What Treats for My Diabetic Dog? Discover the Ultimate Guilt-Free List!

Giving treats to your furry friend is one of life’s simple pleasures. Watching your dog’s eyes light up when you pull out a tasty morsel is priceless. However, when your canine companion has diabetes, you need to be more careful about treats. After all, you want rewards to be safe, and healthy, and not send blood sugar levels soaring!

As a veteran veterinarian and content writer who has helped many diabetic dog owners, I’m here to walk you through the ins and outs of choosing and making diabetic dog treats. Read on to learn about:

  • The top veterinarian-recommended commercial treats.
  • Guidelines on using natural fruits, veggies, and proteins as treats.
  • How to prepare homemade diabetic dog treats.
  • Tips for adjusting, monitoring, and storing treats safely.

Let’s start with some quick facts on the growing epidemic of diabetes in dogs.

Interesting Facts on Diabetes in Dogs

Fact 1: Over the past 10 years, diabetes diagnoses in dogs have risen by 32% in the U.S.
Fact 2: Like humans, dogs can develop both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Fact 3: Approximately 1 in 300 adult dogs in the United States have diabetes.
Fact 4: Many commercial dog treats are packed with sugar and pose problems for diabetic pups.

 

With more furry friends struggling with this chronic disease, it’s vital we understand how to provide diabetic dogs with healthy, low-glycemic treats. First, let’s go over some diabetes basics.

What is Diabetes in Dogs?

Diabetes is a chronic disease where the body cannot properly regulate blood sugar levels. In dogs, this is usually because of insufficient insulin production by the pancreas. Without enough insulin to move sugar from the bloodstream into cells, blood glucose levels spike.

Left uncontrolled, diabetes results in sugar building up in the bloodstream. This causes a ripple effect of problems like weight loss, severe thirst, increased urination, cataracts, weakness, and fatigue. For diabetic dogs, dietary changes are crucial to managing the disease. It’s not just about calories – the types of nutrients matter enormously. This is where treats come into play.

Can Diabetic Dogs Have Treats?

The short answer is yes – diabetic dogs can and should still get treats! Used properly, treats are an invaluable tool for rewarding, training, and bonding with your dog. The key is moderation. Treats must be accounted for in your dog’s overall daily diet. Work with your veterinarian to determine appropriate treat levels based on weight, activity, insulin needs, and other factors.

PRO TIP: Using a blood glucose monitoring kit at home allows you to check how different treats impact your dog’s blood sugar. This helps determine safe treat choices and appropriate serving sizes. Track trends over time rather than basing decisions on single readings which can fluctuate for various reasons.

What Makes a Suitable Treat for a Dog with Diabetes?

The most critical factor is a low glycemic index. This measures how quickly and how much a food spikes blood glucose. High protein, high fiber treats are best, as they:

  • Get metabolized and absorbed slowly to minimize insulin surges.
  • Help regulate appetite and digestion.
  • Provide lasting energy and satiety.
  • Aid muscle maintenance and weight control.

When shopping for any dog treat, but especially for a diabetic dog, there are three key things to evaluate:

Top 3 Things to Consider When Shopping for Treats

  1. Read The Label: Check the guaranteed analysis and list of ingredients for sources of protein, fat, fiber, sugars, etc.
  2. High Protein: Look for good sources of animal or plant-based protein like chicken, salmon, eggs, or legumes.
  3. How Often & How Much They Are Consuming: Calculate amounts appropriate for your dog’s unique needs.

Now let’s review some specific commercial and natural diabetic dog treat options.

The Best Diabetic Dog Treats

There are a few veterinarian-recommended brands marketing treats specifically tailored for dogs with diabetes. Here are my top picks:

Top 5 Commercial Diabetic Dog Treats

Treat Key Features
Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Gastrointestinal Canine Dog Treats High protein (82%), moderate fat (6%), and fiber (4.5%). Fortified with vitamins and minerals. Digestible, palatable, crunchy treat.
Old Dog Cookie Co. All Natural Diabetic Dog Treats Made with garbanzo bean flour, oat fiber, eggs, and pumpkin. Only 7% carbs. Fortified with vitamins and minerals. Crunchy texture and peanut butter flavor.
Ella’s Dog Treats Baked with a blend of barley flour, rice flour, oat fiber, eggs, and yogurt. Only 3.5% fat and 10% carbs. Fortified with vitamins.
Purebites Chicken Breast For Dogs Only one ingredient – 100% freeze-dried raw chicken breast. Very high protein, low glycemic choice.
Canine Cravers Single Ingredient Dog Treats Various high protein options like duck jerky, salmon skin, and beef lung. Just one whole food ingredient.

Our Criteria and Experience: How We Chose the Best

We examined dozens of products and brands using several criteria:

  • Ingredient Quality – We looked for high protein, meat as the first ingredient, minimal carbs or sugars, and natural preservatives when used.
  • Nutritional Value – We prefer treats with added vitamins, minerals, probiotics, etc. to promote overall health.
  • Taste & Texture – Variety is key! We included crunchy biscuits, soft chews, crispy jerky, freeze-dried options, etc. that dogs love.
  • Lab Testing & Veterinary Input – We consulted experts and researched to make sure treats are accurately advertised as diabetic-friendly.
  • Pet Parent Reviews – We took into account the firsthand experiences of people using these treats with their diabetic pups.

Through extensive research, testing, and veterinary advice, these are the clear winners!

How do Diabetic Dog Treats Differ from Regular Treats?

These specialized treats differ in a few key ways:

  • They are intentionally crafted with very specific low-glycemic ingredients and formulas.
  • Many are fortified with vitamins and minerals important for diabetic dogs like B vitamins, Vitamin E, chromium, manganese, etc.
  • They contain beneficial supplemental fiber from ingredients like pumpkin, peas, sweet potato, oats, etc.
  • Most use animal or plant-based proteins as the sole or first ingredient.
  • They minimize sugars and avoid ingredients like corn, wheat, by-products, and artificial additives.

Let’s compare that to many regular commercial treats which tend to:

  • Use cheap fillers as their main ingredients – wheat, corn, soy, by-products.
  • Contains significant added sugars, like honey, molasses, and corn syrup.
  • Rely on refined white flour that spikes blood sugar.
  • Include artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
  • Not provide complete, balanced nutritional supplementation.

Can Non-Diabetic Dogs Eat These Treats?

Absolutely! These treats offer health advantages for all dogs:

  • The high protein and fiber keep energy levels steady rather than spiking and crashing.
  • The limited ingredients and lack of common allergens make many good options for dogs with sensitivities.
  • The vitamins and mineral fortification provide complete nutrition missing from many regular treats.

While these specialized treats pose no harm to non-diabetic dogs, any treats should make up no more than 10% of the total daily calories for healthy pups.

Why Feed Crafted Treats For Dogs With Diabetes

Natural Treats for Diabetic Dogs

Along with commercial diabetic dog treats, unprocessed, real foods can make excellent treats too. Here are some great options:

Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh produce provides important vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some good choices include:

  • Carrots – low glycemic, high fiber. Can be served raw, steamed, or frozen.
  • Apples – moderate sugar but rich in antioxidants like quercetin and vitamin C. Cut into small chunks and monitor closely.
  • Blueberries – lower sugar, packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals like resveratrol.
  • Spinach and kale – low calorie, low glycemic leafy greens. Blend into smoothies.
  • Pumpkin – rich in fiber, low glycemic. Look for unsweetened canned pumpkin.

Natural Treats and Their Nutritional Values

Treat Calories Glycemic Index Fiber Vitamins/Minerals
Carrots 35 per medium carrot Low (35) 2.8 g Vitamin A, beta carotene
Apple 65 per medium apple Moderate (38) 2.4 g Vitamin C, quercetin
Blueberries 80 per 1⁄2 cup Low (53) 2.4 g Vitamin C, manganese
Spinach 10 per 1⁄2 cup Low (15) 2.2 g Vitamin K, A, C, iron
Pumpkin 40 per 1⁄2 cup Low (75) 5 g Vitamin A, potassium
PRO TIP: Choosing organic fruits and veggies whenever possible is wise to minimize pesticide exposure for dogs. Thoroughly wash all produce regardless.

Meat and Meat Alternatives

Unseasoned, uncooked meat, eggs, and fish provide great protein sources:

  • Chicken or turkey: Skinless, boneless breast meat sliced into small bites. Avoid fatty/salty deli meats.
  • Lean beef: Raw, unseasoned lean ground beef or sirloin tips. Avoid high-fat cuts.
  • Salmon or tuna: Fresh, unseasoned sushi-grade fish chopped into small chunks.
  • Eggs: Scrambled, hard boiled, or freeze dried egg treats.
  • Liver or gizzards: Freeze dried or baked plain chicken livers or duck/chicken gizzards.

These single ingredient meat treats offer balanced nutrition without unwanted additives.

Homemade Diabetic Dog Treats

While commercial diabetic dog treats provide useful convenience, making your own at home lets you fully control the ingredients. Here are some tasty homemade recipes:

1. Baked Vegetable Treats

Pure carrots, green beans, sweet potato, and eggs. Shape into bite-size drops on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

2. Arugula and Turnip Chips

Toss baby arugula and thinly sliced turnips with avocado oil. Bake at 225 degrees F for 2 hours until crispy.

3. Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

Mix canned pumpkin, chia seeds, plain Greek yogurt, and cinnamon. Spoon into silicone molds and freeze.

4. Protein Bites

Blend together almond butter, oat flour, flaxseed, eggs, and pureed chicken breast. Roll into quarter-sized balls and refrigerate or freeze.

5. Carrot Mug Cake

Shred carrots and mix with eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and vanilla extract. Microwave in a mug for 1 minute. Let cool before feeding.

With a little creativity, you can come up with endless healthy flavor combinations using simple, real food ingredients appropriate for diabetic pups.

Next Steps: Monitoring and Adjustment

Finding suitable treats is an ongoing process of paying close attention to how your dog reacts and adjusting accordingly. You’ll need to:

  • Have regular vet checkups to monitor blood sugar trends. Provide thorough treat logs.
  • Track portions and fatten content. Increase or decrease as needed.
  • Note if certain treats cause spikes or dips in blood sugar based on your observations and home testing results.
  • Rotate through a variety of treats to keep your dog interested and engaged.
  • Store treats properly (see below) and watch expiration dates. Discard old or spoiled treats promptly.

Work closely with your veterinarian and keep adjusting until your dog’s diabetes is well-managed. Patience and persistence pay off!

Further Reading

If you want to dive deeper into diet and nutrition for diabetic dogs, check out:

  • The Diabetic Dog by Kate Cuthbertson
  • Canine Diabetes: What You Need to Know by David Randall DVM
  • “Dietary Management of Diabetic Dogs” from the journal Veterinary Clinics
  • “Effect of Dietary Carbohydrate, Fat, and Protein on Postprandial Glycemia and Energy Intake in Cats” research study

Managing The Costs Of Diabetes In Dogs

Conclusion

Providing safe, healthy treats is essential to enrich your diabetic dog’s life. Stick to high protein, high fiber, and low glycemic options in moderation. Commercial diabetic dog treats and real food treats offer nutritious alternatives to sugary processed treats. Track your dog’s individual responses to customize its treat regimen. With the right balance of love and care, your pup can continue enjoying reward-based training and special snacks. Stay vigilant and work hand in hand with your veterinary team to give your diabetic furry friend the best chance at healthy longevity. They deserve nothing less!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I give my diabetic dog fruits like apples and bananas?

Yes, in very small quantities. Opt for lower glycemic fruits like berries and avoid high sugar fruits like grapes or bananas. Monitor blood sugar closely when introducing new fruits.

2. How often should I give treats to my diabetic dog?

Follow your vet’s recommendations, typically treats should make up no more than 10% of daily calories. Give treats with a main meal, not on an empty stomach.

3. Are store-bought diabetic treats safe?

High quality brands made with natural whole food ingredients and minimal carbs/sugar are generally safe. Always inspect labels carefully first.

4. What are some high-protein treat options for diabetic dogs?

Great options include chicken breast, freeze dried liver, tuna, low-fat greek yogurt, eggs, and single ingredient jerky treats like duck or salmon skin.

5. Can treats replace meals for a diabetic dog?

No, proper meal planning is crucial for diabetic dogs. Only use treats to supplement balanced meals, not in place of them.

6. Are dental chews safe for diabetic dogs?

Some veterinarian-approved dental chews are made just for diabetic dogs using safe ingredients. Avoid any containing sugar. Monitor blood glucose when using.

7. How can I make homemade diabetic dog treats?

Simple treats include baked chicken breast, veggie muffins, frozen plain Greek yogurt bites, air fried sweet potato sticks, and carrot & peanut butter pupcakes.

8. What should I avoid when choosing or making treats for my diabetic dog?

Avoid sugary ingredients like corn syrup, honey, molasses, white flour, by-products. Also avoid fatty, salty, heavily processed ingredients.

9. Can my non-diabetic dog eat diabetic dog treats?

Yes, they are nutritious for all dogs. But non-diabetic dogs don’t require specialized diabetic formulas. Use portion control when sharing treats.

10. How can I calculate the nutritional value of homemade treats?

Use online databases like the USDA FoodData Central, or check dog food nutrient profiles to estimate based on ingredients used.

11. Are there any emergency treats for sudden low sugar levels in diabetic dogs?

Keep a supply of corn syrup or honey on hand. Rub a small amount on the gums in an emergency for a quick glucose boost before heading to the vet.

12. Can treats cause diabetes in dogs?

No, diabetes is caused by a lack of natural insulin production often brought on by genetics, pancreatic issues, or obesity – not by treats alone. However unhealthy treats can exacerbate problems.

13. How can I store homemade diabetic dog treats?

Most homemade treats last 5-7 days refrigerated, or 2-3 months frozen. Seal airtight containers, label them with the recipe & date, and monitor closely for any signs of spoilage. Discard promptly if moldy, slimy, or smells off.

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