A dog with diabetes requires a highly monitored diet in conjunction with insulin injections to maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Once diagnosed with diabetes, your dog will most likely be a diabetic for the rest of their life, so maintaining these healthy habits is crucial for their quality of life and overall health.
Because diet affects blood sugar, choosing a recipe that fits the nutrition requirements for diabetic dogs is necessary. Ideally, food formulations should have a majority of its calories coming from protein and equals parts fat and carbs. Carbs are where you need to be careful, as you should only feed your dog ingredients low on the glycemic index.
If you are looking for honest reviews of the best diabetic dog food, please keep reading, as we have put together a list of our top seven favorites. You can also find a buyer’s guide with helpful shopping information to consider when looking for the best food for your dog.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Model||Price||Sizes Available||Editor Rating|
|Hill's Science Diet|
|ROYAL CANIN Glycobalance |
|Dr. Harvey's Paradigm||3 Sizes||4.1/5|
|Hill's Prescription Diet||1 Size||3.9/5|
The 7 Best Dog Foods for Diabetic Dogs
1. Ketona Chicken Recipe Dry Food – Best Overall
The Ketona Chicken Recipe Dry Food contains an excellent formula for diabetic dogs. It is high in protein, with over 46% of its calories being chicken and pea protein, and it is low in carbs (5%), sugar (0.5%), and starch (5%). It is also a grain-free recipe. Overall, it is an ideal food for diabetic dogs.
Though this dog food is pricey, it’s worth it for the high quality.
2. Hill’s Science Diet Wet Dog Food – Best Value
The Hill’s Science Diet is the best diabetic dog food for the money because you receive 12 cans of food for a relatively low price. This formula contains vegetables and lean protein, which is important for a diabetic diet. Your dog can lose or maintain weight on this formula in a healthy way.
The main drawbacks for this formula are the watery formulation, although that doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of nutrients. The gravy is just a looser consistency. It also does contain by-products, which can be problematic because you don’t always know what they contain. Overall, this is a good formula.
The Royal Canin Glycobalance Dry Dog Food is specially formulated for dogs with diabetes. The recipe includes controlled amounts of fats and balanced fiber to moderate your dog’s glycemic response. Complex carbs also help regulate your dog’s blood sugar.
This food is quite expensive, which is why it is our premium choice. You also need a vet’s prescription to purchase this, which makes it more difficult to come by. It is worth the money, though, because it provides your dog with a specialized formula that is guaranteed to help them maintain a healthy, balanced diet.
4. Dr. Harvey’s Superfood Dog Food
Dr. Harvey’s Paradigm Superfood Dog Food is a pre-mix formula that you use in conjunction with a protein and oil of your choosing. It is low carb and grain free and has no dyes, fillers, wheat, corn, soy, and preservatives. It’s great for weight management and contains low-glycemic vegetables for slow digestion to avoid blood sugar spikes.
This formula is not a complete dog food meal because you need to add your own protein and oil. Because of this, it is an expensive option.
5. Hill’s Prescription Gastrointestinal Dry Dog Food
The Hill’s Prescription Diet Gastrointestinal Dry Dog food is primarily intended to help prevent weight gain. It is a low-fat and low-calorie recipe, but it does have some protein to help maintain lean muscle mass.
This is a generally expensive option and does not include nearly as much protein or as good quality of ingredients as Ketona or Royal Canin. Although it is a good option for the weight management aspect of a diabetic diet, it is not a well-rounded blend to assist with all your diabetic dog’s needs.
6. WholeHearted Dry Dog Food
WholeHearted Dry Dog Food is a grain-free option that will help your dog with weight control. It has a good amount of lamb protein, which is necessary for a healthy diabetic diet. It is also sold at a low price, meaning it won’t break the bank when you need to restock.
This formula is actually high in fiber, which could be a pro or a con depending on what your dog needs. High-fiber diets have not been proven to be beneficial for diabetic dogs, as they can actually cause inappropriate weight loss and gastrointestinal discomfort. However, if your dog is obese, it may be a good feature to help them shed unwanted pounds. This formula does contain by-products, though, which are not ideal forms of protein; you generally want a formula with whole meat, like chicken or lamb.
7. Ketogenic Pet Foods Grain Free Dog Food
The Ketogenic Pet Foods Grain Free Dog Food has over 60% of calories from protein. It also contains fat but it is quite a low amount. This formula is starch free and grain free, so there are not any ingredients that could cause a spike in your dog’s blood sugar.
The low amount of fat and virtually non-existent carbs are not ideal for diabetic dog food. Your dog still needs fat and carbs, just a reduced amount. This is also a fairly expensive option for not containing a well-rounded formula. You may need to include supplementary ingredients in order to give your dog a balanced diet.
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How diabetes affects diet
Diabetes requires your dog to shift to a diet where their glucose levels are kept low and controlled. They will probably still need insulin injections to help maintain that balance, but the nutrients included in their food play a big part in keeping their glucose levels low, such as by providing a high-protein diet with minimal fat and carbohydrates. Approximately 30-40% of your dog’s caloric intake should be from protein, while the other 60-70% should be derived from carbs and fat.
Nutrition facts to consider
Protein should be the main component of a diabetic dog’s diet. Roughly about a third of their calories should be from protein. The best type of protein will be from whole meats, not meat by-products.
Fat should make up about 30% of your dog’s daily calories. Fat is important because it gives your dog energy and helps them stay nutritionally balanced throughout the day. Fat will not make your dog overweight by itself; weight gain can occur if given too many carbs or being overfed in general.
Carbs in your diabetic dog’s diet need to be low glycemic. Examples of this are barley or sorghum. Carbs should generally be restricted or at least monitored, as they can interfere with the balance of your dog’s blood sugar.
High-fiber diets are not proven to be beneficial nor harmful to a diabetic dog. There are a few studies that indicate benefits for some dogs, but the same diet could cause intestinal side effects or weight loss. Sometimes, weight loss can be good, but it can be inappropriate for already thin diabetic dogs.
What to avoid
Avoid carbs high on the glycemic index. These can cause your dog’s blood sugar to increase, which is what you want to avoid.
Avoid a high-fiber formulation, as high-fiber diets are not necessary nor recommended for diabetic dogs. Stick to a formulation that is high in protein and contains lower amounts of fat and carbs.
Avoid irregularity when feeding your dog. Stick to a schedule, so your dog eats at the same time each day and consumes the same amount of calories. Meals should be accompanied by insulin injections within the hour, to help avoid a blood sugar rise.
Tips when buying
Look for formulations specifically for diabetic dogs, as they should generally have the right amounts and types of ingredients needed for a well-balanced meal. Even if the dog food says it’s for diabetic dogs, however, make sure to research the ingredients and the brand to make sure it actually is a viable option that is going to help them.
When you find a quality dog food that works for your dog, stick with it. It’s important to keep a consistent diet, and that includes using the same formulation so they get the same balance of ingredients and same number of calories at each meal.
Our best overall diabetic dog food choice is the Ketona because it has a simple, healthy formula that is high in protein and low in carbs and sugar, making it an ideal option for a diabetic dog food. The best value is the Hill’s Science because you receive a good amount of product for a relatively low price. A more premium option is the Royal Canin because it is specifically vet-recommended, which means it is a high-quality option, though quite expensive.
We hope that this information will be invaluable as you shop for a quality diabetic dog food.
Featured image credit: Ketona Chicken Recipe Dry Food for Adult Dogs, Amazon
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.
- A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
- The 7 Best Dog Foods for Diabetic Dogs
- Buyer’s Guide