While canine diabetes tends to be a fairly common disease, the canine form of the disease is quite different than the human and feline form of the disease. Type 2 diabetes can occur in felines due to a diet that is concentrated with carbohydrates, and similarly, humans can develop Type 2 diabetes due to obesity. Canines, on the other hand, normally fall into the Type 1 diabetes category, which is contributed to genetic tendency, rather than diet-based. And while we think of Type 1 diabetes in dogs as “Juvenile Onset Diabetes,” this type of diabetes typically occurs in dogs at a more advanced age, often after age 10.
Type 1 Canine Diabetes
If your dog has the genetic make-up for Type 1 diabetes, regardless of their diet, they will end up with the disease. Furthermore, dogs that do develop Type 1 diabetes will require insulin for the rest of their life, because their pancreases are unable to create insulin normally. And, even if your dog has Type 1 diabetes, being obese or experiencing weight problems could be the culprit for fast onset of the disease. Therefore, diet will still be an important factor in keeping your diabetic dog as healthy as possible.
Recommended Diet – Soluble Fiber
Veterinarians typically recommend diet changes for canine diabetes. And quite frequently what humans are told to control their diabetes is almost the opposite of what we should do for our dogs. For humans, it is recommended to lower the intake of carbohydrates. For canines, it is often beneficial to increase dietary fiber, which is a complex carbohydrate, as well as feed them high quality diets. And, while high fiber diets for dogs normally contain insoluble fiber, soluble fiber (which helps to maintain better blood sugar control) is the recommended type for diabetic dogs.
A study was conducted by Nelson RW, Ihle SL, Lewis LD, Salisbury SK, Miller T, Bergdall V, and Bottoms GD and printed in the American Journal of Veterinary Research on the Effects of Dietary Fiber Supplementation on Glycemic Control in Dogs With Alloxan-Induced Diabetes Mellitus. It backs up our recommedations regarding high soluble fiber diet for the diabetic canine. Six dogs with alloxan-induced insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus were assessed in the study and showed to fair much better when fed the high soluble fiber diet.
Another study, however, concluded something a bit different. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association printed a study, the Effects of Insoluble Dietary Fiber on Glycemic Control in Dogs with Naturally Occurring Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus. This study concluded that dogs with diabetes mellitus should be fed a high insoluble fiber diet of dry food, which the researchers stated would aid in better glycemic control.
Everyone seems to agree that these dogs should be fed a high-fiber diet. But, it seems that the jury is still out on exactly which type of fiber should be fed to canines with Type 1 diabetes. It has been our experience in our practice that diabetic dogs tend to do slightly better when fed soluble fiber than when fed insoluble fiber. However, feeding ANY kind of fiber at all is much better than feeding low fiber diets. Undoubtedly, more studies will be conducted to find out how other diabetes stricken dogs respond to insoluble versus soluble fiber diets. In the meantime, a high fiber diet is still highly recommended for dogs with Type 1 diabetes.