Diets for Diabetic Dogsby Tracey Sandilands
Dogs with diabetes mellitus need constant monitoring to live happy, healthy lives. Once your veterinarian diagnoses diabetes, he will advise you if the dog needs daily insulin injections or if the condition is manageable through diet modifications. A suitable diet for a diabetic dog depends on the dog’s overall health. If he suffers from the additional medical problems that frequently accompany diabetes, such as obesity, pancreatitis or a heart condition, certain foods may do more harm than good. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
Feed the diabetic dog according to a fixed routine. This helps his system to balance food intake with the release of insulin, and avoid blood glucose highs and lows. Veterinarians usually recommend feeding a young dog twice a day, but an older dog may need to eat smaller meals more frequently to digest his food properly. Start by feeding him at the same time each morning and evening. Watch for signs that he is exceptionally hungry between meals, which could indicate low blood glucose, which you can counter with more frequent feeding.
The ideal diet for a diabetic dog includes high fiber content and complex carbohydrates. The fiber reduces the rate at which the dog digests the food and absorbs the carbohydrates. This lowers the blood glucose peak after eating. Several pet food manufacturers make food specially formulated for diabetic pets. Check the labels to determine whether the food will be suitable for your dog, based on the daily caloric requirements for his weight and activity levels. Obese dogs should lose weight on a high fiber diet, while thin dogs should have low fiber until they regain weight.
Prepare a home-cooked diet for your diabetic dog, which contains 40 percent protein and 30 percent each complex carbohydrates and fruit and vegetables. Use carbohydrates such as brown rice, barley, rolled oats or sweet potato, protein from lean meat, poultry, eggs, fish or legumes, and fruits and vegetables excluding tomatoes, grapes and other acidic items. Feed the meat raw if the dog will accept it; alternatively, boil everything together with just enough water to cook the carbohydrates, to avoid pouring away excess liquid full of nutrients.
Eliminate table scraps and commercial treats, which usually contain high quantities of both fats and sugar. If you offer treats, make them part of the feeding schedule and feed them at a mealtime. This will help you achieve the best possible blood glucose balance for your dog. Purchase or make liver treats that are air-dried without any additives, and offer them sparingly if the dog is overweight. Alternatively, make delicious dog treats such as pumpkin pupcakes, made with a 15-ounce can of pure, mashed, unflavored pumpkin, 3/4 cup bean flour and 1/2 cup dry, powdered milk. Mix all the ingredients together and bake in a mini-muffin pan at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
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