Canine diabetes is an all too common disease for dogs and finding appropriate treats for dogs with diabetes can be challenging. Many treats marketed as "diabetic dog treats" aren't the most palatable options and your choices are limited. In this article we will discuss some natural treats that are tasty and safe to feed to your diabetic dog.
Sometimes it's hard to say no when they give you those big ol' puppy eyes, and we often underestimate the effects that treats can have on our pet's blood sugar levels. Instead of cutting out 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?
Diabetes Mellitus sometimes called "sugar diabetes" can be linked to poor diet and obesity. Diabetes is the inability of your dog's pancreas to produce enough insulin to manage blood sugar levels. After eating, sugars get digested and enters your dog's bloodstream.
The natural response is for the pancreas to release insulin, which essentially attaches to the sugar in their blood and allows cells in their body to properly utilize the sugar for energy. When the pancreas is under performing, or if your dog's diet is too rich in sugar, the sugar remains in the bloodstream instead of providing energy for their cells. High blood sugar is called hyperglycemia.
By feeding a diet that is low glycemic, meaning that they have a smaller or slower effect on your dog's blood sugar levels, diabetes can sometimes be treated without medications or injections. 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, but the fat content can be a factor.The lowest fat options are not always the lowest carb options.
What you should look for instead is high-quality, low-glycemic, and low to moderate fat products. It's okay to rotate some low fat and moderate 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.
Merrick Texas Hold'ems Beef Lung - Reward
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. Texas Hold'ems are made with pure beef lung, sourced and manufactured in the USA, 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 be easy to overfeed.
Hagen Heritage Sweet Potato Fries - Vegetarian
Hagen Sweet Potato Fries 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 much smaller effect on blood sugar because they digest much slower. Always watch your portions. For smaller dogs or weight issues, feed smaller pieces or less frequently. They are soft enough to tear into smaller pieces for training treats or bigger chucks 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.