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5 Best Dog Foods for Diabetic Dogs RANKED for Dog Owners!

As dog owners, we’re aware that our furry friends tend to suffer from many of the same problems and ailments that we do.

One of the most common conditions that can also trigger serious consequences is canine diabetes. Diabetes in dogs has no cure. However, it’s treatable even as a lifelong condition. Part of managing and treating this condition is feeding your pup the right food. 

We decided to test diabetic dog food that will help stabilize blood sugar and help our favorite pals live a longer, healthier life. We tested 9 foods and narrowed it down to our top 5 picks plus 2 honorable mentions. 

For more on diabetes in dogs, our guide to canine diabetes provides everything you need to know to understand the condition.

Our Top Picks

  Product Details    
01 - Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Best Overall: Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is our favorite for diabetic dogs. This food is made with real protein sources and is suitable for all breeds. The tails were wagging when we served this up. Check Price
02 - Orijen Dry Dog Food Best for Raw Ingredients: Orijen Dry Dog Food  This food was a close second. It also has a great formula and is great for dogs of all breeds and all ages. However, it’s slightly more expensive, and our pup wolfed it down. Check Price
03 - Acana Grain-Free Dry Dog Food Best for Grain-free Affordability: Acana Grain-Free Dry Dog Food  We appreciate that this grain-free food is more affordable. It’s made with ingredients ideal for a dog’s metabolism and digestion, and our dog thinks it’s delicious. Check Price
04 - Nulo Adult Dog Food Best for Low-fat Protein: Nulo Adult Dog Food  Our dog loves the flavor of this grain-free formula that features low-fat protein sources. Some dogs have a little trouble digesting this formula, but our dog digested it fine after switching over slowly. Check Price
05 - Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dry Dog Food Best Specialty Formula: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dry Dog Food The dog that tested this food liked it but had to have a prescription to get it. So we didn’t test this personally on our dog, but it got rave reviews from our pal. We like that it’s specially formulated for diabetic dogs. Check Price

How We Chose the 5 Best Dog Foods for Diabetic Dogs

Dog eating dog food
Choosing the right food for your diabetic dog could mean a world of difference for their health.

To find the best foods, we first did extensive research into the most reputable brands of food that were specifically formulated with diabetic dogs in mind, like Merrick, which is known for using only the best whole foods and high-quality ingredients.

We even looked into prescription diets such as Royal Canin, which is highly regarded by vets and customizable to your dog’s needs.

Real dog opinions are essential, so we searched for food brands with the best dog and owner reviews and researched the specifics for dozens of dog foods to see which ones showed the best results. 

Finally, we tested the best ones and narrowed down the best dog foods to our top 5 picks. There were several other good options to choose from, so we included an honorable mentions section for foods that didn’t rank at the top.

READ MORE: Why Dog Won’t Eat Dog Food – Picky Eater or Serious Problem? We detail the reasons behind decreased appetites, what you can do about it, and how serious the issue is.

Best Dog Foods For Diabetic Dogs

1. Best Overall: Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food 

01 - Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Product Rating

Affordability4.5/5
Quality5/5
Formula5/5

Type: Dry formula with sweet potato | Design: Adult dogs | First 3 ingredients: Deboned beef, lamb meal, salmon meal | Best for: All breeds with diabetes | Price: $$

What We Liked

• High protein content
• Low-carb, so it’s ideal for dogs with insulin resistance
• Helps promote hip and joint health
• Grain-free formula without animal by-products
• Mid-priced option for affordability

What We Didn’t Like

• Contains some plant-based protein sources which aren’t ideal for dogs
• Hard to find outside of specialty pet stores
• Relatively high salt content

Ingredients

We loved that Merrick only uses the highest quality ingredients and serves up whole foods that your dog will enjoy eating. As a bonus, it’s on the more affordable end of high-quality dog food making it our number one overall pick.

Merrick serves up a highly effective dry dog food that’s a smart choice for diabetic dogs. How does this formula stack up?

Formula

It’s loaded with 65% protein, and we found this food will provide ample energy, which is crucial since this is a low-carb formula ideal for dogs with diabetes. This protein comes from deboned beef as the primary ingredient.

We love that this formula is grain-free and packed with just the right amount of good fats for your pup’s optimum health. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help the skin and coat.

There are no poultry and no poultry by-products in this formula, and it’s also grain-free which we found important for dogs with allergies or diabetes. Still not sure how to manage canine diabetes? This article discusses the best diet for dogs with diabetes.

We also value that the chondroitin and glucosamine in this formula can promote hip and joint health in dogs. It’s made from real whole foods and packed with fiber, so this dry dog food is a nutritional powerhouse that won’t spike blood sugar.

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2. Best for Raw Ingredients: Orijen Dry Dog Food 

02 - Orijen Dry Dog Food

Product Rating

Affordability4/5
Quality5/5
Formula5/5

Type: Dry formula with fresh regional ingredients | Design: All life stages | First 3 ingredients: Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, flounder | Best for: All breeds with diabetes | Price: $$$

What We Liked

• Highly reputable brand with many positive reviews
• Uses best sources for protein content
• Raw ingredients with peak nutritional content

What We Didn’t Like

  • Expensive
  • Hard to find outside of specialty pet stores

Ingredients

Based on our research, Orijen is a highly reputable brand known for producing biologically-appropriate foods ideal for a range of applications. This formula is derived from chicken, turkey, and wild-caught fish, and our dog loves these flavors.

We know the first 3 ingredients in your pup’s food are super important, so we love that all of these ingredients will provide lots of protein to promote lean muscle growth without piling on fat.

The food is made from real animal ingredients, so you’ll be giving your dog a taste of the wild. These include meat, cartilage, and bone pulped down into lip-smacking dry dog food. Your dog won’t know it’s on a diet.

Formula

One of the key points we found great about this brand is that formula is made using raw ingredients with all the nutrients intact. This is ideal for all life stages and breeds, and this food was well worth trying out if you need to switch up your dog’s food because of canine diabetes.

When you’re transitioning your dog to this food, the manufacturer recommends doing so gradually over a two-week period. Start by introducing 25% Orijen with 75% of his old food, then gradually change the ratio to include more Orijen over the following 14 days.

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3. Best for Grain-free Affordability: Acana Grain-Free Dry Dog Food 

03 - Acana Grain-Free Dry Dog Food

Product Rating

Affordability5/5
Quality4/5
Formula4/5

Type: Biologically-appropriate dry formula with fresh regional ingredients | Design: All life stages | First 3 ingredients: Deboned beef, deboned pork, deboned lamb | Best for: All breeds with diabetes | Price: $$

What We Liked

• Grain-free
• Made in the USA
• Fairly priced specialty food
• Only uses high-quality animal products

What We Didn’t Like

• Hard to find outside of specialty pet stores
• Pretty pricey, but that’s not a surprise

Ingredients

Next up in our quest for the best dog foods for diabetic dogs comes this grain-free formula from Acana. Why does this work well if your dog has diabetes? 

Firstly, you’ll be giving his overall health some powerful benefits with the ingredients of this food all derived from high-quality animal products. We found that it’s packed with nutrients and elevated levels of protein. 

The carb content of this formula is suitably low, making it good for dogs with diabetes. The all-natural ingredients shouldn’t cause any unwelcome spikes in blood sugar, giving you peace of mind for your dog’s health. 

Our dog wolfed this stuff down, giving us the confidence to recommend it as a delicious food as well. 

Formula

We’re big fans of the fact that there’s no grain in this stuff, and there’s no corn or gluten either. The food is made in the United States and all ingredients are biologically-appropriate.

If your dog is suffering from diabetes, you owe it to him to help out as much as possible when it comes to nutrition. By investing in some of this dry diabetic dog food from Acana, you’ll be taking a step in the right direction.

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4. Best for Omega Content: Nulo Adult Dog Food 

04 - Nulo Adult Dog Food

Product Rating

Affordability5/5
Quality4/5
Formula4/5

Type: Grain-free dry formula | Design: All life stages | First 3 ingredients: Deboned salmon, turkey meal, fish meal | Best for: All breeds with diabetes | Price: $$

What We Liked

• Ideal for dog’s that need to lose weight
• No cheap fillers used
• High protein, low-fat
• First ingredient is real salmon

What We Didn’t Like

• Expensive
• Some claim it’s hard on digestion

Ingredients

We found that Nulo delivers in perfect style if you need to give your diabetic dog some extra nutritional help. What do you get for your money, then?

We love that the formula contains all-natural ingredients, so your pup’s weight should stay in check, as well as his glucose levels. Grains frequently trigger allergies in dogs, so it’s important that there is no corn, wheat, soy, gluten, cheap fillers, or bulking agents.

Formula

Nulo is formulated to be high in lean protein and low in fat — the optimum combo for diabetic dogs. Designed with the needs of adult breeds of all dogs in mind, you’ll be doing your part to keep your dog strong and healthy while living with diabetes.

We chose this brand because the protein comes from real salmon as the first ingredient. Our lucky test dog adored the flavor, and your dog will benefit from getting the fatty acids he needs for immune system support, a healthy coat, and comfortable skin.

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5. Best Specialty Formula: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dry Dog Food 

05 - Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Dry Dog Food

Product Rating

Affordability4/5
Quality4/5
Formula4/5

Type: Glycobalance formula | Design: All life stages | First 3 ingredients: Chicken by-product meal, barley, corn gluten meal | Best for: All breeds with diabetes and weight problems | Price: $$$

What We Liked

• Glycobalance formula is specialized for diabetic dogs
• Antioxidants for a strong immune system
• Comes in a variety of bag sizes
• High protein, low carb content

What We Didn’t Like

• You’ll need a pet prescription to purchase food
• Brand doesn’t offer a grain-free version

Ingredients

Royal Canin is a highly reputable brand, so how does this dry dog food from their Veterinary Diet line compare? Firstly, this is a dedicated Glycobalance formula designed to support dogs with diabetes, so you’ll be getting a specialized solution from a company you can trust.

We like that the food is loaded with protein while maintaining a reduced level of starch. This will help your dog pack on some lean muscle without straying into obesity. Our lucky test dog for this formula gave it a tail-wagging positive review for flavor.

Formula

The formula is packed with antioxidants ideal for strengthening your dog’s immune system. You will need a pet prescription for this food, but this can be uploaded and verified at the time of purchase, so don’t let this put you off.

While making general modifications to your diabetic dog’s diet can pay dividends, buying dedicated diabetic food gives you an even stronger chance of successfully managing your pup’s condition.

When transitioning your pet to any new food, mix a small amount of new food with old food. Use two weeks to slowly introduce more and more of his new food until he’s fully transitioned.

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Comparison Chart

ProductsMerrickOrijenAcanaNuloRoyal Canin
Overall Rating4.8/54.6/54.3/54.3/54/5
Affordability4.5/54/55/55/54/5
Quality5/55/54/54/54/5
Formula5/55/54/54/54/5

The Winner

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the Merrick Grain-Free Dry Dog Food was our top pick. It featured real protein bits and was an excellent choice for dogs of all sizes and ages. Plus, all of our dogs loved it!

Read our related article on the Best High Fiber Dog Foods for Healthy Digestion where we feature another great option for diabetic dogs!

How to Choose Which Brand is Right for Your Dog

Consider Your Dogs Needs

Each dog has its own unique set of needs based on activity level and personality. With the help of your vet, it’s best to determine how much protein and carb/fat levels will help your diabetic dog feel its best and then compare that with the contents of each food.

There isn’t a replacement for veterinary care when managing canine diabetes. Your vet can give personalized food recommendations that will help your dog thrive while managing diabetes.

What’s Your Budget?

We’re all on our own budgets, so considering how much you can spend and what’s a reasonable price for your budget is key. Consistency is best when it comes to your pup’s diet, so it’s best to choose the food you can afford long-term.

What’s Your Dog’s Flavor Preference?

Each pup has a unique palate, and some are pickier than others. Before purchasing diabetic dog food, consider flavors you know your pup likes and will eat. There isn’t much point in buying diabetic dog food that you know your dog won’t like.

Honorable Mentions

Here are two options we considered but ultimately didn’t make our list.

1.  Nutrisca Grain-Free Dry Dog Food 

Nutrisca uses high protein sources such as chicken and chicken meal, but ultimately the formula contained too much plant protein, and the ingredients were not as well-sourced.

While the Merrick grain-free dog food also uses some plant sources for protein, ultimately, it has a higher-quality formula for a better price point, making it our top choice with the bonus of better affordability.

2. Ketona Dry Dog Food 

We liked that Ketona dog food works well for diabetic dogs because of its low carb and high protein content. However, this brand had quite a few negative reviews about it making their dogs lethargic, so we had to recommend Nulo dog food over its competitor.

Both brands are similar, but we want only to recommend the best dog foods for diabetic dogs that we believe are the healthiest and best for your dog.

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Jesse Hopping, CCDT

Jesse is a natural-born dog-lover certified dog trainer (CCDT), dog foster, and former volunteer at Richmond SPCA and surrounding dog shelters for over 10 years. Her pack includes a Bernedoodle and 3 Boston Terriers. She’s sipping caramel coffee and watching her pack play in the sun when she’s not writing blogs. Jesse has her Certified Dog Trainer designation from CATCH Canine Trainers Academy since 2018 and and majored in English from the University of Virginia.

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