Oct 31, 2017 08:29PM
By By Judy Morgan DVM
Diabetes mellitis has, unfortunately, become a common diagnosis in veterinary medicine. Pets are being fed diets that are inappropriate, laden with carbohydrates that break down into sugars, causing secondary problems like obesity and diabetes.
Cats are carnivores and should not be fed dry kibble, as the carbohydrate content is very high in kibble food (minimum 45 to 50 percent carbs). Dogs don’t fare much better, but their metabolism is a bit better suited. Carbs like grains, rice, potatoes, peas, lentils, beans, and tapioca break down into sugar. When the sugar level becomes high in the bloodstream, the pancreas releases insulin to drive the sugar into the body cells to be used as energy. Over time, the pancreas can become exhausted, producing less insulin, or the cells can become “insulin resistant”, not responding properly to the insulin signals. This leads to continued high levels of sugar in the bloodstream and this is diabetes. Eventually the body cells become starved because they cannot use the sugar in the blood.
High levels of sugar in the blood will cause increased thirst and urination, cataract formation in the eyes, muscle weakness, and loss of body weight.
The easiest ways to prevent diabetes in pets include feeding a diet that is low in carbohydrates and sugars and maintaining a healthy weight. Do not overfeed your pets or allow them to become obese. If you feel compelled to give out treats, use fresh fruits and vegetables (but no grapes or raisins), pieces of dehydrated meats or hard-boiled eggs.
Once a pet is diagnosed with diabetes, it becomes imperative to feed a more species-appropriate diet to regulate the blood sugar fluctuations. Here is an excerpt from my book From Needles to Natural: Learning Holistic Pet Healing:
“Diet plays an extremely important role in regulating and maintaining diabetic pets. Without controlling the diet, you will not control the diabetes. Diets high in carbohydrates will cause increased insulin requirements and will make control more difficult.”
Diets deficient in moisture, like dry kibble, will add to the problems of increased thirst and urination. Medications and supplements can also interfere with insulin and sugar metabolism, making it difficult to get the diabetes regulated. Be sure to tell your veterinarian about all supplements you are giving. Diabetic treatment in pets does require insulin injections. The human oral medications are not effective in pets. It is much better to prevent this disease than to end up giving insulin injections twice daily for life.
If you are having a difficult time achieving diabetic regulation, have your pet checked for other endocrine diseases, such as Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism. If concurrent disease is left untreated, diabetes can be hard to manage.I have had great success getting diabetic patients regulated and maintained with low doses of insulin by feeding a meat-based diet suitable for dogs and cats. My pets eat this type of diet, which helps maintain proper weight and metabolism.
Dr. Morgan Practices at Clayton Veterinary Associates in Clayton, and Churchtown Veterinary Associates in Pennsville. For more information visit DrJudyMorgan.com.