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Tips for diabetic pets

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

Diabetic dieting tips for your Dog or Cat.

If your dog or cat is diagnosed with diabetes. Take a deep breath. With good care, your companion can lead a long, healthy life.

When pets have diabetes, staying trim is key. Losing those extra pounds can help cells better use insulin. That makes it easier for the body to turn food into fuel.

The goal for any pet with diabetes is to keep blood sugar (or glucose) levels as close to normal as possible.

Food as Fuel

Your veterinarian will determine how many calories your pet needs every day, based on his weight and activity level. Once you know that number, it's important to keep a close eye on what he eats and how much.

Your vet may recommend prescription dog or cat food, or a homemade diet developed by a veterinary nutritionist. Your vet can tell you the best way to go about changing your pet's food.

Even the best diet won’t help if your pet doesn’t eat it, and you can't give insulin on an empty stomach. It can make him very sick.

If your pet isn't eating as much, it could be because he doesn't like the food. It could also mean he has another problem, or that he's having diabetes-related complications. Talk with your vet.

Different diets for dogs and cats

For dogs, most vets recommend a diet high in fiber and complex carbohydrates and low in fat. Fiber slows the entrance of glucose into the bloodstream and helps your dog feel full. Low-fat foods have fewer calories. Together, the diet can help your dog eat less and lose weight over time.

But make sure your pet drinks plenty of water. Fiber takes water from the body, and that can cause constipation and other problems.

Regarding cats specifically, while dogs will remain dependent on insulin, a portion of cats may attain remission and insulin therapy may be discontinued.

Factors that improve the chance of remission in cats are switching the cat to a high protein, low carb diet, and gaining diabetic control rather quickly, vs letting a health problem remain undiagnosed for some time.

Make sure to discuss current medications with your doctor that may be countering diabetic control. Ask if you have questions!

*Sources Web MD, Patterson Vet, Merck Manual

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