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Diabetes mellitus is a trouble of the glucose metabolism, due to an insufficient secretion or an inefficient activity of the insulin hormone. One of the main roles of this hormone is to permit the right utilization of glucose by the cells. There are two main forms of diabetes:

  • insulino-dependent diabetes (IDD), characterized by an absolute insulin deficiency. Then, it is necessary to inject insulin every day to the dog. In this type of diabetes, the dog is often skinny, whereas he eats a lot ;
  • non insulino-dependent diabetes (NIDD): here, insulin is secreted, but it is worthless, because cells are resistant to its action. This type of diabetes is often associated to obesity: diabetes is 10 times more likely in obese dogs.

Diabetes is rarely reversible. The dietetic measures listed below aim at stabilizing the diabetic state, and ensuring a good quality of life to the dog.

Carbohydrates intake

In any case of diabetes, one must prohibit the "fast or simple sugars": any sweet treats are then forbidden. On the contrary, "slow or complex sugars" are welcome : when extruded or flaked, the starch of the cereals is slowly digested, which avoids the danger of a brutal rise of glucose in the blood after the meals. Starch can represent up to 40 - 50 % of the food without any problem.

Semi-moist food are strictly inadvisable because they often contain a great amount of simple sugars that play a role in the conservation of the product.

The diet of a diabetic dog can contain a rather important part of undigestible carbohydrates, or dietary fiber. They present the following advantages:

  • they slow down the emptying of the stomach and the digestion process of the starch,
  • they are in favour of a satiety feeling in always hungry dogs (IDD),
  • they limit the energetic intake, so they are in favour of the bodyweight control (NIDD).

Lipidic intake

Another consequence of insulin deficiency is to promote an abnormal accumulation of fatty acids in the blood (hyperlipaemia). Then, the fat level of the diet must not be too high. When the dog suffers from excessive bodyweight (NIDD), it will be even more strictly limited. According to the body condition, the fat level can be chosen between 6 et 12 % of the diet.

Proteic intake
Proteic intake must not be restricted in the diabetic dog. A too strict proteic limitation can worsen the muscular loss that goes with the general weight loss in most severe cases of diabetes.

Practical rythm of feeding
In a diabetic dog, the rythm of feeding has got as much importance as the composition of the food itself. The owner must respect a very regular schedule for the meals distribution.

Non insulino-dependant diabetes
To avoid hyperglycaemia peaks, the food intake will be spread over the whole day: 3 or 4 meals every 6 or 8 hours. Rationing must be strict: in case of obesity, the dog will receive only 60 up to 80 % of what he would receive if he had his normal bodyweight.

Insulino-dependent diabetes
Here, the rythm of the meals depends on the frequency of the insulin injections.

  • With a long-acting insulin, that requires only one injection per day, the daily intake will be shared in 2 parts : half of the daily food soon after the injection, the rest 10 - 12 hours after the injection.
  • With a prompt-acting insulin (1 injection every 12 h), half of the daily food will be distributed just after each injection.

Whether it is an insulino-dependent diabetes or not, the advisable diet is related to the body condition of the dog.


  • In case of obesity (more than 20 % of weight in excess), the veterinarian will prescribe Canistar S1.
  • With less than 20 % of weight in excess, the most advisable Royal Canin product is Premium Light.
  • For a diabetic dog with a normal bodyweight, we will advise one of the Adult 1 RCI Size products.

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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