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Our dogs are integral parts of our families. So, it can be really difficult when they become sick, especially when they develop chronic conditions like diabetes. Although canine diabetes is not very common, it is on the rise (just like in humans). Recent statistics show that there has been an increase of over 30 percent in the number of dogs diagnosed with the condition in the past 5 years.
Fortunately, diabetes in dogs is not a death sentence. A dog can still live an active and happy life when given the right support and care. For instance, you can minimize and even prevent the condition by subjecting your canine companion to a proper diet.
In this post, I will be sharing with you resourceful tips on preparing healthy homemade diabetic dog treats plus other important tips that may be handy in feeding and taking good care of your diabetic dog. Before we get into these tips, let’s do a quick review of what canine diabetes is.
- What is Canine Diabetes?
- Homemade Diabetic Dog Treats
- Ingredients to use when making DIY diabetic dog treats
- Ingredients to Avoid When Making Homemade Diabetic Dog Treats
- Homemade Diabetic Dog Food Recipes
- Alternatives to Homemade Diabetic Dog Treats
- More Tips for Preparing Safe and Healthy Diabetic Dog Treats
- Related Questions
What is Canine Diabetes?
Diabetes is simply the inability of your dog to control his blood glucose levels, either because his body produces insufficient insulin or becomes resistant to insulin.
Let me break it down a bit:
Like in humans, the food that your dog eats gets broken down in his system into different components. One of the main components of the food—glucose—is carried to the body cells by insulin. If your dog cannot produce enough insulin himself or the insulin that he has isn’t utilized properly, the glucose won’t be used properly either. This implies that the glucose won’t reach your pooch’s body cells. As a result, the cells starve, forcing the dog’s body to generate more glucose, which then accumulates in the blood, causing a wide range of adverse health effects.
The first case (insufficient production of insulin) is Type I Diabetes and it is the most common type of diabetes in dogs. The second case (failure of the cells to respond to insulin) is often referred to as Type II Diabetes.
The most common symptoms of diabetes in dogs include;
· Increase in appetite
· Excessive thirst
· Loss of weight
· Frequent urination
· Cloudy eyes
· Depression and lethargy
· Rough coat and dandruff
· Muscle loss and weakness of the back legs
You can learn more about diabetes in dogs from this amazing video:
Homemade Diabetic Dog Treats
Both types of diabetes can be managed by giving your dog a proper diet. And the best way to go about this is by making homemade or non-prescription diabetic dog foods, including treats. However, before you prepare such foods or treats, you need to choose the right ingredients. While all dogs love treats, dogs with diabetes should only be given treats that contain safe and healthy ingredients. So, which ingredients are safe for diabetic dogs?
Well, let’s find out. But before then, let’s understand the basics: what’s recommended for a diabetic dog food diet.
What Diabetic Dog Treats Should Contain
Like in humans, high levels of sugar and carbohydrates (carbs) are two things that shouldn’t feature in the diet of a dog with diabetes. Why? Because feeding your dog these two categories of foods will make his blood level to rise, which may exacerbate the condition. So, healthy treats are those that don’t raise or affect the blood sugar levels of your dog. However, the food should satisfy your pooch, help him maintain a healthy weight, and assist with training.
Essentially, good food or diet for a diabetic dog should contain the following:
- Low Carbs and Sugar: To prevent rapid spikes in sugar levels.
- Low-fat Content: To help your dog control obesity, a risk factor for diabetes.
- High Fiber Content: To regulate blood sugar level by slowing your dog’s capacity to break down carbs and absorb sugar.
- High Protein Content: Proteins tend to be easily digested and sticks around in your pooch’s system for long. This boosts satiation, which translates to a slowed rise in blood sugar levels.
Ingredients to use when making DIY diabetic dog treats
The best ingredients are those with zero or low glycemic indexes because they tend to be slowly digested, absorbed, and metabolized by your dog’s body, which results in the slow buildup of blood glucose levels. Treats that fit this description are whole grains, meat-based treats, and vegetable treats. Fruits are also recommended by they should be given in moderation because they have high starch content.
For clearer insight, let’s now analyze each.
Generally, vegetables have high fiber content and low in calories, which makes them an excellent choice for your treats. However, different vegetables come with varying benefits, so be sure to make the best choice for your dog.
Here are some good vegetable choices for your dog.
- Carrots: Carrots contain carotenoids, which may prevent diabetes according to Prevention.
- Cucumbers: They have high water content, low in calorie and excellent for weight loss.
- Green Beans: Are full of fiber, are low in calories, and rich in important vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and vitamins, A, C, B6, and K.
- Broccoli: These are delicious and contain vitamins B & C as well as nutrients like magnesium and Iron.
- Lettuce: Contain beta-carotene and are potent sources of fiber.
- Cabbage: Rich in anti-oxidants, aids digestion, and great for coat and skin.
- Spinach: Rich in antioxidants, beta-carotene, iron, and vitamins A, B, C, & K.
- Zucchini: Delivers lots of fiber, minerals, and vitamins
As aforementioned, fruits have high starch content. So, they should be given in small portions to avoid exposing your dog to high levels of sugars. Some good fruits choices include;
- Apples: They are loaded with fiber, and your dog will love their taste.
- Cranberries: They have high fiber but low sugar content. They are also rich in antioxidants.
- Pears: Your dog will love the sweetness of the pear.
- Strawberries: High in fiber, rich in antioxidants, and low in calories
- Blueberries: High in fiber, rich in antioxidants, and rich in vitamins C and K
- Raspberries: Are low in sugar, high in dietary fiber, and rich in vitamin C and manganese
- Pears: Full of fiber, vitamins A and C
- Apples: Low in calories and rich in dietary fiber, vitamin A and C
3. Protein-rich Products
Low-fat meats and meat products are a fantastic way to add protein to your diabetic dog treats. Low-fat meats are even a better ingredient for dogs that are overweight.
Below are some top options for some protein-rich dog treats.
- Dried salmon: Seafood is perfect for dogs. Salmon has a pleasant taste and very healthy for your dog.
- Dehydrated chicken: This treat is a good source of proteins and it’s so yummy. Be sure to serve it plain as seasonings are toxic to dogs
- Turkey: Ground or dehydrated turkey is the best
- Sardines: Contains high levels of healthy proteins, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, coenzyme Q10, and omega-3. While most people worry about mercury in fish, Sardines have a small life cycle and a safe diet that makes them less likely to have mercury.
- Beef: Just like humans, your pooch will love it served as beef jerky treats.
- Eggs: You don’t want to add extra fat to your dog treats, so hard-boiled or scrambled eggs should be your preferred option.
- Dried liver: Potent source of proteins, healthy fats, zinc, iron, copper, niacin, phosphorous, and vitamin A.
- Low-sodium chicken broth: Rich in proteins and great hydration, healthy gut, appetite, and joints. Do you know to prepare bone broth for dogs? Lear here.
· When using animal products as ingredients or treats for diabetic dogs, ensure they are unprocessed and contain low fats.
· Avoid pork and lamb as they contain too much fat.
· Poultry should be skinned before serving mostly because the skin contains high levels of unhealthy fats.
· Although holistic veterinarians prefer raw meat, for the sake of treats, consider cooking or dehydrating the meat you give to your dog as a treat. A dehydrator like Excalibur 3926TB 9-Tray Electric (on Amazon) can help you dehydrate meat for jerky, vegetables, fruits, and make all your natural dog treats.
4. Whole Grain Flours
White flour is easily digestible and lacks the necessary nutrients required by your dog’s body. You should, therefore, go for whole-grain flours as they slow down digestion and are nutritious. Some of the best whole grain flours you should consider include whole wheat, rye flour, barley flakes, and oat flour among others.
Barley is rich in soluble fiber—4 times more than the soluble fiber contained in oats—hence great for reducing blood glucose fluctuations. It’s also rich in magnesium, selenium, an antioxidant that has many benefits to older dogs.
5. High-Fibers Foods
Both soluble and insoluble fibers are great for minimizing blood glucose level fluctuations in your diabetic dog. Soluble fibers attract water and attain gel-like constancy, slowing digestion. On the other hand, insoluble fibers cause food to reach the digestive tract almost in its original form, enhancing health digestion. Both lower the chances of occurrence of blood sugar spikes.
The following are other great sources of fiber that you should consider including in your diabetic dog treat recipe:
- Wheatgerm: Rich in fiber, folic acid, vitamin E, and other vital nutrients.
- Kelp: Great for dogs that are prone to stomach upsets or constipation.
- Pumpkin: Excellent source of fiber and a host of nutrients.
- Kales: Rich in fiber, thiamine, riboflavin and folates.
- Milled flaxseed: contains insoluble fiber, good cholesterol, and bile to keep your pooch’s digestive system in top shape.
- Psyllium Husk: Excellent source of soluble dietary fiber and potent reliever of constipation and irritable bowel syndrome in dogs.
- Beet Pulp: Great source of fiber, promotes colon health, and an excellent source of energy
- Oats: Alternative source of carbs for dogs that are sensitive to grains and full of linoleic acid, which is known to boost skin health. You may find this post useful: How to make Homemade Dog Treats with Rolled Oats
Ingredients to Avoid When Making Homemade Diabetic Dog Treats
Foods that may result in body sugar spikes or those that may make your dog add extra pounds are no-go ingredients when making diabetic dog treats. Here are some ingredients you should avoid:
- Sweeteners: You should avoid all types of sugars, whether they are artificial sweeteners or healthy sugars like molasses. Other types of sugars that you should avoid include fructose, corn syrup, soy, malt syrup, and propylene glycol.
- White Rice: It is high in carbohydrates which can quickly increase your dog’s body’s sugar levels.
- Table scraps: These remains are usually loaded with carbohydrates, simple sugars, and bad fats which can increase your pooch’s blood sugar levels very fast.
- There are other ingredients that are generally harmful to all dogs—whether diabetic or not—and should never be part of your pet’s diet. They include chocolate, xylitol, raisins, grapes, chives, macadamia nuts, and onions among others.
Homemade Diabetic Dog Food Recipes
The best way to manage your pup’s diabetes with diet is by making your homemade dog treats. This is because you get to control what goes into your dog’s treats. It is also a great way of involving your family members in the management of your canine companion’s diabetes. Here are super easy and safe homemade diabetic dog food recipes for your pup.
1. Chicken, Asparagus and Broccoli Bake
- 2 skinned chicken breasts
- 1 thinly chopped garlic clove
- 1 cup asparagus, 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup raw broccoli
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon fresh parsley
- Cut the chicken breast into 1-inch pieces
- Combine the chicken, garlic, asparagus, chicken stock, broccoli, and parsley in a saucepan and boil.
- Simmer until the vegetables become tender. This should take about 30 minutes.
- Add cooked brown rice to the mixture.
- Allow the mixture to cool down before serving.
2. Tasty Sardine Treat
- 2 3.75oz can sardine in water
- 1 teaspoon parsley (fresh or dried)
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup vegetables or 1/4 cup pumpkin puree(optional)
- Preheat your oven to 375F.
- Drain and cut the sardines before mixing with the parsley and pumpkin puree or vegetables.
- Spread the mixture in a casserole dish and spread the egg on top.
- Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the eggs are well cooked.
- Cool before you serve.
3. Liver Treats for Diabetic Dogs
- 1/2 cup whole grain Oat flour
- 1.5 lbs of beef liver
- Two eggs
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Line your jerry roll pan with parchment.
- Cut the liver into pieces then put them in a food processor. Pulse the liver until it is well chopped.
- Put the finely chopped liver in a bowl add flour and eggs then mix until it is smooth.
- Spoon the mixture in the pan and spread.
- Bake for about 15 minutes.
- Allow it to cool before cutting into small pieces.
4. Sweet Potato Diabetes Dog Treats
Sweet potatoes are rich in estrogen that helps in controlling a dog’s insulin metabolism. This makes this sweet potato dog treat not only delicious but very healthy for dogs with diabetes.
- 1 large sweet potato
- 3 medium eggs
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1/2 cup natural applesauce
- 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- Clean the potato and peel it.
- Using a fork, punch holes all over it.
- Place it on a microwave-safe bowl and then microwave it.
- Put it on a container and allow it to cool.
- Add the applesauce and eggs and mix.
- In a separate bowl, put the minced ginger, the rolled oats, and flour together and whisk.
- Pour this new mixture into the potato mixture.
- Preheat the oven to 162 ° C.
- Spread the mixture into a muffin pan and place in the oven.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Allow it to cool before serving.
5. Carrot and Oat Flour Dog Treats
- 2 cups whole grain Oat flour
- 1 cup applesauce(unsweetened)
- 1 cup carrots(shredded)
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped Parsley
- 1 tbsp Flax Meal
- Preheat your oven to 350F.
- Line two sheets with parchment
- Mix the flax with 3 tbsp of water and set aside for 5 minutes
- Combine carrots, oat flour, parsley and applesauce in a mixing bowl
- Mix the flax meal with the other ingredients and mix until you get a wet dough
- Roll the dough on a floured surface to approximately 1/4″ thickness.
- Cut the dough into desired shapes using a cookie cutter.
- Bake for about an hour. Make sure the cookies are crunchy
Alternatives to Homemade Diabetic Dog Treats
If you don’t want to undergo the stress of making a homemade dog treat for your diabetic dog, you may consider commercial dog foods that are formulated for diabetic dogs. Like any other type of commercial dog food, not all foods are recommended for your dog, so it is important to check the ingredients of every food you decide to purchase for your diabetic dog. Here are the best 7 commercial treats for diabetic dogs that we recommend:
ORIJEN is one of the top brands that are known to manufacture high-quality dog foods, so your pooch will be lucky to enjoy a product from them. We particularly suggest this grain-free protein food for your diabetic dog because it has high fiber content and its glycemic load is low. The formula features wild-caught fish, vegetables, fruits, and botanicals that will all benefit your diabetic dog.
This formulation from Wellness Core contains healthy amounts of chicken and turkey, which are all highly recommended for diabetic dogs. Another reason why we recommend this formulation is the fact that it doesn’t pack harmful carbs like soy and corn. Instead, it includes sweet potato, kale, spinach, and other good sources of fiber that will go a long way in keeping your dog’s blood sugar level in check.
Another great formulation that you need to get for your diabetic dog is this sweet potato treats from Brutus & Barnaby. If you have been following our post, we have highly recommended potato and related products because it packs natural antioxidants as well as plenty of minerals and vitamins that will complete your dog’s nutritional needs. Most importantly, this formulation is great for a diabetic dog with a sensitive stomach.
As the name suggests, this is a treat that is specifically formulated for your diabetic dog. So, you can feed it to your dog without the worry of blood sugar level spikes. It features natural ingredients and will cater to choosy dogs as well.
One of the features of a good treat for diabetic dogs is high fiber content. Your dog is guaranteed to get a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals from this formulation. Mainly made of natural apples and carrots, this dog food is easily digestible and is a great option if your diabetic dog is allergic to grains and proteins.
I had to include this formulation in this list due to its low glycemic index rating and natural ingredients that are all recommended for a diabetic dog. It contains 85% less carbs than other grain-free brands in the market, making it a perfect formulation for your diabetic pooch. Most importantly, it packs more than 46% protein and includes oat hulls and pea fiber, which are all excellent in slowing down glucose absorption in your dog’s body.
The last entry in our list is this weight management formulation from Nutro Ultra foods. The formulation contains only 10% fat, making it an excellent option for a diabetic dog that is struggling with weight issues. Most of the carbohydrate ingredients that it packs have low glycemic indexes, so it won’t spike your furry friend’s blood glucose levels.
Whether you decide to prepare a homemade treat for your diabetic dog or get him commercial foods, you need a blood glucose monitoring or testing system to keep track of your dog’s current health status. We recommend that you get AlphaTRAK 2 Blood Sugar Monitoring System (from Amazon) if you are looking for a monitoring system that will provide you with accurate information that you can leverage to keep your pooch healthy. It includes a large LCD display and 25 glucose strips, all of which help you get the information that you need fast and seamlessly.
More Tips for Preparing Safe and Healthy Diabetic Dog Treats
- Strive to make your dog treats hard and crunchy because unlike soft or moist treats, dogs eat and digest hard treats more slowly. This implies that the foods will not raise your dog’s blood sugar level quickly.
- Veggies can be given to your dog cooked or raw. Pumpkin and turnip are more delicious when slightly cooked but can be eaten raw. However, some like squash must be cooked before feeding your pup. Other vegetables like green beans, peas in the pod, and peppers are more enjoyable when crunchy or frozen.
- Remember to always keep your diabetic dog lean. The type and quantity of treats that you give to your dog should be aimed at helping him maintain lean body weight or shedding some weight if he is already obese. As aforementioned, excess weight or obesity exacerbates diabetes in dogs.
- If your dog is insulin-dependent, adjust the amount of insulin based on your pooch’s psychological reaction to homemade treats that you feed him so as to adequately control his blood glucose level. Most importantly, keep his diet consistent to avoid making unnecessary changes to his insulin intake due to blood sugar spikes.
What Human Food Can I Feed My Diabetic Dog?
You can share all the types of food that are listed above without any worry. The most important thing is to ensure that any food that you share with your diabetic pooch has low fat, carbs, and free from sweeteners. So, avoid things like white bread, cereals, white rice, corn (plus corn products), crackers, table scraps, and junk food as they are likely to cause a spike in your pooch’s blood sugar level. You shouldn’t feed your dog any canned human food either because they are usually loaded with high amounts of carbs. Most importantly, avoid canned foods with wheat gluten, corn, and corn gluten as they can be toxic to your dog. Finally, remember that obesity exacerbates canine diabetes, so avoid any type of food that can make your dog add extra pounds.
How Often Should You Feed A Diabetic Dog?
When it comes to feeding a diabetic dog, the most important thing to remember is consistency. Keep your dog’s diet consistent by giving him the same amount of food or treats at the same time every day. This way, you will be able to maintain your dog’s blood glucose levels within an acceptable range. Switching from one type of food or treat to another can alter his response to insulin. So, if you find a diabetic dog food that works well with your dog—whether it is homemade or commercial—stick to giving him the formula every day.
If your dog is insulin-dependent, ensure that his meals are timed to coincide with the peak action of the insulin. Here is a quick guide of how you can do this:
- Once a Day Insulin Injections: Give the first portion of the treat or meal before insulin injection and the second portion after 8-10 hours. This will go a long way in helping you observe your dog’s reaction to food before being injected with insulin.
- Twice a Day Insulin Injections: Both portions of the meal should be given before each injection. Give him the first portion before morning injection to allow you to see if he is feeding normally. Consider giving him the second portion 10-12 hours later before the second injection.
Discuss with your vet any changes you plan to make regarding the type of food, quantities, and feeding frequencies. And if you had involved your family members in feeding the dog, ensure that they are up to date with the new changes that your vet has suggested.
What Can I Feed My Picky Diabetic Dog?
If your diabetic is picky and cannot eat enough food to match their insulin dosage or simply refusing to eat at all, he may run into more acute health issues pretty fast. Accordingly, you should devise a few tricks to eat his food. Here are a few tricks you can use:
- Add a little of his favorite treat or food to the diabetic food to entice him to eat. This way, he will eat more of the food without picking out the yummy portion.
- If it is wet food, consider warming it for a few seconds to make it more aromatic and flavorful.
- Check if the food has expired. Improperly stored food may become stale fast and can put your dog off. Learn how to store dog food the right way here: How to Store Dry Dog Food Long Term: 17 Tips for Smart Dog Owners
- If it is dry food, consider feeding it to your dog piece by piece from your hand. It may also entice your dog to eat the food.
- If the above tricks fail, consult your vet to help you establish the root cause of the problem. Diabetic dogs may suffer from digestive problems and other health issues.
Due to the delicate balance expected from diabetic dog diets, don’t be tempted to give your dog alternative foods to those suggested by your vet without briefing the vet about your intentions. And even if your vet gives you the green light to change your dog’s food, remember to monitor what and how much your dog eats so that you are updated with his reaction to the new food—which may be handy if you need to speak the vest again.
What to Feed Diabetic Dog with an Upset Stomach?
If your dog has an upset stomach, consider feeding him a bland diet. By definition, these are diets that are rich in digestible proteins and carbs that don’t further irritate your dog’s stomach. Some of these types of proteins include turkey, lean ground beef, and chicken. Easily digestible carbs include pumpkin, boiled potatoes, oats, and barley. Because your dog is diabetic, keep carbs as low as possible, avoid fatty proteins, and observe all the suggestions in this post.
Alternatively, get prescription diets from a local vet. While they will cost you a few bucks, it is a convenient way of giving your pooch bland diet without the hassle of figuring out the best ingredients and preparing the whole meal.
Related Post: 8 Best Dog Dental Chews for Sensitive Stomachs
You don’t have to deny your pooch their favorite treat just because they have diabetes. The above guide should help you make the most delicious and healthy treats for your diabetic canine companion. To ensure that treats and any kind of medication that you give your diabetic are fruitful, ensure that he gets plenty of exercise to maintain his lean and healthy body. Like feeding, the exercise routine should be consistent to help balance his blood sugar levels.
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