When and How to Feed my Diabetic Dog
Dietary therapy is a critical part of diabetic dogs’ treatment. Your vet prescribed to your dog the type and the amounts of food as well as the precise schedule of the meals. You will have to be fully compliant with this prescription.
Dogs are subject to post-prandial hyperglycemia. It means that blood glucose concentration rises sharply some time after your dog has eaten its ration. In healthy (non-diabetic) dogs, enough endogenous insulin is secreted by the pancreas. Insulin brings down blood glucose and permits the cells of the body use glucose as a source of energy.
In diabetic dogs, insulin is not or poorly secreted by the pancreas. Insulin has to come from an exogenous source: the insulin injections. The maximum effect of insulin has to match up with this post-prandial increase in blood glucose. This is why you have to precisely comply with the feeding times and insulin injection times your vet has defined.
The nature of the diet will determine the time interval between food ingestion and blood glucose concentration peak. The amount of food will determine the overall glycemic increase.
It is relatively easy to control a dog diet. Your pet will eat only what you give it. It can’t get around as humans do sometimes. Nevertheless, there can be sometimes some palatability issues. Your dog may refuse to eat all its meal. Maybe is it due to the change in dietary habits, or it doesn’t like its new food. This is an important issue that needs you refer rapidly to your vet.
Drinking water should be available all the time.
Controlling your dog’s diet also permits to act on its weight. A diabetic dog should be neither too fat nor to lean.
When to feed diabetic dogs
Dogs do have a post-prandial hyperglycemia. Blood sugar usually rises in the 90 minutes following the meal. Post-prandial hyperglycemia is more important and lasts longer in the diabetic dog than in the non-diabetic. As the insulin injection has a marked effect upon hyperglycemia, it is important to synchronize it to the time of the meal. Ideally, the meal should be given between 2 hours to 6 hours after the injection, according to the type of insulin administered.
Sometimes and for practical reasons (for your own time constraints), your vet may recommend you give the meals just after the insulin injection. Alternatively, your vet may tell you to give food just before the insulin injection: you will be sure the dog has eaten all its food and you will avoid the onset of hypoglycemic episodes.
A diabetic dog should receive a fixed number of meals per day, usually two, at the same hour(s) every day.
What to feed to diabetic dogs
The composition of the food recommended for diabetic dogs vary from the composition of regular food by their content in fibers, fat, carbohydrates and proteins
Carbohydrates: diabetic dog foods should have low content in carbohydrates. Commercial diets generally include complex carbohydrates.
Fibers slow down digestion and especially glucose absorption. They help reduce the glucose peak that follows food ingestion. They are recommended for diabetic dogs.
High fat content diets cause insulin resistance and promote the glucose production from the liver. A diet for diabetic dogs should be low in fat (<30%).
Proteins are a very important part of a carnivorous regimen, especially for diabetic dogs that tend to lose weight. It may be a problem if your dog has a renal disease, which is frequent in diabetic dogs. In this case, content of proteins will be limited and highly digestible proteins will be preferred.
Generally, the commercial specific diets prescribed for diabetic dogs are those who have been designed for weight loss. Manufacturers recommend high-fiber, low-fat diets with complex carbohydrates. The amount of food will be reduced if the dog is overweight or increased if it is too thin: obesity leads to insulin resistance and leanness is a sign for uncontrolled diabetes. Ideally, a dog should receive the same meals every day.
Treats are authorized for diabetic dogs, but in limited quantities. Speak about them to your vet and decide on with him on the best solution for you and your dog.
Insulin injections and feeding times need to be precise. You will have to get very well organized at home.