Many dog owners are surprised to learn that their pet is diabetic. A majority go without knowing until it is too late. After learning this confounding new, one is usually at a loss on how to deal with a diabetic dog. Is nutrition like in humans? What is too sugary for a dog? What diet is lean enough to manage the pet’s weight? This pet health issue is problematic, but you can manage with the right nutrition plans.
Diabetes in Dogs
Dog diabetes is the same metabolism disorder that is observed in humans. It occurs when a dog is not converting blood sugar as expected. There are two forms of diabetes in dogs:
- Insulin deficient diabetes – This type of diabetes is the most common in dogs. It is caused by lack of adequate insulin production. The dog has to get insulin shots to help with blood sugar conversion.
- Insulin-resistant diabetes – This type of diabetes is seen in obese dogs. The dog produces insulin, but the insulin does not trigger blood sugar conversion as it should. Dogs in heat, and those pregnant sometimes develop temporary insulin resistance.
Diabetes in dogs usually develops unnoticeably, yet the damage it does is life threatening. The lack of energy communicates starvation to body cells, triggering a breakdown of muscle tissue for energy. The excess blood sugar causes high blood pressure and damage to organs including the eyes, kidneys and the heart.
Food Types for a Diabetic Dog
Consult with your vet for the high-quality pet foods. There are brands specially formulated for diabetic dogs. You should pick food with a balance among all essential nutrition groups: proteins, carbs, vitamins and minerals, and fiber.
Avoid dog food made from offal. It contains high levels of purine, which might bring on more endocrine system problems. Go for foods made from healthy protein, including lean meats like chicken and fish. Insect protein is ideal: it packs high protein levels, it is low on cholesterol and is produced sustainably. Brands like Bellfor have diabetic-friendly pet foods with insect protein.
The most harmful foods for a diabetic dog are those with simple sugars, for example, those with corn syrup sweetener. Simple sugars cause spikes in blood sugar. Avoid foods that are rich in starch, for example, those containing processed rice. The high starch breaks down to sugars, which cause elevated blood sugar levels for a longer period than simple sugars. Avoid feeding the dog treats and scraps.
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) opines that feeding consistency is just as important as the type of food for a diabetic dog. Good spacing ensures that blood sugar levels are well controlled, with the aid of insulin shots.
Plan for three meals if your dog is to have one insulin shot per day, and two meals if the dog is to have two shots. Space three meals 6-8 hours apart. Administer insulin before the first meal. Space two meals 10-12 hours apart and administer insulin before each meal.
Diabetic dogs are prone to being overweight. Meal portions are essential control. For a three-meal plan, the first portion should be 2/3 of the daily ration, while a two-meal plan can have equal portions. An overweight dog should have 2/3 of the normal daily ration until weight comes down to the ideal level. Remember to make water available at all times.
Living with a diabetic dog is easy if you have a nutrition plan and use high-quality diabetic-friendly pet food. Track your pet’s progress, and schedule regular appointments with the vet to review the progress. Keep your pet happy and stay happy.