Home Cooking For My Diabetic Dog

Thanks to Sharleen for suggesting today’s topic!  Today we talk about home cooking vs. commercial food.In one of the first blog posts (What Do I Feed My Diabetic Dog), we talked about general guidelines for feeding your pup.  I have gotten a couple of questions about home cooking, so let’s talk about that.

It is by no means necessary to home cook for your pup!  There are many good quality commercial foods out there to feed your Diabetic Dog.  Time is always a factor when it comes to food preparation.  If you work outside your home or have a very busy family schedule, home cooking is likely not for you.  I know some people that prepare a week’s worth of food (commercial or home cooked) on a day off.  For commercial food, they weigh each ingredient and put each one in a Ziploc until needed.  For home cooked, the process is the same, just the ingredients are different.

If any of you are like me, when first diagnosed, you scoured the internet to see what recipes are out there for diabetic dogs.  There is one in particular that is a stew type meal with a ton of ingredients in it.  Let me steer you away from that right now.  We have spoken repeatedly about consistency being the biggest part of treating this disease properly.  Let me share an analogy that was shared in our group (Canine Diabetes Support and Information) by Eileen, one of our co-founders. She said something to the effect that if you put 50 blue beads, 50 red beads, 50 yellow beads, 50 orange beads and 50 purple beads in a giant bowl and mixed them up, now you scoop them out into portions…. You will never have an equal number of each color in each portion.  SO TRUE! So the protein to carb to vegetable mix will not be consistent and likely that will be reflected in your BG (Blood Glucose) numbers.

If you go back and have a look at the post titled “The Dance Between Food and Insulin”, you will remember how food and insulin work together.  It’s important to keep your meals consistent so they work well with your insulin day in and day out.  When figuring out a home cooked meal for our members, we use a formula of 65% of calories from protein, 35% of calories from a carb, a vegetable and a good multivitamin.  Unless your pup has kidney issues and needs less protein, this mix seems to work out quite well for most.  If you have a picky eater or are concerned that there is no variety, you can add different “toppers” to your meals if needed.  My go to was a sprinkle of Kraft Parmesan cheese or a bit of baby food and warm water that I made into gravy.  I haven’t seen a lot of cases where a pup needed toppers with home cooked meals, but, never say never!

The upside to home cooking is that you have complete control over what your pup is eating and know the quality of the ingredients in each meal.  You will notice if you decide to home cook, that it seems like a LOT of food.  That will give you some insight as to the amount of processing that goes into commercial foods.  The downside to home cooking is that it takes time to do it.  Not everyone has the time, the inclination or the budget to home cook for their pup, so there is no judgement here about not doing it.  I fed a very high quality commercial food to my boys, if I had it to do all over again, I think that I might have home cooked. Primarily due to all of the recent recalls on commercial foods as well as wanting to control the ingredients that they ate.  I work from home so the time to do it wasn’t a problem and because their food was so expensive, it likely would have worked out the same budget-wise.  There are some very good human grade foods on the market that are a great compromise if you want to cook, but can’t.  The Honest Kitchen makes two “Diabetic appropriate” flavors, Zeal which is fish based and Hope which is beef based.  Weruva canned food has some flavors that are also “Diabetic friendly”, Cirque de la Mer, Jammin’ Salmon, Bed and Breakfast and Grandma’s Chicken Soup.  I will always remember a story that a member told about dishing up one of the Weruva meals for her pup and leaving it on the counter.  Her husband thought it was for him, so he microwaved it and ate it (that’s how much it looks like human food).  She came back to the kitchen and asked where the food was, he said that it was pretty good, just needed a little seasoning.  She didn’t have the heart to tell him that what he ate was actually their dog’s dinner, not his!!!  She had a good laugh, as did we.

If home cooking is something that you choose to do, remember that a good multivitamin is a must when making your pup’s meals at home.  There are several good ones on the market.  Here are a few that we recommend: “My Pet Grocer” Chef’s Canine Complete, Dr. Peter Dobias’s Soul Food, Dr. Mercola’s Meal Mix, Nupro Gold.

I am a believer that all pups should be on a probiotic (humans too), this is just my personal belief.  For me it stands to reason that since our pups are now immunocompromised and most of the immune system is in the gut, then the healthier the gut, the healthier the pup!  There are many, many probiotics for pups in all price ranges.  You can also give an organic, fat free plain yogurt once a day as a probiotic as long as it has live cultures in it.  A side note here, if your pup is on antibiotics, you absolutely should be giving a probiotic 1 – 2 hours before or after you give the medication.  This will help restore the good bacteria in the gut that the antibiotic destroys.

Lastly, we have found that pups with GI (Gastrointestinal) issues do very well on a home cooked diet and I’ll cover that in an upcoming post.

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Until next time…