Canine Diabetes Wiki
Discussion of prescription diets for various medical conditions.
Diabetic Diets for Dogs

Also see Fiber for a discussion of how it can be helpful with keeping blood glucose levels steady and in some cases, reduce insulin needs.

Diet is critical for diabetics, always. Diet-related info for diabetic pets is gathered here.

Semi-moist food [1] for dogs and cats can contain a lot of simple carbohydrate sugars. [2][3] These could be problematic in diabetes regulation. [4][5]

Since you're not able to give the normal dose of insulin unless enough food is eaten, it's most important that the shots be given otherwise there will be no improvement in the high blood glucose levels. [6] The answer here is to let him/her eat whatever he/she will gladly eat in the interest of being able to give full doses of insulin as directed, [7] putting the diet change "on hold" for the time being.

And the most important thing to keep in mind is: get or keep them eating; it is possible to achieve regulation on a non-prescription diet. [8] These quotes from Dr. William Schall in a 2009 Diabetes presentation say a lot: [7]

"...if the diabetic dog refuses the ideal diet it is not in the patient's best interest to rigidly insist that the caregiver only feed the prescribed food. The consequences of feeding a non-prescription diabetes diet are usually minimal as the increased dose of required insulin is seldom greater that 2-4%.

"It is also important that some latitude in feeding times be considered. Although timed feedings that correspond to insulin administration maybe ideal, some dogs (although with less frequency than cats) refuse to adhere to timed feedings, having been intermittent nibblers all of their lives. In as much as most dogs are treated with basal insulin only (no feeding associated pulse insulin administration), dogs that refuse to eat specifically at the time of intermediate acting insulin administration can usually be satisfactorily regulated. In the overall context of initial home insulin administration, efforts should be made to keep dogs eating even if the food type and feeding schedule is not textbook optimized."

Dr. Tony Buffington of Ohio State University agrees, [9] "Remember, it is always better for a patient to eat some of the "wrong" diet than none of the "right" diet!"

Dogs with diabetes are prone to both pancreatitis and hyperlipidemia, or too many fats in the circulating blood. Use of a low-fat diet may help avoid or limit these complications.[10][11]

Because the ingredients and the composition of many pet foods can be subject to change, mostly because of their availability and cost factors, this can have an effect on the control of diabetes. [12] A non-prescription food with a "fixed formula" would be best because of the consistency of its preparation. Fixed formula foods contain precise amounts of their ingredients so batches or lots do not vary much if at all. "Open formula" foods contain the ingredients shown on the label but the amount of them can vary, however they must meet the guaranteed analysis on the package. Prescription foods are fixed formulas, while most non-prescription ones are open formula unless the manufacturer states otherwise.[13]

These descriptions are used for the Ohio State University Diet Search.


  1. Harkin, Kenneth. Preventing Obesity May Reduce Diabetes Risk in Felines. Kansas State University.
  2. Dry, Semi-Moist, or Canned-What Type of Food is Best for Your Pet?. Pet Education.
  3. Canine Diabetes-Dietary Management. WebMD.
  4. Ruchinsky, Renee, et. al. (2010). Diabetes Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats-page 6. American Animal Hospital Association.
  5. Scott-Moncrieff, Catherine (2009). Canine and Feline Diabetes Mellitus I-page 4. Western Veterinary Conference.
  6. Cook, Audrey (2007). Latest Management Recommendations for Cats and Dogs with Nonketotic Diabetes Mellitus. DVM 360.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Schall, William (2009). Diabetes Mellitus. DVM 360.
  8. Nutrition-Dietary Control. Intervet.
  9. Buffington, Tony (2004). Food Intake in Therapy. WSAVA.
  10. Herrtage, Michael (2009). New Strategies in the Management of Canine Diabetes Mellitus. World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).
  11. Fleeman, Linda; Rand, Jacqueline (2005). Beyond Insulin Therapy: Achieving Optimal Control in Diabetic Dogs. Centre for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
  12. Canine Endocrinology. New Hope Animal Hospital.
  13. Brooks, Wendy C.. Diet for the diabetic dog. Veterinary Partner.
  14. Diet Table for Dogs. Ohio State University.
  15. OSU Diet Manual. Ohio State University.
  16. Bergener, Iwan A. (2010). Approach to Canine and Feline Colitis. WSAVA.

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