Royal Canin Glycobalance vs Diabetic: Pros & Cons of Both

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Veterinarians treat canine diabetes with a combination of medication, a healthy diet, and exercise. Vets recommend diets with a low-glycemic index, as they’re less likely to raise a dog’s blood sugar levels. In this guide, we’re going to examine the pros and cons of two dog foods made explicitly for diabetic dogs: Royal Canin Glycobalance and Royal Canin Diabetic.

Royal Canin Glycobalance and Royal Canin Diabetic are two high-protein, low-starch dog foods containing complex carbs and fiber. Both require a veterinary prescription and are pricier than other foods. Some ingredients are questionable, and Royal Canin Diabetic has ingredients that differ by country.

Most kibble is carbohydrate-based, so veterinarians recommend canned foods when choosing dog food for diabetic dogs. Royal Canin Glycobalance and Royal Canin Diabetic feature a wet and dry version, so we’ll look at both in this article. Read on to learn more about these two diabetic-friendly dog foods.

Similarities Between Royal Canin Glycobalance and Royal Canin Diabetic

A grain-inclusive dog food brand, Royal Canin was founded in 1968. Today, the corporate giant, Mars, Inc, owns the company. Their products include both retail and therapeutic lines, the latter only available with a veterinary prescription.

Royal Canin’s formulates its retail recipes for different ages, exercise levels, and sizes. Their therapeutic range includes diets for specific ailments, including diabetes.

Royal Canin Glycobalance and Royal Canin Diabetic are part of the therapeutic product line-up, specifically for dogs with diabetes. Both Royal Canin Glycobalance and Royal Canin Diabetic are available in kibble and canned versions.

Royal Canin Glycobalance (Dry) is available in the United States, while Royal Canin Diabetic (Dry) is available in Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe. These two dry dog food brands share identical ingredients in the United States and Canada — they’re very much the same kibble, marketed under different names in different countries.

However, the Australian version of Royal Canin Diabetic (Dry) contains more wheat gluten than the United States and Canadian versions.

Pork and chicken are the primary animal protein sources in Royal Canin Glycobalance (Wet) and Royal Canin Diabetic Special (Wet). While the dry versions of these brands are nearly identical, there are some slight variations between the wet dog foods.

Royal Canin Glycobalance Pros & Cons

Pros

Cons

Low-starch

Requires prescription

High-protein

Pricier than other brands

Both wet & dry options

Questionable ingredients

Balanced fiber

 

Complex carbohydrates

 

Royal Canin Glycobalance is a dog food formulated for diabetic dogs. “Glyco” means related to or producing sugar. By definition, Glycobalance is dog food used to help regulate blood sugar.

The wet and dry versions of Royal Canin Glycobalance contain high protein levels, ideal for muscle mass, and they have less starch than other Royal Canin products.

While starch is the primary source of carbohydrates in most dog foods, veterinarians agree that dogs with diabetes benefit from low-carb, low-fat diets high in fiber.

You’ll find complex carbohydrates in both the wet and dry versions of Glycobalance. These are carbohydrates that take longer to break down into sugars because they contain higher amounts of fiber. Essentially, they slow down digestion and the elevation of blood sugar.

 

One drawback to Royal Canin Glycobalance is that it’s available by prescription only and tends to be pricier than similar therapeutic brands. Additionally, Royal Canin uses a lot of controversial ingredients in these dog foods, including animal by-products.

By-products are concerning because the description is so vague. Some by-products are edible and considered quality ingredients, but it’s hard to tell without additional information.

Giblets, for example, are animal by-products. They need to be refrigerated when intended for human consumption but may be used in dog feed even when left out for 24 hours. Animal by-products may fill a dog’s stomach but may not be good for its health.

We’ll discuss the ingredients in more detail throughout this guide.

Royal Canin Glycobalance Dry

Pros

Cons

Low-starch

Pricier

High-protein

Questionable ingredients

Balanced fiber

Contains grains

Complex carbohydrates

 

Contains omega fatty acids

 

Contains antioxidants

 

Glycobalance (Dry) is available in 7.7 lb (3.5 kg) and 17.6 lb (8 kg) bags. A 17.6 lb (8 kg) bag of Royal Canin Glycobalance Dry Dog Food costs somewhere around $72 (€59). That makes Glycobalance pricier than similar brands of the same weight.

Fortunately, Glycobalance Dry Dog Food contains low-starch and balanced fiber, beneficial to dogs with diabetes. In addition, complex carbohydrates break down slower and are less likely to cause a quick spike in blood sugar levels.

Royal Canin Glycobalance contains healthy omega fatty acids, which contribute to proper brain and eye development and help with cognitive function in older canines. Antioxidants also make an appearance in this recipe.

Key Ingredients

  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Barley
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Wheat gluten
  • Dried plain beet pulp
  • Tapioca
  • Chicken fat
  • Natural flavors
  • Fish oil
  • Psyllium seed husk
  • Potassium chloride
  • Fructooligosaccharides
  • Salt
  • Choline chloride
  • Vitamins DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E)
  • L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C)
  • Biotin
  • D-calcium pantothenate
  • Vitamin A acetate
  • Niacin supplement
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6)
  • Thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin B12 supplement
  • Riboflavin supplement
  • Vitamin D3 supplement
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Taurine
  • Trace minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc oxide)
  • Manganese proteinate
  • Ferrous sulfate
  • Manganous oxide
  • Copper sulfate
  • Calcium iodate
  • Sodium selenite
  • Copper proteinate
  • Marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.)
  • L-carnitine
  • Rosemary extract preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid

Nutrition

  • Protein: 35%
  • Fat: 14%
  • Fiber: 10%
  • Moisture: 10%

Questionable Ingredients

Unfortunately, Royal Canin Glycobalance Dry Dog Food contains some questionable ingredients, including:

  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Wheat gluten

Let’s look at some of these ingredients a little more in-depth:

  • Chicken by-product meal – is considered an inferior ingredient. After the “good cuts” are removed, by-products are what’s leftover. Chicken by-products may include giblets, bones, organs, beaks, feet, and other unused parts. Chicken, chicken fat, and chicken meal are considered better sources of animal protein than by-products. Unfortunately, many low-quality dog foods contain animal by-products.
  • Corn gluten meal is a corn-derived product – a study done by BMC Veterinary Research showed that diabetic dogs on maize-based diets had higher cholesterol than dogs that received their starch from pea and barley-based diets. This indicates that corn as a starch source may harm a diabetic dog’s health.
  • Wheat gluten – raises the protein level on the dog food, making the dog food appear healthier than it is. Glutens aren’t as nutritious for dogs as animal-based proteins. To make matters worse, wheat gluten can also produce symptoms of food allergies in canines.

Royal Canin Glycobalance Wet

Pros

Cons

Low-starch

Requires a prescription

High-protein

Contains animal by-products

Balanced fiber

Contains grains

Complex carbohydrates

Pricier than other brands

Easily digestible

 

Fewer carbohydrates than Kibble

 

Contains omega fatty acids

 

Glycobalance Loaf in Sauce comes in a 13.4 oz (380 g) can. The canned version costs around $88 (€72) for a 24-pack of 13.4 oz (380 g) cans. Compared to other canned dog foods, Glycobalance Loaf in Sauce is relatively pricey.

As with all Royal Canin’s therapeutic products, this dog food requires a prescription from a veterinarian. And like Glycobalance Dry, Royal Canin Glycobalance Loaf in Sauce is a low-starch, high-protein food.

The ingredients include:

  • Complex carbohydrates
  • A moderate fat content
  • Balanced fiber to help regulate blood sugar levels in diabetic canines

Because it’s a wet dog food option, it may be more appetizing to finicky pets and is more easily digestible, thanks to its high moisture content.

Key Ingredients

  • Water sufficient for processing
  • Pork by-products
  • Chicken
  • Pork liver
  • Chicken by-products
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Cornmeal
  • Wheat gluten
  • Carrageenan
  • Pork plasma
  • Carob bean gum
  • Guar gum
  • Dried plain beet pulp
  • Fish oil
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Taurine
  • Vitamins L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C)
  • DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E)
  • Thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1)
  • Biotin
  • Niacin supplement
  • D-calcium pantothenate
  • Riboflavin supplement
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6)
  • Vitamin B12 supplement
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin D3 supplement
  • Potassium chloride
  • Citric acid
  • L-carnitine
  • Trace minerals (zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, zinc proteinate, copper sulfate, manganous oxide, sodium selenite, calcium iodate)
  • Marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.)

Nutrition

  • Protein: 7.5%
  • Fat: 2.5%
  • Fiber: 3.5%
  • Moisture: 82%

Questionable Ingredients

The Glycobalance Loaf in Sauce formula contains several controversial ingredients, which we’ll discuss more below:

  • Pork by-products and chicken by-products – aren’t quality ingredients, as mentioned earlier when we discussed Royal Canin Glycobalance Dry Dog Food. By-products come from the leftover parts of animals and aren’t as nutritious as they could be.
  • Powdered cellulose – is a controversial ingredient, as it’s a non-digestible plant fiber. This ingredient offers the feeling of fullness but doesn’t provide any nutritional value, aside from fiber.
  • Cornmeal – has a high glycemic index (69). The higher a food’s glycemic index, the higher the risk for a blood sugar spike, which can be dangerous for dogs with diabetes. For comparison, barley has a glycemic index of 25. Cornmeal is a questionable ingredient, especially considering it’s for dogs with trouble controlling blood sugar.

Fortunately, Royal Canin Glycobalance Loaf in Sauce includes complex carbohydrates, omega fatty acids, and fewer carbohydrates than kibble.

Royal Canin Diabetic Pros and Cons

Pros

Cons

Low-starch

Requires prescription

High-protein

Pricier than other brands

Both wet & dry options

Questionable ingredients

Balanced fiber

Ingredients differ by country

Complex carbohydrates

 

Royal Canin Diabetic is available in both a wet and dry version. These recipes are specifically formulated for dogs suffering from diabetes, though this food line is pricier than similar brands.

To help regulate blood sugar levels, the Royal Canin Diabetic line contains less starch than its retail products. It’s also high in protein, and the balanced fiber and lower fat levels are ideal for diabetic canines.

The dry version of Royal Canin Diabetic is only available in Europe, Australia, and Canada.

The ingredients in the kibble differ very slightly by country, with these ingredient differences being slightly problematic. Because this therapeutic line is available from third-party sellers (with a veterinary prescription), the sellers may be selling different versions of the same food.

So, pet owners must look closely at the ingredients before making a purchase.

It’s interesting to note that the dry formula available in Canada has an identical ingredients list to Royal Canin Glycobalance Dry Dog Food. They’re essentially the same food, marketed under different names in different regions.

However, the nutrition content seems to vary slightly. Many third-party dog food retailers state that “Royal Canin Diabetic is now Royal Canin Glycobalance” (relating to dry kibble, specifically).

Royal Canin Diabetic Dry

Pros

Cons

Low-starch

Differing ingredients by country

High-protein

Pricier

Balanced fiber

Questionable ingredients

Complex carbohydrates

Contains grains

Diabetic dry is available in 7.7 lb (3.5 kg) and 17.6 lb (8 kg) bags. The larger bag costs somewhere around $77 (€63), making it a relatively pricey dog food.

It’s available in Canada, Australia, and parts of Europe. In the United States, Royal Canin Diabetic (Dry) is marketed under Royal Canin Glycobalance (Dry).

As with the Glycobalance Dry Dog Food, Royal Canin Diabetic is a reduced starch formula high in fiber and protein. Again, complex carbohydrates are slower to digest, reducing the risk of a dangerous blood sugar level increase.

Also, this formula contains omega fatty acids from both chicken fat and fish oil.

Now, since there are some slight ingredient variations, we’re going to look at Canada and Australia’s ingredients and nutrition content.

Key Ingredients (Canada)

Note: This ingredient list is identical to Royal Canin Glycobalance (Dry). However, the fat content appears to be lower.

  • Chicken by-product meal
  • Barley
  • Corn gluten meal
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Wheat gluten
  • Dried plain beet pulp
  • Tapioca
  • Chicken fat
  • Natural flavors
  • Fish oil
  • Psyllium seed husk
  • Potassium chloride
  • Fructooligosaccharides
  • Salt
  • Choline chloride
  • Vitamins DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E)
  • L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C)
  • Biotin
  • D-calcium pantothenate
  • Vitamin A acetate
  • Niacin supplement
  • Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6)
  • Thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1)
  • Vitamin B12 supplement
  • Riboflavin supplement
  • Vitamin D3 supplement
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Taurine
  • Trace minerals (zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, manganese proteinate, ferrous sulfate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate)
  • Marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.)
  • L-carnitine
  • Rosemary extract preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid

Nutrition (Canada)

  • Protein: 35%
  • Fat: 10%
  • Fiber: 10%
  • Moisture: 10%

Key Ingredients (Australia)

  • Dehydrated poultry protein
  • Barley
  • Wheat gluten
  • Maize gluten
  • Vegetable fibers
  • Hydrolyzed animal proteins
  • Animal fats
  • Beet pulp
  • Tapioca
  • Fish oil
  • Psyllium husks and seeds
  • Fructo-oligosaccharides
  • Minerals
  • Marigold extract (source of lutein)

Nutritional Additives (per Kg)

  • Vitamin A: 15500 IU
  • Vitamin D3: 1000 IU
  • E1 (Iron): 33 mg
  • E2 (Iodine): 3.4 mg
  • E4 (Copper): 10 mg
  • E5 (Manganese): 43 mg
  • E6 (Zinc): 125 mg
  • E8 (Selenium): 0.05 mg – Preservatives – Antioxidants

Nutrition (Australia)

  • Protein: 37%
  • Fat: 12%
  • Fiber: 6.5%
  • Moisture: 10%

Questionable Ingredients

Royal Canin Diabetic uses controversial ingredients in its formula. For example, chicken by-products aren’t a quality additive in dog food. While this ingredient does add protein, by-products are also found in many low-quality foods because they’re cheap. There are better sources of animal protein than by-products, which is a significant downside.

Corn gluten meal isn’t considered a “good” starch. Compared to other starches like peas, barley, and even oatmeal, corn is certainly inferior. It could cause high cholesterol levels in dogs. In addition, corn has a higher glycemic index than other grains, meaning it increases the risk of blood sugar spikes. Again, there are better grains available for dogs with diabetes.

Finally, wheat gluten is a source of plant protein that may boost the protein content of the food. This is a tactic that some dog food manufacturers use to make the food appear healthier to pet owners. Animal-based proteins are almost always recommended over plant-based proteins for canine diets.

Royal Canin Diabetic Special Wet

Pros

Cons

Low-starch

Requires a prescription

High-protein

Contains animal by-products

Balanced fiber

Contains grains

Complex carbohydrates

Pricier than other brands

Easily digestible

 

Less carbohydrates than Kibble

 

Contains omega fatty acids

 

Royal Canin Diabetic Special Wet is available in the United Kingdom, other parts of Europe, and Australia. It comes in a 14 oz (410 g) can. A pack of 12 cans costs about $51 (€42) and is only available with a veterinary prescription. As always, similar brands tend to cost less than Royal Canin Diabetic Special.

And as expected, the recipe is formulated specifically for dogs with diabetes mellitus.

The high-protein levels help maintain muscle mass, which is essential in diabetic canines, and the low level of starch and high fiber aids in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.

Key Ingredients

  • Pork by-products
  • Poultry by-products
  • Chicken meat
  • Powdered cellulose
  • Maize grits
  • Pork blood products
  • Sunflower oil
  • Beet pulp
  • Minerals
  • Marigold extract (source of lutein)
  • Vitamin D3: 180 IU
  • Iron (3b103): 3 mg
  • Iodine (3b201, 3b202): 0.3 mg
  • Copper (3b405, 3b406): 2 mg
  • Manganese (3b502, 3b504): 1 mg
  • Zinc (3b603, 3b605, 3b606): 10 mg

Nutrition

  • Protein: 9%
  • Fiber: 2.4%
  • Fats: 4%
  • Moisture: 79%

Questionable Ingredients

Again, we see animal by-products in this recipe. As mentioned previously in this guide, animal by-products aren’t considered quality ingredients. There are better sources for animal protein, but since by-products tend to be less expensive, many dog food brands use them in place of better cuts of meat.

The fourth ingredient is powdered cellulose, which may create a full sensation, but it isn’t nutritionally valuable to a dog.

Corn is listed as the fifth ingredient in Royal Canin Diabetic Special (Wet). Unfortunately, corn has a high glycemic index, so the addition of maize grits seems unnecessary, considering that this is dog food for diabetic canines.

Sunflower oil is a source of linoleic acid and may help maintain a shiny, healthy coat in dogs. Marigold extract has many proven benefits for canines and is considered a nutritional additive.

A Word About Canine Diabetes

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the amount of sugar in a dog’s blood. When a dog has diabetes, its body cannot produce enough insulin, stops making it altogether, or has an abnormal response to it.

While there is no cure for canine diabetes, you can manage it with a healthy diet, exercise, and medication. The disorder is most common in older dogs, but it may be genetic and passed on to puppies as well.

There are two types of diabetes in canines, including insulin deficiency and insulin resistance — dogs with insulin deficiency don’t produce enough insulin due to a damaged pancreas.

They’ll need regular insulin shots to replace the insulin they’re unable to produce. Insulin resistance diabetes occurs more commonly in older, overweight dogs, occurring when the body isn’t using insulin as it should.

Conclusion

Both Royal Canin Glycobalance and Royal Canin Diabetic are for dogs with abnormalities in their blood glucose levels. The dry versions are nearly identical, whereas the wet versions contain some slight variations.

Because Royal Canin Diabetic Special (Wet) contains fewer ingredients than Glycobalance (Wet), it’s a better choice, especially for dogs with food sensitivity issues. In addition, veterinarians recommend wet dog food over dry dog food for diabetic canines.

Sources

Andrew

My name is Andrew, and I've been around dogs my entire life. Look at my profile picture and, you see me as a little kid with my family's two German Shepherds. That's how my life with dogs started, and ever since, I've been both living and working with dogs.

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