Yes, dogs can suffer from diabetes. An estimated 1 in 300 dogs has it, so it’s more common than you may think.
When your dog is diagnosed, you’ll want to feed them a diet that helps them manage their disease and get the nutrients their body needs.
But what is the best diabetic dog food for dogs with diabetes, and will you need a prescription formula?
You may be surprised to know that you can feed your dog commercial dog food as long as it meets their dietary requirements.
Our favorite option is Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low-Calorie dry dog food.
It’s low in calories and fat, high in protein, and contains plenty of fiber — all essential parts to a diabetic-friendly diet!
But there are plenty of dog foods for diabetic dogs on the market, too — including an option for pups and picky eaters. Here are the best choices.
Our Best Dog Food for Diabetic Dogs
- Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low-Calorie Dry Dog Food (Best Diabetic Dog Food)
- Nulo Freestyle Puppy Grain-Free Salmon & Peas Dry Dog Food (Best for Puppies)
- Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Senior Dry Dog Food (Best for Seniors)
- Hill’s Science Diet Adult Light Small Bites Dry Dog Food (Best for Small Breeds)
- Royal Canin Large Breed Weight Care Dry Dog Food (Best for Large Breeds)
- Natural Balance Original Ultra Whole Body Health Reduced Calorie Canned Dog Food (Best Wet Food)
- Wellness CORE Digestive Health Wholesome Grains Dry Dog Food (Best Budget Food)
- Dr. Tim’s Weight Management Metabolite Formula Dry Dog Food (Best Premium Food)
- Addiction Herbed Lamb & Potatoes Raw Dehydrated Dog Food (Best Tasting Food)
- Nom Nom Pork Dog Food (Best Fresh Food)
10 Best Dog Food for Diabetic Dogs Reviewed
Each of the formulas on this list follows AAFCO’s nutrient profile guidelines. Before switching your dog to new dog food, please consult with your veterinarian.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Salmon Meal, Chickpeas, Dried Peas, Oat Groats
- Guaranteed Analysis: 26% Crude Protein, 7.5% Crude Fat, 10.5% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 315 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-fiber and low-fat dry dog food for diabetic dogs
If your dog is diabetic and needs to watch their weight, low-calorie dog food with plenty of protein is essential. This can help them maintain their shape or lose weight and keep their muscle mass.
Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low-Calorie dog food is a perfect option. It’s crafted explicitly for overweight adult dogs or diabetics who need extra support.
It’s full of protein to keep your dog satiated, high in fiber for better digestion, and lower fat to make weight loss easier.
This formula starts with chicken and salmon meals. These lean animal proteins provide chondroitin and glucosamine for healthy and limber joints. And they contain natural DHA for cognitive function and a healthy heart — essential for diabetic dogs.
Chickpeas and oat groats are full of prebiotic fiber and essential minerals like selenium for metabolic support. Plus, this extra fiber aids in healthier digestion and helps control inflammation.
Even though this recipe is low in fat, it includes salmon oil. This adds omega fatty acids for a shiny coat and provides extra energy.
Dog parents love how this food helps their dog drop stubborn pounds while nourishing joints and muscles for daily activities.
This formula can make your dog poop more and some owners complaint about their dogs pooping twice as much as before.
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Salmon, Turkey Meal, Menhaden Fish Meal, Whole Peas, Chicken Fat
- Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 17% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 428 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Grain-free and high-protein puppy food with DHA for brain development
While it’s more common for adult dogs to have diabetes, the disease can affect puppies too. If this is the case for your furry baby, some foods can support their needs.
Nulo Freestyle Puppy dry dog food is a great solution. It starts with real deboned salmon, menhaden fish meal, and turkey meat meal.
These ingredients offer a whopping 30% protein for growing pups to develop lean muscle mass. And they provide essential amino acids and DHA for brain development and flexible joints.
Chickpeas and sweet potatoes offer grain-free carbohydrates that are low glycemic and easy to digest. And they also provide iron and zinc for heart health and metabolism support.
Dried apples and blueberries provide an antioxidant boost — helping keep your dog’s immune system robust. And added probiotics aid in better digestion.
This natural food is free from chicken and egg proteins. It also doesn’t include any soy, corn, or wheat.
Puppy parents say even their pickiest pups enjoy this food. And, they appreciate that it doesn’t cause any adverse reactions or symptoms for their young dogs.
Some didn’t like the strong smell of the food and they also complained about smellier poops.
- First 5 Ingredients: Boneless Chicken, Dehydrated Chicken, Whole Spelt, Whole Oats, Chicken Fat
- Guaranteed Analysis: 27% Crude Protein, 15% Crude Fat, 5% Crude Fiber, 9% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 371 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Gluten-free and non-GMO diabetic dog food made with low glycemic carbs
As your senior dog ages, managing their blood sugar spikes may become more challenging. By offering your diabetic dog low-glycemic dog food, you can help keep these spikes from happening as often.
Farmina N&D Ancestral Grain Senior dry dog food includes non-GMO ingredients, lean protein sources, and gentle grains for a nourishing and diabetic-friendly dog food.
It starts with fresh boneless chicken, which provides 90% of the protein in this food. And it contains l-carnitine and iron for metabolic support and extra energy.
Whole spelt and whole oats provide gentle prebiotic fiber for easier digestion. And, because these ingredients are low on the glycemic index, they’ll provide nutrients without making it hard for your dog to absorb their food.
Dried blueberries, spinach, and pomegranates pack a punch with antioxidants to support your dog’s immune system. And they also provide essential vitamins like vitamin A for eye health.
Dog owners with senior pups were happy to note that this food helped keep them regular. And they even noticed a positive difference in their coats.
Some didn’t like the kibble size, they said it’s too big for older dogs with teeth problems and they had a hard time eating it.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Pea Fiber, Whole Grain Wheat, Whole Grain Corn
- Guaranteed Analysis: 20% Crude Protein, 5.5% Crude Fat, 14% Crude Fiber, 10.5% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 271 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Grain-free, low-fat, and high-fiber diabetic dog food for small breeds
Small dogs can quickly gain weight due to overnutrition. This can pose a big problem if your small breed has diabetes since extra weight can exacerbate diabetic symptoms.
But, with Hill’s Science Diet Small Bites, you can feel comfortable feeding your pup food made just for them.
This formula is lower in calories and fat has plenty of protein for satiation, and has plenty of fiber to flush out inflammation and lower blood glucose levels.
It starts with just one main animal source — chicken meal. This lean protein provides glucosamine, chondroitin, and taurine for a strong heart and limber joints. And added chicken liver flavor can entice even the pickiest eater to gobble up this nutritious food.
Cracked pearled barley and pea fiber add in prebiotic fiber for easy digestion. And these complex carbohydrates aid in all-day energy and absorption without a spike in blood sugar.
Apples, cranberries, and broccoli provide antioxidants for a robust immune system. Plus, they have other nutrients like calcium and phosphorus for strong bones.
Hill’s Science Adult doesn’t include artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Small dog parents say their vets recommended this food for their diabetic dogs, especially if they were at risk for liver or kidney issues. They liked the formula but some complained about constipation.
- First 5 Ingredients: Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Pea Fiber, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat
- Guaranteed Analysis: 25% Crude Protein, 9% Crude Fat, 13% Crude Fiber, 11.7% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 261 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-fiber and low-fat dog food for large breeds with diabetes
Large breeds are more likely to have Type II diabetes due to their eating habits and ability to gain weight quickly.
And, because some breeds are prone to kidney, liver, and pancreas issues, too, diabetes can make these problems worse. Instead, keep your large dog’s diabetes in check with Royal Canin Large Weight Care dry dog food.
This formula is perfect for giant breeds that tend to gain weight. And it features an ideal fiber blend to help keep him feeling full and regular while maintaining lean muscle mass.
The main animal protein is chicken by-product meal. And while some by-products are lower quality, Royal Canin sources theirs right from chicken meat, feet, and bones. This protein contains l-carnitine to boost the metabolism and glucosamine for supple joints.
Pea fiber, corn, and barley provide high fiber content to help your pup stay regular and lower blood glucose levels. And, for essential fatty acids, Royal Canine includes fish oil and chicken fat.
This quality dog food works well with large dogs weighing between 56 and 100 pounds. It doesn’t include any artificial preservatives or flavors.
Pet owners say they choose this food because of recommendations from their vets. Many say this was the best option if you don’t want to switch your dog to prescription food.
This formula isn’t ideal for picky eaters as some dogs don’t like the taste.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Broth, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Salmon, Brown Rice
- Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 8% Crude Protein, 5% Crude Fat, 2% Crude Fiber, 78% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 405 kcal/can
- Key Feature: High-protein wet dog food with complex carbohydrates for blood sugar balance
If your dog is older, missing teeth, or needs wet food for any reason, it’s easy to choose the first can you see. The moisture content is important, because it can meet their needs for getting enough water. But not all wet foods are created equally.
Some are higher in fat and don’t have enough fiber for diabetic dogs. But Natural Balance Ultra Reduced Calorie wet dog food is a high-quality option.
It starts with farm-raised deboned chicken and chicken liver, salmon, and wild duck. These real animal proteins boast healthy doses of taurine for heart health, omega-3 fatty acids for brain function, and chondroitin to protect and strengthen cartilage.
It’s essential to keep in mind that this recipe isn’t grain-free. Instead, it includes easy-to-digest grains like oat hulls. They offer low glycemic carbohydrates and fiber for longer and healthier digestion.
Menhaden oil is the bulk of the healthy fats in this food. It contains DHA and ARA for a brain boost and keeps your dog’s joints nourished.
Dog moms and dads think that Natural Balance canned food is great as a topper or an all-in-one formula for their dogs. Those with multiple dogs love to mix it with Natural Balance dry food to entice their older pups to eat.
Reviews mention lack of consistency in the texture, some cans have more gravy and some are more dry.
- First 5 Ingredients: Deboned Chicken, Turkey Meal, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Barley
- Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 4% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 395 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: High-protein and budget-friendly diabetic dog food with easy-to-digest grains
When your pup is diagnosed as diabetic, costs for their medication, insulin, and more could add up. Plus, you’ll most likely need to switch your dog’s diet to a diabetic-friendly formula, which can be expensive too.
But, Wellness CORE Digestive Health dry dog food is a budget-friendly solution with the same high-quality ingredients if you need to stay within budget.
This formula starts with deboned chicken and turkey meal. The high-quality meat meals come from the same farm-raised chickens and turkeys that Wellness CORE uses in their food. They provide plenty of protein for satiation and glucosamine for gut and joint health.
Salmon oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and ARA. These offer a boost in brain function and give your dog healthy skin and a shiny coat.
Oat groats and pumpkin are complex carbs high in dietary fiber and prebiotics. Not only do these improve regularity, but they contain nutrients like beta-carotene for eye health.
For extra digestive support, Wellness Core sprinkles live probiotics over their food. These help fight gut inflammation and keep your dog’s tummy and digestive system happy.
Canine owners say this dog food is the only one that clears up their pups’ digestion problems. Some complained about strong smell after opening the bag.
- First 5 Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Whole Oat Groats, Dried Field Peas, Powdered Cellulose
- Guaranteed Analysis: 30% Crude Protein, 10% Crude Fat, 8% Crude Fiber, 10% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 268.6 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Low-fat and low-calorie premium diabetic dog food with probiotics for digestive health
Yes, it’s okay to splurge on your dog. And, if you’re looking for a dog food formula that is as close to possible to prescription food without the need for constant refills, why not choose food that a veterinarian makes?
Dr. Tim’s Weight Management Metabolite dry dog food is an all-natural recipe designed by a Ph.D. canine nutritionist and experienced veterinarian.
This dry dog food is slow-cooked over gentle flames for a tasty but healthy kibble that your dog will adore.
This low-calorie high-quality dog food still has 30% Crude Protein, making it a high-quality choice for dogs that need the extra support and satiation.
It starts with chicken and salmon meals that come from antibiotic-free and farm-raised chicken and wild-caught salmon. They provide essential amino acids and DHA for cognitive function and lean muscles.
Fish oil offers additional DHA, as well as EPA. This inclusion can aid in coat health and stop your dog from shedding. It also lines the digestive tract to help your dog absorb their food better.
This premium dog food also contains a patented “BC30” probiotic. This blend of live flora and vitamins helps promote a strong digestive and can aid in weight loss.
Pet owners say this healthy diet helps their dogs “battle the bulge” and keeps them full for hours, even when they’re active! They reported that the kibble is quite small and might not be suitable for large breed dogs.
- First 5 Ingredients: Lamb, Potatoes, Carrots, Flaxseed, Coconut Oil
- Guaranteed Analysis: 22% Crude Protein, 12% Crude Fat, 6% Fiber, 12% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 455 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Low-fat dehydrated dog food with raw animal proteins for picky dogs
Dehydrated dog food is the perfect balance between convenience, taste, and nutritious ingredients. And, it’s some of the best tasting food too, so it’s great for super picky dogs or those who need a bit of extra raw ingredients in their diet.
Addiction Grain-Free Raw dehydrated dog food is an excellent option for diabetic dogs that need food to entice them to eat.
It starts with all-natural and grass-fed New Zealand lamb. The lamb is seasoned with fragrant rosemary and thyme for extra flavor before dehydrating. And this gentle protein is excellent for dogs with sensitive stomachs or allergies to chicken and beef.
Coconut oil provides medium-chain triglycerides to promote skin and coat health. And it also helps boost joint function and keep them flexible.
Nutrient-packed superfoods — like apples, blueberries, cranberries, papayas, and spinach — provide antioxidants to fight against free radical damage. And, they add a boost to your pup’s immune system with vitamin C and vitamin A.
This grain-free food is dehydrated using a lower temperature and rapid-air drying technology. This allows your dog to get the benefits of a raw diet while keeping them safe from harmful bacteria.
Pet parents say they found this dehydrated food affordable for what you get. They love that they can make 4 times the amount but still get the convenience of easy-to-portion food.
Some dogs might not like the taste. Their parents said they don’t like the consistency and the food doesnt’ rehydrate very well.
- First 5 Ingredients: Ground Pork, Russet Potatoes, Green Beans, Squash, Kale
- Guaranteed Analysis: (wet matter basis) 7% Crude Protein, 5% Crude Fat, 2% Fiber, 75% Moisture
- Caloric Content: 177 kcal/cup
- Key Feature: Human-grade fresh dog food made for your dog’s needs
Your diabetic pooch may need a diet suited to their needs. If you want to be more in control of the ingredients, vitamins, and minerals that your dog has in their food, give Nom Nom a try.
This human-grade food is customized to your dog’s dietary requirements.
It starts with locally sourced ingredients like ground pork, russet potatoes, and kale. Many of these ingredients are also non-GMO and can even be consumed by you!
You’ll need to take Nom Nom’s online quiz to get started. You’ll answer questions like any potential allergies they have, their weight, height, and diseases. From there, Nom Nom calculates your dog’s caloric, protein, and fat needs.
Then, you’ll choose between four different recipes — turkey, pork, beef, and chicken. Once you’ve chosen the recipes your dog would like, Nom Nom ships the food right to your door every two to four weeks.
The formulas are naturally low in calories and fat while also providing plenty of fiber and protein. So you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. And, you’re free to try all four and see which one your dog enjoys the best.
Dog owners enjoy this easy-to-customize food, as well as the quality of the ingredients. Many say they can manage their dog’s diseases better with a fresh food option. It’s more expensive option that dry kibble though.
How to Choose the Best Dog Food for Your Diabetic Dog
It’s essential to find a dog food that fits your diabetic pup’s needs. Here’s what you need to know.
What You Need to Know About Diabetes in Dogs
When your dog eats, their body breaks down the food as proteins and sugars. Then, their pancreas releases a hormone called insulin, which helps your pup break down the sugar (also known as glucose).
When their pancreas can’t produce the proper amount of insulin, or if their cells don’t absorb it, this is known as diabetes.
There are two types of dog diabetes — Type I and Type II.
Type I canine diabetes happens when your dog’s pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. This is the most common diabetes type in dogs.
Type II canine diabetes is usually caused by obesity or other health issues that lead to it. This is when the cells in your dog’s body can’t absorb the insulin that the pancreas creates.
When your dog has diabetes, you may see some of the following symptoms:
- Excessive water drinking
- Increased urination
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Larger appetite or decreased appetite
- Cloudy eyes
- Chronic urinary or skin infections
If your dog has any or multiple symptoms, take them to the vet immediately. No matter what, canine diabetes is a serious condition and should be treated as such.
Since there is no cure for diabetes, it’s essential to manage it with proper diet, exercise, and medication when required.
Breeds That May Be Predisposed to Diabetes
While any dog can have diabetes, a few breeds are predisposed to developing it.
These breeds are:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Toy Poodles
- Miniature Schnauzers
Now, this doesn’t mean that if your dog is one of these breeds, they’re guaranteed to have diabetes. However, it’s crucial to keep an eye on their health and consult your vet if you notice any symptoms.
Diabetes and Diet
Once your dog has been diagnosed with diabetes, a diabetic diet will be necessary. Here’s what to pay attention to.
Monitor Caloric Intake
Too many calories can cause weight gain and exacerbate diabetic symptoms. When your dog is diagnosed, you’ll want to lower and monitor their caloric intake.
For many diabetic pooches, 22-25 calories per pound that they weigh is a reasonable limit. But of course, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s daily caloric needs.
Avoid Carbs High In Glycemic Index
If your furry friend eats more carbs high on the glycemic index, their blood sugar may spike. This can cause fatigue, extreme thirst, head pain, and more.
Instead, focus on carbohydrates that are lower on the glycemic index to manage glucose levels. These include chickpeas, lentils, oats, brown rice, sweet potato, and regular potato.
It will be essential to keep your dog’s sugar levels in check. Part of this means fueling their body regularly so their sugar levels don’t spike or drop drastically.
Luckily, many diabetic dogs do well on a twice-a-day feeding schedule, like most pups without the disease. But, you’ll want to discuss with your vet if that schedule will work for your dog.
If your dog takes insulin, four times a day may be necessary. You’ll want to feed them during insulin administration, and then every four hours or so.
What To Look For In Diabetic Food
Even if a dog food isn’t labeled “diabetic-friendly,” that doesn’t mean it won’t work for your canine. Here’s what to look for in formulas that could support your dog.
A high-protein diet can help lower your dog’s blood sugar levels and improve glucose control.
Plus, a higher-protein diet keeps your dog satiated and less likely to overeat or beg for more food. This, in turn, can help diabetic dogs lose weight and maintain healthy muscle mass.
And, by keeping blood sugar levels balanced, protein can help your dog avoid extreme diabetic symptoms, like dehydration and fatigue.
Diabetic dogs can and should eat healthy carbs. However, they don’t need as many as other dogs.
Instead, focus on complex carbohydrates like oats, and avoid foods that don’t have quality protein sources but are filled with carbs.
Fiber is vital for all dogs. But for diabetic pooches, it’s essential.
A higher fiber can help lower blood sugar levels. And, it helps keep your pup’s digestive system regular and free of inflammation.
Low Glycemic Index
As noted before, low glycemic index foods keep your dog’s blood sugar from spiking unnecessarily. This is especially important if your dog is a Type I diabetic since it’s harder to manage insulin levels.
Carbohydrates lower on the glycemic index include most legumes and beans, potatoes, and grains like oats, barley, and brown rice.
Low to Moderate Fat
Your dog gets their energy from healthy fats. But, if your diabetic dog has Type II diabetes, too much fat can cause weight gain and make diabetic symptoms worse.
So be sure to lower their food’s fat percentage to about 10% to 15%. This will give them plenty of energy and keep them at a healthy and manageable weight.
Prescription Diabetic Food vs. Non-Prescription Diabetic Dog Food
Should you give your dog a diabetic diet food that’s prescription or non-prescription? This will depend on your diabetic pet and your veterinarian’s recommendation.
Prescription dog food is typically more expensive. But, if your pooch needs excellent food with more fiber or ingredients that aren’t in many commercial options, this may be the best choice.
If your vet says it’s okay to feed your dog non-prescription food, focus on high fiber, low glycemic, and higher protein options.
And, be sure to pay for the highest quality you can so they can remain healthy. Real animal proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats like salmon oil are better than by-products and wheat when you can afford them.
Just because your dog has diabetes, it doesn’t mean they have to give up tasty food that is easy for you to buy.
And, they can still live a long and healthy life. You just need to support your diabetic dog’s diet with the best ingredients and food possible.
Our choice is Natural Balance Fat Dogs Low-Calorie dry dog food.
This is the best diabetic dog food because it has low glycemic index ingredients, plenty of protein, and healthy carbs. I’s an excellent food for diabetic dogs.
But the other dog foods for diabetic dogs on this list can work too. Whether you want a certain kind of food (like wet or dehydrated) or need to avoid certain ingredients, this list includes the best options.
Want to know more about foods for diabetic dogs? Here are some common questions and their answers.
What is diabetic dog food?
There is no one specific dog food. However, there are prescription and non-prescription dog foods that are helpful for diabetic dogs.
These foods are high in fiber, low in simple carbohydrates, low glycemic, and have more significant percentages of protein. And, many are a bit lower in fat, usually around 10% to 15%.
How often should I feed my diabetic dog?
First, it’s essential to talk about your dog’s feeding schedule with your vet. But many diabetic dogs can do well on a twice-a-day schedule, just like other dogs.
Do diabetic dogs need special food?
Not necessarily, but they do need high-quality food. If your diabetic dog needs a prescription diet, your vet will notify you of this during their check-up. If not, look diabetic dog food brands high in fiber and protein while being lower in carbs and fat.
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