Q&A: Feeding a canine diabetic

  • Expert advice from Baileys’ nutritionist on discouraging an elderly diabetic terrier

    Q: My 12- year-old Yorkshire Terrier has been diagnosed with diabetes, she is also onsteroids for a heart condition. What diet is best for her and what should I avoid?

    Liz Bulbrook replies: When feeding dogs with diabetes mellitus, the emphasis is placed upon the basic feeding strategy as well as consideration given to the type of diet.

    As your terrier will not be producing any of her own insulin then your vet will have arranged alternative insulin treatment for her.

    The key points to consider is to keep the meals small and regular, spaced out through the period of insulin activity to avoid large fluctuations in blood glucose.

    Often meals can be given 1-2 hours after the insulin, but this will differ according to the type and frequency of insulin treatment, check this with your vet.

    It is also important that energy expenditure is balanced with nutrient intake and insulin balance.

    Diabetic dogs do well with regular exercise of similar duration rather than spurts of high activity.

    With regard to diet then the dog should have similar calorie requirements to normal with the level adjusted according to bodyweight and activity level.

    Try to use a commercial dry dog food as these are fixed formula diets with consistent ingredients, calorie density and set feeding quantity guidelines.

    Diets that are high in complex carbohydrates (fibre) are thought to be beneficial, as these carbohydrates are digested relatively slowly.

    Feeding the dog a good maintenance diet ought to be adequate as these are usually higher in fibre and lower in fat at around 7-10% fat, 4% fibre and 18-20% protein.

    Avoid high fat and protein diets, such as performance diets, generally 26-28 % protein and 15-18% fat.

    Although you do not mention what type of heartcondition your terrier has this type of feeding usually follows for heart conditions.

    Do not give snacks, as these will disrupt the careful dietary balance established with the regular feed regime.

    Companies such as Hills and Pedigree produce specific diets for diabetic dogs; however whether you need these will be dependent upon how severe your dog’s diabetes is and how well it can be managed with a combination of dietary management in conjunction with insulin control.

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