What is the best dog food for diabetes?

Written by Dr Andrew Miller MRCVSDr Andrew Miller MRCVS is an expert veterinary working in the field for over 10 years after graduating from Bristol University. Andy fact checks and writes for Pure Pet Food while also working as a full time veterinarian. Pure Pet FoodPure Pet Food are the experts in healthy dog food and healthy dogs featured in media outlets such as BBC, Good Housekeeping and The Telegraph. Working with high profile veterinary professionals and nutritionists, Pure Pet Food are changing dog food for the better. - Our editorial process

A diabetes diagnosis is a worrying prospect for any pet parent, but be reassured that most diabetic dogs actually live long, happy and healthy lives despite their condition. Although it’s a lifelong ailment, with the combination of proper medical care and a high-quality, natural dog food perfect for dogs with diabetes, your pooch can thrive.

Diet can be a huge contributing factor towards how well your dog manages diabetes, actually being a significant part of your dog’s treatment plan, alongside their medication. Therefore, it’s essential that you get your diabetic dog’s dinners correct.

Read on to find out what the best dog food is for diabetes, what you should be looking for on those ingredient lists and how food can help manage the condition.

How can my dog's food help manage diabetes?

To explain how your dog’s food can help to manage diabetes, a quick explanation of how diabetes occurs is necessary.

So, diabetes can be split into two forms, type I diabetes and type II diabetes, both of which are caused by some type of irregular functioning of the pancreas. When we eat food (diabetes occurs pretty much the same way for both people and pooches), the food breaks down into several components, one of which being sugar (glucose). A healthy pancreas would consequently release insulin in reaction to the glucose, which is a hormone used to help the body manage glucose levels.

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So, a suitable dog food can help your dog’s condition by keeping the pancreas healthy, avoid putting any unnecessary strain on the pancreas and work to control blood sugar levels through the right combination of ingredients.

What is the best diabetic dog food?

It's agreed that a diabetic dog should be eating a diet that’s low in fat and high in fibre. Studies have shown that obesity and diets overly laden with fat can be contributors to the condition, so you need to keep your dog’s diet low in fat to keep them slim and trim.

High fibre foods are also recommended as they slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream, and also help your dog feel fuller for longer. This again helps keep your dog’s weight healthy as it’ll stop them overeating.

Keep the carbs complex

Carbohydrates are a valuable ingredient to include in your dog’s diet, but there’s a few things you should consider when looking at your dog’s carb intake, especially for a dog with diabetes.

When choosing your dog’s food, you need to make sure that carbohydrates aren’t at the very start of the ingredient list, you ideally need protein to be the first ingredient, and carbs to occur a little later down the line. Whatever ingredient appears first on the label is the ingredient included of the highest volume, and you definitely don’t want carbs to be number one.

Carbs need to be provided at a reasonable amount, and perhaps more importantly, they need to be a specific type of carb. The long and short of it is that some carbs are better than others.

Carbohydrates are categorised into simple carbs and complex carbs, and for your diabetic dog, the carbs should always be complex. Simple carbs are packed full of sugar and your dog’s body will process them super quick after consumption, which can lead to glucose levels spiking to dangerous highs. Typically, they can be found in things like white bread, soy, corn and pasta.

Unfortunately, many mainstream dry dog foods that you’d find in the supermarket are packed with simple carbs as they work as cheap fillers to bulk out the food, however they’re poor quality, highly-processed and really don’t provide your dog the energy they need for all the running around, playing fetch and mischievousness they get up to on the daily.

On the other hand, complex carbs are filled with loads of the essential nutrients that your dog requires, and your dog’s body will process them at a much slower rate, allowing the energy to be released over a much longer period of time.

Complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, oats, legumes and sweet potatoes are super high in fibre and take a lot longer to break down into sugars, which helps to stop crazy blood sugar spikes. These types of food are all said to have a low glycemic index, which is a scale that ranks food in terms of how much they cause blood sugar levels to rise, so for a diabetic dog you’re always looking for foods that have a low glycemic index.

Here at Pure, we create complete and balanced recipes for diabetes that are filled with complex carbs such as fruit, veggies and brown rice to stimulate a slow release of energy and manage their condition. Also, if your dog is sensitive to grains such as brown rice, just let us know before ordering your food and we’ll create grain-free recipes (that are still filled with fibre and complex carbs) perfect for your diabetic dog.

Real, natural and nutritious

To make sure you’re feeding your dog a great meal that supports their condition, you need to actually know what’s in the food! This can often be hindered by sketchy, vague ingredient lists and odd terminology on the back of dog food packets, so look out for foods with real ingredients that you recognise.

Let’s start with the protein source. As we know, we want this to be the first ingredient labelled on your dog’s food, but it also needs to be proper meat. Avoid anything labelled ‘animal derivatives’, as this is typically the nasty bits and pieces deemed unfit for human consumption. Instead, look for labels that state their protein source outright, such as ‘chicken’, ‘beef’, or ‘salmon’, these will be real meat rather than low-quality derivatives.

Also, many dog foods are laden with artificial colours, additives and flavourings, essentially to make them look and smell more appealing to your pooch and prolong their shelf life. However, these can be super sugary, triggering your dog’s blood sugar levels to spike and wreaking havoc with their condition.

Wholesome, natural ingredients are what you need to be looking for when choosing your dog’s food, so you can avoid any hidden nasties that might have a detrimental impact to your dog’s blood sugar levels. At Pure, we keep our ingredient lists clean and simple, so you know exactly what your dog is eating every day. Ingredients you recognise such as real meat, fruit and veggies such as apples, carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes, our recipes will be perfect for your dog.

Tell us about your dog’s health condition, along with their age, weight, breed and allergies, and we’ll create the best diabetic dog food right here in the UK to help manage your dog’s condition. Nothing weird, just good, honest ingredients.

Portioned to perfection

As we know, diabetes can be worsened when your dog is carrying a bit of extra weight, meaning that a low-fat diet is vital. We create low-fat dog food here at Pure, designed especially for diabetic dogs, helping them to thrive, stay slim and enjoy life.

Not only is the type of food that your dog is eating crucial, but the volume of food they eat is incredibly important too. Keeping your dog’s portions perfect will help decrease the chances of excess glucose and blood sugar spikes, alongside helping to shed the stones and keep your pup at a healthy weight.

Luckily, with a tailored dog food like Pure, your dog’s portions are specified to meet their needs down to a tee. After telling us all your dog’s details, we create a recipe plan to suit your dog, and we’ll work with you to monitor and ensure that their weight is as it should be.

The high-quality, high fibre content of our Pure diabetic dog food recipes ensure that your dog also feels fuller for longer. So, combining this with the low-fat content, perfect portion sizes and regular exercise, your dog can lose weight and enjoy life.

One really important thing to note when feeding your diabetic dog, is to never ever give your diabetic dog table scraps. No matter how much they beg, keep your dinners to yourself, unless it’s something like a little veggie that you know is super healthy and definitely safe for dogs. The food we eat can sometimes be too much for those sensitive tums, and you could unintentionally cause major problems with their medical condition.

Consistency is key

Making sure mealtimes are consistent is absolutely fundamental to managing your dog’s diabetes. Keeping your dog’s food the same, offering it at the exact same times each day alongside giving them their insulin injections at the same time will help to regulate your dog’s blood sugar levels.

Typically, dogs do well on a routine of having 2-3 smaller meals a day, with their insulin injections usually being given about an hour after their food. Of course, discuss their injection timings and quantities with your vet. Being consistent is probably one of the most important parts of managing diabetes.

Treats aren't totally off the table!

Tell your pooch they don’t need to bring out the sad puppy dog eyes, thankfully they can still eat treats!

It’s important not to forget about treats when it comes to feeding your diabetic dog, as they can often take up a large proportion of their usual daily calories. Super sugary, high-fat treats possess the danger of totally sabotaging all the hard work you’ve been putting in to giving your dog nutritious, low-fat meals at consistent times daily, causing your dog’s blood sugar levels to go into overdrive.

Go for low-fat, protein heavy treats, that don’t contain anything sugary such as honey, corn syrup and molasses (we make really tasty 100% chicken treats and 100% white fish treats that your dog will go crazy for).

You can even treat them to a tasty titbit of a piece of carrot, apple or cucumber, although us humans wouldn’t consider fruit and veg as much of a treat, our canine companions absolutely love them. Also, we recommend trying to give your dog these treats at similar times each day, keeping in line with your consistent feeding routine.

How to transition your dog onto new food

If you ever switch up your dog’s dinners, you need to make sure you transition them slowly. Don’t make a sudden change to their diet as this can cause much more harm than good. With Pure, we recommend taking the transition over a full week, slowly adding more Pure to their meals and gradually phasing out the old food until your dog has fully transitioned over.


All in all, when choosing the food for your diabetic dog, you need to be looking out for a food that’s low in fat, high in fibre and jam-packed with natural, wholesome ingredients to boost the immune system and nourish everything on the inside.

Pure is exactly what your dog is looking for, it’s healthy, features recipes that are low in fat and filled with fibre to help manage their condition. Although it might seem like something to stress about now, your dog can still live life to the max despite their condition with the proper treatment and good, proper food.

  1. Diabetes mellitus in dogs attending UK primary-care practices: frequency, risk factors and survival Canine Medicine and Genetics, 7, (6), June 2020, doi.org/10.1186/s40575-020-00087-7
  2. Nutritional management of diabetes mellitus in dogs Improve Veterinary Practice, March 2021