8 Best Dog Foods for Diabetic Dogs in 2022 – Review & Top Picks!


If your beloved dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, you may be in shock and overwhelmed by the situation. The good news is that with the right diet, lifestyle, and care, your dog can still enjoy many years of good health. Indeed, a suitable diet can help better control the blood sugar levels of your diabetic dog.

We’ve reviewed and selected eight brands of food suitable for diabetic dogs, to help you find the one that will best suit your pooch’s needs. However, before making any changes to your pet’s diet, you will need to consult your veterinarian.

divider-pawA Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022

The 8 Best Dog Foods for Diabetic Dogs

1. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula – Best Overall

Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance Formula (1)

First Three Ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, barley, corn gluten meal
Food Form: Dry food
Life Stage: Adult

Royal Canin is a master of the art of making high-quality medical foods that are popular with dogs. Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Glycobalance is no exception: these dry kibbles have been designed to help regulate blood glucose in your diabetic dog, while still being appetizing.

It is a complete dietetic food that contains few carbohydrates and starch. In addition, it has a high protein content to maintain the muscle mass of the dog. This formula also contains antioxidants to strengthen the immune system. However, it is only available with a prescription from your veterinarian. Besides, it is not cheap. But unfortunately, the majority of diabetic dog food options are not exactly budget-friendly.

Pros

  • Recommended by most veterinarians
  • High protein content
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels
  • Contains antioxidants to strengthen the immune system

Cons

  • Available only with a prescription
  • Pricey, but it’s comparable to many other prescription dog foods

 


2. Purina Pro Plan Weight Management – Best Value

Purina Pro Plan Weight Management (1)

First Three Ingredients: Chicken, rice, whole grain wheat
Food Form: Dry food
Life Stage: Adult

Dogs with diabetes can be predisposed to gaining weight. The Purina Pro Plan Weight Management formula helps these pups lose weight while maintaining lean muscle mass. This dry food is also more economical than other options designed for dogs with diabetes, although still recommended by most vets.

However, a few dog owners have noticed that it gives their dogs more gas. Plus, since it contains grains and wheat, it may be more difficult for dogs with sensitive stomachs to digest.

Pros

  • Real chicken as the first ingredient
  • Good value for money
  • Help maintain a healthy weight
  • Packed with probiotics for better digestive health

Cons

  • Not suitable for dogs allergic to grains or wheat
  • Some owners reported that this food made their dog very gassy

3. Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d Multi-Benefit – Premium Choice

Hill's Prescription Diet w_d Multi-Benefit

First Three Ingredients: Whole Grain Wheat, powdered cellulose, chicken meal
Food Form: Dry food
Life Stage: Adult

Hill’s Prescription Diet is food designed by veterinarians and nutritionists for dogs with digestive problems. This clinically tested food helps dogs maintain or lose weight (while keeping their muscle mass intact), manage blood sugar levels, and support the immune system. And these aren’t just empty claims made by the manufacturer: this food fulfills its promises for most dogs with excess weight and unstable blood sugar. However, regular check-ups with your veterinarian are the only way to know if this food is really improving the health of your pooch.

Besides, a premium choice comes with a higher cost and the bill can get steep in the long run. Additionally, you will need a prescription from your vet before purchasing this option online, which can be time-consuming for some owners.

Pros

  • High content of fiber and protein
  • Effective in helping obese dogs lose weight
  • Most dogs digest this food better than other options

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Only available with a prescription

4. Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula – Best for Puppies

Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula (1)

First Three Ingredients: Water buffalo, lamb meal, sweet potatoes
Food Form: Dry food
Life Stage: Puppies

You don’t have to wait for your puppy to develop diabetes to start feeding him in a different way! Taste of the Wild High Prairie is a dry food made with quality protein, such as bison and lamb. In addition, it does not contain any grain, wheat, soy, or other additives that can be harmful to the sensitive stomach of a small puppy.

However, be aware that a completely grain-free diet may not be suitable for your pet unless it has been specially recommended by your veterinarian. Make sure you have his approval before purchasing this brand, to avoid throwing your money away for unsuitable food for your puppy.

Pros

  • Real meat is the first ingredient
  • Made with quality ingredients from sustainable local and global sources
  • No grains, corn, wheat, artificial flavors, or artificial colors
  • Most puppies adore this food, even the pickiest

Cons

  • Contains berries and starches
  • Grain-free formula may be harder to digest for some puppies

5. Visionary Pet Foods Keto

Visionary Pet Foods Keto (1)

First Three Ingredients: Chicken meal, chicken, chicken fat
Food Form: Dry food
Life Stage: Adult

Just like humans, dogs can also follow the keto diet! And it can be very effective for dogs with diabetes, as the extremely low carbohydrate content in Visionary Pet Foods helps keep blood sugar levels stable. This dry food option contains no grains, wheat, fruits, sugars, or other fillers. The ingredient list is short and sweet and doesn’t contain any impossible-to-pronounce names, which is – most of the time – a good indicator of the quality of the product.

However, this food can cause bloating in some dogs, especially if the change in diet is done too quickly. Additionally, some dogs can develop an intense thirst, which is a common and normal effect of ketogenic diets. Either way, be sure to check with your vet first to make sure this option is right for your dog. 

Pros

  • Extremely low carb
  • Made in the USA
  • Very high protein content

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May cause bloating and intense thirst in some dogs

6. ORIJEN Original Grain-Free

ORIJEN Original Grain-Free (1)

First Three Ingredients: Chicken, turkey, flounder
Food Form: Dry food
Life Stage: Adult

Orijen is a well-known food brand that is popular among doggie owners. Its grain-free version offers an impressive amount of high-quality protein, paired with a very low carbohydrate content. This makes this dry food a good option for diabetic dogs.

Unfortunately, its high price may turn off many buyers. Plus, small dogs may have a hard time chewing these kibbles, while others may just turn their noses up at these top-quality ingredients, despite being palatable to most dogs! Thus, a safe bet would be to buy a smaller bag to try it out with your pooch first.

Pros

  • Contains probiotics
  • Made in USA with whole ingredients
  • Includes fresh meat, organs, cartilage, and bone

Cons

  • Kibbles may be too big to chew for small dogs
  • Expensive

 


7. ACANA Red Meat Recipe

ACANA Red Meat Recipe (1)

First Three Ingredients: Beef, deboned pork, beef meal
Food Form: Dry food
Life Stage: Adult

Acana is a brand that is also renowned and loved by many dog owners and their pets. This Red Meat Recipe contains high-quality protein, including beef and pork. Fiber is also found in large quantities and comes from vegetables, legumes, and fruits added to the recipe. But, it also results in higher carbohydrate content than in the other options, which is not optimal for a dog with diabetes.

Plus, it’s an expensive option, especially when compared to brands recommended by vets. Also, several dog owners report that their pups have shunned this food, although there does not seem to be any particular reason. It’s probably just a matter of taste and texture!

Pros

  • Contains a good proportion of fiber from vegetables, fruits, and legumes
  • High-quality ingredients
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Contains more carbs than other options
  • Expensive
  • Many dog owners report their dogs don’t care for the taste

8. Dave’s Pet Food 95% Premium Chicken

Dave's Pet Food 95% Premium Chicken (1)

First Three Ingredients: Chicken, water, chicken liver
Food Form: Wet food
Life Stage: Adult

Dave’s Pet Food is a wet food that can be fed to dogs with high protein requirements and as an alternative to raw food. The list of ingredients is stellar: only chicken, water, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, the high-water content is ideal for diabetic dogs with excessive thirst.

However, this product contains very little fiber and more fat than the other options, which is not suitable for dogs with excess weight. Besides, this diet is expensive, especially if you use this option as the primary source of food for your dog.

Pros

  • High-quality ingredients with only chicken, water, vitamins, and minerals
  • Lower-calorie recipe for dogs who are overweight
  • Grain-free

Cons

  • Low fiber content
  • May not be the best option for overweight dogs
  • Pricey

divider-pawBuyer’s Guide – Purchasing the Best Diabetic Dog Food

What Is Canine Diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that causes insulin deficiency. This means that the pancreas makes less insulin or that the receptors in the cells can’t respond adequately to this hormone, so the effectiveness of insulin is reduced.

Insulin is the main regulatory hormone in the metabolism of carbohydrates and dietary sugars, but it also influences the metabolism of fats and proteins, and a deficiency of this hormone compromises the functioning of the whole body.

There are two types of diabetes in dogs, just like in humans:

  • Type I diabetes: This type of diabetes is also called insulin-dependent. It is characterized by a complete cessation of insulin production by the pancreas. So, without insulin, the sugar stays in the blood and the cells cannot function well. Type I diabetes is most commonly seen in dogs, and these dogs need daily insulin injections to maintain their blood sugar levels.
  • Type II diabetes: Type II is the type of insulin-resistant diabetes. The dog’s pancreas is still able to produce insulin, but the cells of its body cannot respond to it adequately: this is why it is called insulin resistance. This type of diabetes can affect dogs of all ages but is mostly found in older or obese dogs.

Dogs with diabetes will exhibit certain symptoms, such as excessive thirst, weight loss, and severe lethargy. Your vet will be able to make a diagnosis using blood tests, a urinalysis, and a careful examination of the dog’s symptoms. Unfortunately, diabetes cannot be cured, but your dog’s quality of life can be improved with treatments prescribed by the veterinarian and with proper nutrition.

white boxer dog eating
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

What Should Diabetic Dog Food Consist Of?

What is the best food for a diabetic dog? This question cannot be answered with a single sentence, just as it is impossible to talk about one type of optimal food for a perfectly healthy dog. All dogs are different and therefore have individual needs. Large dogs have different energy and nutrient needs than small dogs, just as athletic dogs will not eat the same food as dwarf dogs. Also, senior dogs will have very different needs from puppies.

Thus, to find the right diet for a diabetic dog, you will need to consider its age, breed, weight, gender, and level of activity. To find the perfect diet for your dog’s needs, get advice from your veterinarian or a dog nutrition expert.

However, it is a good idea to know which nutrients are essential for your dog with diabetes and which ones you should avoid. So, your dog’s food (whether it comes in cans or kibbles, or whether you prepare it at home) should be high in protein and fiber.

This is because since fiber slows the flow of sugar into the blood, it helps keep insulin levels stable. On the other hand, carbohydrates and fats are difficult to digest and also encourage obesity. This is why their consumption should be very limited: no more than 20% to 25% carb matter on a dry matter basis.

What Not to Feed a Diabetic Dog

Avoid treats as much as possible, which are usually too high in sugars, and encourage overweight in dogs. The rule to follow? No more than 10% of your dog’s diet should consist of treats.

At least as important as good, healthy food, mealtimes play a very important role for dogs with diabetes. A regular daily routine is even more crucial for diabetic dogs than for healthy dogs. It is advisable to divide your dog’s daily ration (which must be strictly observed) into two or three portions, to be given to your dog at different times of the day. Set fixed times, fill your pet’s bowl accordingly, and clean his bowl afterward, especially if your dog has not finished his meal.

labrador retriever eating dog food
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

How to Prevent Diabetes in Dogs

The best way to prevent diabetes in dogs is to provide them with a healthy lifestyle. Feed your pooch a high-quality diet rich in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates, given at set times and in reasonable quantities. Watch his weight and limit treats and sweets, as well as table scraps.

Finally, make sure your dog can burn off his energy each day with walks, physical activities, and lots of playtime!

divider-pawConclusion

If properly cared for, a dog with diabetes will enjoy a good quality of life, and although the diabetes is still incurable, its treatment will allow the dog to live normally.

To help your dog maintain good health, you can choose one of the options from our list that works best for your pet. We strongly recommend that you try Royal Canin Glycobalance Formula or Hill’s Prescription Diet, as you will need to go through your veterinarian first to get a prescription. This will allow you to discuss these choices directly with the professional.


Featured Image Credit: Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

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