Diabetes is a common disease in dogs these days. Finding the right treats for dogs with these special needs can be challenging. Many treats marketed as "diabetic dog treats" aren't the most palatable options and your choices are limited to a only a few flavours. Stick around to find out which regular dog treats are safe and appropriate for diabetic dogs.
Sometimes it's hard to say no when they give you those big ol' puppy eyes. It's easy to underestimate the effects that a few small treats can have on our pet's blood sugar levels, but what else can you do? Cut out treats altogether?
Instead of putting a kibosh on treats entirely, look for treats that will complement their diet and help manage their diabetes.
Managing diabetes through diet is achievable, but you must carefully choose all aspects of their diet, including treats. Although diabetes can often be successfully managed through diet, it's still essential that you are consulting with your vet to monitor your pet's progress.
What is Diabetes?
After eating, sugars get digested and enter your dog's bloodstream. Sugars that can't be used for energy quickly are stored in their liver and fatty tissues by the hormone glucagon, which is produced in their pancreas.
When blood sugar levels are used up, the pancreas is also responsible for producing the hormone insulin, which releases those stored sugars back into the blood.
When the pancreas is under performing, insulin production is limited or non-existent. This leads to an over saturation of stored sugars in the liver and fatty tissues, and an inability to regulate the amount of sugar in your dog's bloodstream.
Dog's that do not produce enough insulin may not be able to manage their diabetes through diet alone, but can limit the amount of insulin that must be administered manually.
To learn more about canine diabetes, take a peak at this helpful breakdown, Managing Diabetes in Dogs.
The Connection Between Pancreatitis and Diabetes
Like many life-long diseases, diabetes often has a tag-a-long illness called acute pancreatitis. Much like the debate of which came first, the chicken or the egg, it's difficult to tell the cause and effect relationship between diabetes and pancreatitis. What we do know is that they are commonly associated with one another.
What is Pancreatitis?
Acute pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas, which can be linked to obesity and inappropriate high-fat diets. The pancreas has two critical functions, the production of hormones like insulin and glucagon to control blood sugar and energy distribution, and the production of digestive enzymes.
When inflammation occurs in the pancreas, digestive enzymes are forced out of the pancreas and into the abdominal cavity. Once released, the digestive enzymes do what they do best, digest fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Essentially the pancreatic enzymes begin to digest the pancreas and surrounding tissues.
Pancreatitis can be life-threatening if left untreated. For more info about pancreatitis, take a look at this informative article, Pancreatitis in Dogs.
When considering the possibility of pancreatic issues, we need to look at more than just the sugar effect of ingredients, but also the quality and quantity of fat. This is not to say that all low fat treats are good for diabetes. The lowest fat options are not always the lowest carb options, so the entire nutrient profile for the treats should be taken into consideration.
What you should look for instead is high-quality, low-glycemic, and moderate fat products. It's okay to rotate some low, moderate, and high fat treats into the routine, but avoid consistently feeding high fat products.
Obesity has a significant effect on overall health, but particularly with metabolism. Pet's that are overweight use their calories poorly and are less likely to need as many sugars and fats to meet their energy levels. It's important to monitor your dog's weight carefully and be proactive about managing it.
Wondering if your dog is overweight? Check out our tips on determining if your dog is fat.
Overfeeding, especially in regards to treats, can drastically affect your pet's weight. Choose foods and treats that are healthy and always feed in appropriate portions based on weight, age, breed and activity level.
6 Best Treats for Diabetic Dogs
When looking for the right treat, you shouldn't just find one option and strictly feed that. Just like with food, variety and rotational feeding is important. This will give you treat options for different occasions and types of treating, and it will prevent your dog from getting bored of the eating the same old treat everyday.
With all that said, let's take a look at the 6 best treats for dogs with diabetes:
Ziwi Peak Lamb Tripe- Natural Chew
Tripe is the stomach lining of any bovine species, including cow, buffalo, lamb, and goat. Ziwi Peak sources farm-raised, grass-fed lamb from local farmers in New Zealand.
Using a natural smoking and air drying process allows the exclusion of preservatives and still keeps the product free of harmful bacteria. Tripe is exceptionally palatable, and the texture provides abrasion to help clean your dog's teeth as they chew. Check out our blog on the benefits of tripe for more information.
Tripe is not a low in fat as many of the other treats on our list, but this single ingredient treat is low glycemic and high protein, making it an excellent chew for helping manage your dog's diabetes.
Granville Island Love Me Longer - Biscuit
Granville Island biscuits are hand-crafted in small batches from their facility in Vancouver BC, to ensure quality and consistency in each cookie. Love Me Longer biscuits are formulated to help boost your dog's immune system and benefit overall health.
Granville Island Treatery believes in using simple natural ingredients like herbs to support immunity, provide antioxidants and protect skin and coat health. The cookies are made using chickpeas, eggs, blueberries and a variety of herbs which all contribute to this treats low glycemic score and low-fat content.
Love Me Longer treats are part of a more extensive line of solution treats, all suitable for diabetic dogs. Check out all of Granville Island biscuits to find the treat that can benefit your dog the most.
K9 Naturals Beef Lung Protein Bites
While some organ meats can be very rich, lung tissue is the perfect low-fat choice. Lung is packed with vitamin A and B12 and is both high in protein and low-glycemic.
K9 Naturals Beef Lung Bites are made with pure beef lung, sourced and manufactured in New Zealand, with no preservatives or artificial flavours. Beef lung is quite light and crunchy, so it's easy to break into small training sized bits.
Dogswell Chicken Tenders - Jerky
These chicken tenders are a tasty chunk of chicken breast made from 100% farm-raised chickens, free of grain, gluten and starches. Both high protein and low-fat, chicken tenders are a great low-glycemic, diabetes-friendly snack. Unlike most chicken jerky treats, Dogswell chicken tenders are soft, chewy nuggets that are perfectly sized for portion controlling your pet's snacking preferences.
With added flaxseed oil, turmeric and vitamin A, these treats promote stronger immunity and defense. Use these treats as a healthy reward or break into smaller pieces for high-value training treats.
Crump's Mini Beef Trainers - Training
100% freeze-dried beef liver cubes are a great training treat. Although these treats are the highest fat treat on our list, these tiny cubes are easy to portion to suit your dog's needs. When we say tiny, we mean it, they are basically large crumbs.
No more cutting or tearing your treats into smaller sizes because they are perfect just the way they are. These all-beef treats have zero carbs and will have a minimal effect on your dog's blood sugar.
Feed these treats in moderation. They are calorie dense, which is why they are so teeny-tiny, but it can still be easy to overfeed.
Hagen Heritage Sweet Potato Treats - Vegetarian
Hagen Sweet Potato Chews are made from locally-sourced Canadian sweet potatoes. If you are looking for a vegetarian option for your diabetic dog, stop looking, you found them. Sweet potatoes are delicious and low-glycemic, but also super low in fat.
We don't recommend carb-based treats very often for diabetic dogs, but starches have a smaller effect on blood sugar because they digest much slower. Always watch your portions, though.
For smaller dogs or weight issues, feed smaller pieces or offer them less frequently. They are soft enough to tear into smaller pieces for training treats or bigger chunks as a reward.
Another option is to use low-glycemic veggies from home. Check out this list of Fruits and Vegetables that are safe to feed to your dog. For diabetes management, we recommend sticking to vegetables instead of fruits, but this blog will give you some ideas of what veggies are best and how often you can feed them.
The best part about this list is that all of these treats are suitable for any dog, diabetes or not, and they are delicious to accommodate those picky pets. Change up your treat routine and offer a variety of treats, in moderation of course.
Treats should never be more than 10% of your dog's diet, but this is especially important for dogs suffering from diabetes.
If your dog is overweight, treats should be the first thing that you try to limit. Shedding some pounds, or pound depending on the size of your dog, will help them regulate their blood sugar better and improve their overall quality of life.
Do you have a diabetic dog? Tell us about your favourite diabetes-friendly dog treats in the comments below.
Posted by Krystn Janisse
Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channelling some crazy cat lady vibes with her five lovable, but rebellious cats.