Diabetes in Dogs and Cats
Veterinarian Reviewed on November 2, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Diabetes is one of the most common endocrine diseases seen today in dogs and cats. There are 2 forms of diabetes, Type 1 or insulin dependent diabetes and Type 2 or Non-insulin dependent diabetes. When dogs get diabetes almost 100% get Type 1 Diabetes and when cats get diabetes 50 and 70 % of them get Type 1 Diabetes. Immune disease can be a cause of diabetes in these animals. Other causes of diabetes in dogs and cats include obesity (probably the most common cause of type II diabetes in cats), genetics, infection, pancreatitis, and administration of certain medications (corticosteroids, progesterone compounds).
Conventional treatments for diabetes include insulin for dogs and cats and possibly diabetic pills for cats. ( These are not effective in dogs). Most conventional veterinarians will also put their patients on a diabetic maintenance diet –a commercial, usually dry diet that is higher in fiber and lower in fat than most diets.
Natural treatments for diabetes may be added along with conventional insulin. These include natural raw or cooked homemade diets that are high in fiber but low in carbs from grains, herbal supplements, and minerals such as chromium.
Cats are most likely to benefit from dietary and exercise therapy as they are more likely to develop non insulin dependent diabetes. Most holistic veterinarians believe that years of feeding cats diets high in carbohydrates from grains has contributed to the increase in feline diabetes.
Most homemade diets for pets with diabetes need to have increased levels of soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers are things like inulin and guar gum which are tasteless and can be added to the diet. These fibers help slow the absorption of glucose from the digestive tract. Insoluble fibers such as found in pumpkin and squash have similar effect. Diets high in fiber should not be fed to diabetic animals who are already thin. They require a maintenance food until they are a normal weight
Natural supplements that are helpful are chromium, vanadium and herbal supplements containing fenugreek, gymnema and bitter melon. One such supplement is Mellit from Pet Well Being. These supplements can be used along with insulin but blood sugar needs to be monitored. Sometimes these work so well that conventional therapy is not needed, but it is important that your veterinarian knows what you are giving your pet and that he or she approves it.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan