient ratio and the inclusion of essential fatty acids and chelated minerals.
The recipes appear to be very well received by dogs, easily digestible and are reasonably priced.
For these reasons, Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog ranks as our #1 dry dog food for diabetic dogs.
RUNNER UP – Ketona Dry Food for Adult Dogs
Ketona Dry Food for Adult Dogs is a grain free product that claims to have 85 percent fewer carbs than other leading grain free brans.
That gives it less than 5 percent total digestible carbohydrates. Starch content is less than 5 percent, with sugars at just 0.5 percent.
Ketona Dry Food for Adult Dogs is very low in carb content. That means that the only vegetable you get is peas.
The lack of other veges means that you miss out on a lot of the minerals and vitamins contained in other vegetables.
Protein content in Ketona Dry Food Chicken for Adult Dogs is 46 percent.
All of the chicken used in the recipe is non-GMO, antibiotic-free, and raised by American ranchers using sustainable practices.
Ketona believe that dogs do not need carbs for energy. It is their contention that they can thrive off of the energy derived from fats.
As a result, they do not include such carb sources as wheat, corn, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rye, sorghum, beans, or soy. There are no artificial flavors or colorings either.
Real chicken makes up 75 percent of the recipe. Nearly all of the carbohydrate in the recipe comes from just one ingredient: peas.
Both of the Ketona recipes are formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO dog food nutrient profiles for all life stages, except for the growth of large size dogs (70 pounds or more as an adult).
All Ketona production facilities and operational processes are regulated closely by the FDA, the USDA, and other governmental organizations.
Ketona Dry Food for Adult Dogs is a low carb, keto style dog formulation. It contains 75 percent real chicken, with the 5 percent carb content coming from peas.
If you are a keto advocate, then this is definitely the diabetic dog food of choice.
ALTERNATIVE – Wellness Core Dry Dog Food
|Ingredients:||Real Turkey, Chicken & Salmon Oil|
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is a 100 percent grain-free product, that contains a balanced ratio of protein, carbs, and fats. It does not contain any wheat, corn, soy, or meat by-products.
It is packed with high-quality animal proteins that are lean and easily digestible. Every recipe contains only natural, non-GMO sourced ingredients.
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food contains grains that are quite large. They may not allow smaller dogs to comfortably digest this food.
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food is manufactured in the USA in production facilities and operational processes that are regulated closely by the FDA, the USDA, and other governmental organizations.
The range of Wellness core dog foods include the following ingredients – turkey, chicken, salmon oil and fruits and vegetables.
The revised formula contains 25 percent less fat than the Wellness Core Original Recipe in order to better help control the dog’s weight.
Every recipe is formulated with antioxidants, probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids are provided by way of fish and flax oil.
Each grain-free, nutrient-rich formula provides high-quality protein for your dog with no meat by-products or fillers, grain, corn, soy, wheat-gluten or artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.
Wellness Core Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food provides your diabetic dog with premium-grade proteins, carbs and fats to provide a complete nutritional profile.
The grain size may make it a little difficult for smaller dogs to digest, so this product is better suited to medium or large breeds.
ALTERNATIVE – ORIJEN Dry Dog Food
|Ingredients:||Chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs|
Orijen Dry Dog food provides 85 percent quality animal ingredients, sourced from free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs.
The fresh and raw ingredients include meat, organs, cartilage, and bone.
Orijen Dry Dog food is an expensive diabetic dog food. It is also grain free, which may not be to some owner’s liking.
Orijen Dry Dog food offers dietary solutions for all doggie life stages. The nutritional make-up of the recipes contain 85% meat inclusions; 15% vegetables and botanicals; 0% grain.
The macronutrient ratios are designed to mirror what the animal would find in the wild.
All Orijen foods are manufactured in Orijen’s DogStar Kitchen, which sits at the heart of an agricultural community in Kentucky.
This puts them in the ideal location to source the very best quality meats and produce.
These ingredients are responsibly farmed, ranched, or fished by people we know and trust, and delivered to our kitchens at peak freshness–typically within 48 hours of harvesting.
Orijen are wedded to five core principles that ensure best practice:
- Unmatched fresh meat inclusions
- Rich in meat protein
- Ingredient variety
- Whole prey ratios
- Fresh fruit and vegetables
The macronutrient ratio of Orijen Dry Dog food is 43 percent protein, 21 percent fat, and 28 percent carbohydrates. The fat to protein ratio is 44 percent.
Orijen Dry Dog food impresses with its high rate of rel met. The nutritional profile is based upon what your dog would find in the wild. That means that this is a grain-free product.
There are also a number of legumes includes which also provide low-fat sources of protein.
Recipes also include prebiotics, essential fatty acids, and enzymes to promote digestion and overall well-being.
BEST TREATs – ALL Natural Diabetic Treats
|Size:||40 cookies per pack|
|Ingredients:||Herbs, dandelion, apple sauce, kelp|
All Natural Diabetic Treats Diabetic cookies are specially formulated for diabetic dogs.
They are made from all natural herbal ingredients, many of which are certified organic.
All Natural Diabetic Treats Diabetic cookies are an expensive treat, with a per cookie price of around 50 cents.
All Natural Diabetic Treats Diabetic cookies contain ingredients known to help reduce blood and help manage insulin requirements.
Fiber and herbs are combined to help slow the rate of food metabolism, which allows your diabetic dog to better manage its insulin requirements.
The apple sauce used in the recipe contains pectin which helps to boost the dog’s immune system as well as controlling its blood sugar levels.
Dandelion is another ingredient which is designed to reduce the amounts of sugar in the blood.
These cookies contain Vitamin C, which is often missing from a dog’s diet.
Kelp is also included to help with thyroid function while also promoting a healthy skin and coat.
All Natural Diabetic Treats Diabetic cookies are great when given to your dog as a treat after he has his daily insulin injection.
The ingredients in All Natural Diabetic Treats Diabetic cookies are stone ground whole wheat flour, oats, alfalfa, unsweetened applesauce, pumpkin, brewer’s yeast, kelp, garlic, dandelion root, cider vinegar, water.
Each bag contains more than 40 treats, with 16 calories per cookie. The treats are hard baked.
All Natural Diabetic Treats Diabetic cookies are produced by the Old Dog Cookie Company.
They provide delicious, healthy, insulin control enhancing treat that is ideal to give to your pooch as an after injection reward.
However, it is quite expensive, coming in at about 50 cents per cookie.
Best Wet Dog Food – Instinct Original Wet Canned Dog Food
|Ingredients:||Beef, venison, beef liver, fruits, vegetables|
Instinct Original Grain Free with real beef and venison is made from 95 percent, beef, venison, and beef liver.
The remaining 5 percent is made up of vegetables and fruits. This makes this product a very high protein dog food. The main ingredient is grass fed venison.
Instinct Original Grain Free wet canned dog recently added more salt to the recipe. However, it is still among the lowest salt canned dog foods on the market.
Instinct Original Grain Free wet canned dog food has absolutely no filler content.
It is made without grain, potato, corn, wheat, soy, carrageenan, by-product meals, artificial colors or preservatives, which have all been known to trigger food sensitivities.
The loaf texture of this wet food makes it ideal to be served as a topper or as a main meal.
The taste seems to be quite irresistible to dogs of all shapes and sizes.
The product is made in the USA with only the finest, freshest ingredients that have been sourced from around the world.
Instinct Original Grain Free wet foods have an average macronutrient breakdown of 40 percent protein, 23 percent fat and 37 percent carbohydrate. The fat to protein ratio is 56 percent.
Instinct Original Grain Free provides you with a high quality wet dog food that has an above average convenient of animal proteins and fats.
This is a well priced, nutritionally balanced wet mixture that apparently tastes great – highly recommended!
Diabetic Dog Food FAQ
What foods can diabetic dogs eat?
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the type of diet that a diabetic dog follows is less important than the consistency of that diet.
Focus on a high quality, balanced diet. The macronutrients that your diabetic dog needs to thrive should be provided in the following ratio:
- 40% of total calories from a proteins source
- 45% of total calories from carbohydrate sources (35% cooked grains plus 10% vegetable and/or fruit)
- 15% of total calories from a supplemental fat (oil) source.
In addition, the following micronutrients should be added:
- Sodium Chloride (table salt) and/or potassium chloride (salt substitute), depending upon the ingredients used in the meal.
- Bonemeal and a multivitamin and mineral supplement.
What is the best food for a diabetic dog?
To answer the question of what is the best food for a diabetic dog. Let’s consider each of the macronutrients, one at a time.
proteins provide the building blocks, in the form of amino acids, that are necessary for growth, maintenance, and repair of tissues, organs, blood, and hair.
It is especially important for your diabetic dog to get a plentiful supply of quality protein because, in the absence of glucose, the muscle cell will use up protein as an energy source.
Proteins are made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. Dogs can produce non-essential amino acids through normal bodily functions.
However, they cannot meet their requirements for essential amino acids on their own – it must come through their diet.
The best sources of protein for your diabetic dog are:
- Organ Meat
- Some dairy products, such as cottage cheese
All foods contain some protein. But there are huge differences in protein quality.
You want to feed your diabetic dog proteins that are easily digestible, as dogs have short digestive tracts.
The protein should also be complete, meaning that it should contain all of the essential amino acids. Most animal proteins meet this criteria.
Plant-based proteins are incomplete, as they lack a number of amino acids.
In order to create a complete protein, plant-based proteins must be combined with a carbohydrate, such as brown rice, to provide the complete range of amino acids.
Plant-based proteins are also difficult for dogs to suggest. As a result, we don’t feel that plant-based foods are a good source of protein for dogs.
Carbohydrates are broken down by the digestive system and converted to glucose to be used for energy.
Your diabetic dog is unable to naturally produce the insulin that is needed to transport the glucose into the cells of its body, requiring the use of external insulin.
But it still needs a constant supply of glucose in the form of carbohydrates. Carbs also supply fiber, which aids gastrointestinal functioning.
The best form of carbs for your diabetic dog are:
- Cooked whole grains, such s brown rice, oatmeal and barley
- Whole wheat flour products
- Vegetables and fruits
There are some important points to keep in mind when feeding carbs to your diabetic dog. Too many carbs can cause gas, diarrhea, or weight gain.
Grains must be cooked for your dog to be able to properly digest them.
Brown rice is the best cooked grain, being rich in nutrients and easily digestible. Puree raw fruits to make them easily digestible, but leave the skin on.
Remove any pits or seeds as they may be toxic or cause the dog to choke.
Fats are highly concentrated forms of energy. They supply essential fatty acids and serve as carriers for the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E and K.
Fat deposits in the body protect and stabilize various internal organs as well as insulating the body from cold.
In addition, fats add flavor to food. It is important to keep a close eye on the amount of fat in the diet of your diabetic dog.
That’s because fat contains more than twice as many calories as either protein or carbohydrates.
Too much fat can also lead to such serious health problems as obesity and pancreatitis.
Fats supply essential fatty acids, which have a key role in doggie health. Dogs need linoleic acid, the main fatty acid in a category of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) known as omega-6.
Omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in skin and coat health, tissue repair, immune system response and reproductive function.
Dogs need to get linoleic acid in their diets because it cannot be manufactured by the body.
A dog that is deficient in essential fatty acids will be more susceptible to skin disorders, coat problems, and infection.
Vegetable oils, such as safflower and canola, are good sources of linoleic acid.
Some meats, such as the dark meat, fat and skin of chickens, are also good sources of linoleic acid. Look for recipes that use lean meats with canola oil added.
Can nondiabetic dogs eat diabetic dog food?
Yes, non-diabetic dogs can eat foods that are listed as diabetic.
The foods that a diabetic dog should be eating are the same as what all healthy dogs should also be consuming; high-quality lean proteins, low glycemic index carbs and quality fats or essential fatty acids and linoleic acid.
What vegetables are good for diabetic dogs?
Here are a half dozen fantastic low glycemic index vegetables that your diabetic dog will love:
- Winter Squash – winter squash vegetables are great for diabetic dogs mainly due to their high fiber content. Vegetables in this category include pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash. Just make sure that these vegetables are cooked well before serving up to your pooch.
- Alpha Sprouts – this is another food that is high in fiber and dog friendly. Mix raw alpha sprouts with oats or rice, along with some lean meat cuts to provide the ideal nutrient balance.
- Carrots – the naturally occurring sugars in carrots are not going to affect your diabetic dog’s insulin levels. Carrots are full of nutrients, safe and easy for your dog to digest when they are pulped.
- Parsley – parsley is a green leafy vegetable that is, once again, high in fiber. It is also very low in sugar.
- Fresh Garlic – fresh garlic is fantastic for the digestive tracts, in humans and dogs. However, you need to be sure not to overdose on garlic, as it may cause anemia.
- Broccoli – broccoli is a high fiber food that is very low in sugar, which puts it way down on the glycemic index.
- Green Beans – green beans are a high fiber food that is low in carbs. Serve your diabetic dog raw green beans but be sure to pulp them up thoroughly.
- Leafy Salad Greens – this category includes such vegetables as collard greens, kale, mustard greens and romain lettuce.
- Pea Pods – The entire pea pod contains beneficial nutrients for diabetic dogs. The pod is very rich in fiber.
- Beets – beets provide important phytochemicals that add to the health of your diabetic dog. They can be served either raw or cooked.
Can diabetic dogs have treats?
Yes, you can provide treats for your diabetic dog. However, you should make sure that you are serving up healthy treats that are low on the glycemic index and low in calories.
It is often a good idea to treat your dog after he has his inulin shot each day. Focus on vegetable treats like sliced up carrots, sweet peas, green beans, and apples.
Of course, you can also provide your diabetic dog with non-food treats.
Taking him for an extra walk or spending an extra 10 minutes of one-on-one play-time will be more rewarding to our dog than throwing him an extra biscuit.
Do diabetic dogs need supplements?
Yes, diabetic dogs should take supplements. In fact, all dogs should do so.
Even though your commercial product tells you that it is nutritionally complete, there is still a chance it is not providing everything your dog needs to stay healthy.
Many veterinarians need recommend vital supplements for puppies to make sure they receive everything they need during their critical growth and development stage.
Puppies are susceptible to getting worms, which is potentially deadly, so supplementation can be a lifesaver for some puppies.
Aging dogs are more likely to experience health problems that impact the immune system. That means it is less able to fight off free radicals and toxins that cause disease.
Older dogs are also able to absorb nutrients from their food, and some of them tend to eat less. So, supplements with various nutrients can be especially beneficial for older dogs.
Before giving your dog any supplement, you should check with your vet. Dietary supplements that are popular for use in dogs to treat specific conditions include the following:
- Glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane) and yucca to help in joint health and the management of arthritis.
- Vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene and selenium. These antioxidants protect against free radical damage.
- Omega-3 fatty acids to aid in the treatment of skin disease.
- Probiotics to provide good bacteria to improve digestion
Look out for manufactured diabetic dog food formulas that include some of these supplements in their formula
Can you help me to read dog food ingredient labels? They are quite confusing!
Dog food labels must list the ingredients in decreasing order by weight (on a dry food basis) rather than by amount or volume, starting with the heaviest item.
So, if you read a label and the first four items are beef, corn middlings, corn gluten, and corn meal, you would think that the product contains a lot of beef.
But beef, like chicken, turkey, fish, and lamb are whole food sources that consist of about 75 percent water, so they are naturally heavy.
So, our example actually represents a corn-based product that has some beef in it.
The manufacturer has purposely deceived the public by dividing the corn into three different ingredients so that they can list beef first.
There are dozens of ingredients you need to understand in the quest for healthy food for your dog. These involve meat by-products, meat meals, grains, vegetables, cheap fillers, and chemicals.
Pet food makers must list the preservatives they put in their products, but they do not always reveal preservatives in ingredients that are processed somewhere else and added to their product.
Here is a list of artificial additives, preservatives, and chemicals that should not be listed on the food you choose for your diabetic dog:
- Animal digest
- Animal fat
- Artificial colors and flavors
- Beet pulp
- Blood meal
- BHA/ BHT
- Corn bran
- Corn gluten meal
- Corn syrup
- Fish meal
- Meat meal
- Mill run
- Natural flavors
- Propylene glycol
- Poultry by-product meal
- Rice gluten meal
- Soybean meal (de-hulled, solvent extracted)
Rather than these ingredients, look for dog foods that are preserved with Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), or plant ingredients such as rosemary.
These natural ingredients do not preserve dog food as long as chemicals do, so make sure to check the expiration date on any dog food that contains natural preservatives.
You should also avoid foods that contain meat by-products, especially those with the ambiguous term ‘meat’ rather than a specific source.
‘Meat meal’ may also contain meat by-products and are also to be avoided if at all possible.
In this article, we have, after an extensive analysis of the market, revealed the 6 best low glycemic dog foods available right now.
The best non-presciption diabetic dog food on today’s market is Merrick Grain Free Dry Dog Food.
Coming in at our #2 spot is Ketona Chicken Recipe Dry Food for Adult Dogs.
The best diabetic treat food for dogs is ALL Natural Diabetic Treats, while our favorite wet diabetic canned dog food is Instinct Original Wet Dog Food.