Here I will compile a List of things I’ve learned while feeding keto to try and help others!
When to Take Glucose and Ketone readings?
- Do I have to measure the blood to feed a ketogenic diet? No, you don’t “Have to” but it is the only way to verify if the dog ever gets into ketosis. and without verify you are only guessing. Just because you are feeding your dog a ketogenic diet doesn’t guarantee your dog will be in ketosis. Glucose and ketone blood readings are the ONLY way to verify. And ketone urine strips are not a reliable way to do this. My dog Emie is the perfect example of why it’s so important to test the blood. When we first started keto we had to do numerous calorie reductions to the diet before we were finally able to get her in ketosis verified by glucose and ketone readings. Had we not done the blood testing we would have never known what was going on and what changes needed to be made to the diet. Take home message here– Just because you are feeding a ketogenic diet doesn’t guarantee your dog will be able to get into ketosis. We need to verify with proper glucose and ketone readings.
- It will generally take about a week depending on the dog to get into ketosis, if the dog is coming from a kibble fed diet it may take longer. if you already have your meter at the very beginning of the diet, you could take glucose readings just to see where the sugar level is, but it certainly is not a requirement before you start keto.
- I like to take 1 reading in the beginning of the week in the morning right after my dog wakes up, minimal movement etc. and before eating.
- Then I try and take the 2nd reading for the week towards the end of the week on Friday 2 hours after her 2nd meal. If you only feed 1x a day then just take the reading 2hours after that meal.
- And keep in mind that it is much easier for dogs to lower their blood glucose than it is for them to have measurable amounts of ketone levels. But just because dog’s have lower measurable amounts of ketones in the blood doesn’t mean they aren’t producing them! we can hypothesize that perhaps dogs are more efficient at utilizing the ketones vs. humans and perhaps that may explain why we may see lower plasma levels of ketones in the blood. But by the mere fact that while in ketosis the dog isn’t experiencing hypoglycemia proves that the ketones are in fact being produced.
so generally speaking we can expect to see lower measurable levels of glucose but plasma ketone readings will not be comparable to that of human ketone readings on a ketogenic diet. So my dog for example, doesn’t see very high ketone readings- .2-.3 is pretty standard for my dog and I’ve seen a random .4-.6 a few times. Her glucose is generally pretty low in the 30’s-40+ range.
More on Ketone Body Metabolism can be found on my page here
What Meter should I use?
The precision Xtra meter (shown in the picture above) is the meter that seems to work the best with dogs. Although it is intended for use in humans, it does the job for our dogs too. This is the same meter recommended by ketopet.You may be tempted to try other brands such as the KetoMojo that requires less expensive test strips compared to the precision brand, but I will warn you that this brand did not work for my dog to test ketones and it has been reported by several other members of the Ketogenic Dog Group to not work on their dogs either. So I only recommend the Precision brand meter.
In addition to the meter, you will also need the test strips. There are specific strips to test glucose (sugar) and a different strip that measures Ketones. So you will need both. Below are Amazon links for the products I use.
larger 28 gauge lancets
Tricks and tips for taking blood readings
- use a 28 gauge lancet if you have a hard time getting a decent blood sample with the thinner lancets that most meters come with.
- There is no need to use the “gun” to fire the lancet, it will just scare them with the noise. simply take the lancet and hold it in your hand to press it in to get a blood sample.
- I take the blood sample from the inside of Emie’s lip- alternate spots are inside the ear, paw pad, callous on leg area, or their carpal pad.
- If your dog doesn’t give enough of a blood you probably need the 28 gauge lancets.
- If your dog refuses to let you take the blood sample, you have to hold your ground and give them some tough love. Emie hates it, but she also hated me cutting her nails and after enough persistence I can now cut her nails with no struggle, So you have to show them who’s boss sometimes to get them to do things they may not otherwise do willingly! please note: if your dog is getting overly stressed while taking the blood reading, this will elevate the glucose reading. so overtime, its important that the dog remain calm during the blood test to try and get an accurate glucose reading. So if your dog is struggling with you at first, you more than likely will get elevated readings. practice makes perfect, work on this overtime so they get adjusted to the procedure.
- Don’t expect to just be able to do this on the first try. With my dog Emie, I first started by simply taking the lancet, leaving the protective cap on the needle, holding it between my index and thumb, then I simply got her used to the routine of me touching it to the inside of her lip and then giving her hi praise “GOOD DOG!” and repeated that over and over until I finally started doing it with the protective cap off and actually pricking her with the needle.
I’ve heard people talk about “keto flu” for humans, will my dog experience this?
More info can be found in this article I put together here
How Do I know if my dogs home prepared ketogenic meals are providing all the vitamins and minerals my dog needs?
If you’re doing the “Basic” version of the meal, your dog is NOT getting all the nutrients it needs. More details HERE
Where can I get custom formulated Ketogenic Diets?
Click HERE for more info on private consultations
Tip for giving any additional meds/pills throughout the day
We don’t want to be feeding things like pill pockets to hide them in, so a Keto Friendly tip is to use a small amount of cream cheese to hide pills in to feed your dog. Or just some plain ol’ ground beef you’re probably already using in the keto meal, or butter, coconut oil etc..
General food, supplement, vitamin tips
- be VERY careful when choosing what to feed your dog while on a ketogenic diet, we do not want to introduce any sugar or carbs to the diet. and sugar can be hiding in the least suspecting things such as liquid vitamin supplements for example! you must inspect everything you are considering feeding! Items like Dr.Harvey’s Paradigm is sometimes mistakenly used as a “multivitamin” or way to bring in missing nutrients to these diets, but this product drastically lowers your ketogenic ratio! therefore is not advised to use with these diet. For example , just 1 scoop of that product can take a 2:1 ketogenic ratio and lower it to a 1.6:1 ketogenic ratio
- Tip from KPS- ” limit most polyunsaturated fats as they don’t convert well
into ketones” example of polyunsaturated fats
- Tip from KPS- “What about the pathogens and bacteria in meat? Will my dog get sick or make me sick?
Yes, there is bacteria in raw meat. Worth considering, is that canine saliva contains lysozyme, an enzyme that kills and destroys
bacteria, but more importantly, an absence of plaque (typical of dogs that do not consume high carbohydrate kibbles) means the
dog’s mouth is no longer a hospitable place for bacteria to inhabit.
Should you or your Veterinarian be concerned about being licked by a raw-fed dog, you have several options. Teach the dog not to
lick, or avoid being licked. If you are licked wash your face regularly, and your hands. Make sure you clean up the kitchen and the
dog’s bowls as you would do with handling raw meat that you cook for yourself. Additionally, only have the raw meat in the bowl
for as long as it takes the dog to eat.
If your dog isn’t interested in eating for some reason then make sure to put their
food back into the fridge right away. This will limit the opportunity for bacteria
growth. Keep in mind that poultry has a higher risk for salmonella and other
bacteria, so choosing raw ground beef can help reduce this risk.
As always, make sure you are sanitizing your pet’s bowls after
feeding and regularly sanitize any surface used to eat, and make sure
your hands are clean when handling all raw meats.