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A diet-based alternative for stabilising pets with diabetes

Beagle puppy eating

Diabetes used to be quite a rare disease in dogs and cats, but incidences have increased dramatically in recent years so, this week I’m going to look specifically at how to help stabilise your pet’s blood sugar levels through diet.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is caused by a failure of the body (special cells in the pancreas) to produce insulin, the hormone that enables cells in the body to absorb glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream. Diabetic patients end up with very high blood sugar, but with body cells starving from lack of sugar. This results in a long-term breakdown of body tissues, and production of toxic metabolites (called keto-acidosis).

What causes diabetes in pets?

Many modern pet foods can be very high in carbohydrates like wheat and corn. Highly processed pet foods can contain more than 50 percent carbohydrates (a significant cause of pet obesity) and, because most of these carbs are ‘simple’ carbohydrates, they are easily converted to sugars.
With such large quantities of carbohydrate available (often up to four to five times the normal requirement) your pet’s body must produce four to five times as much insulin to cope with the resulting sugar spike, which can trigger diabetes.

What are the signs of diabetes in pets?

Signs of diabetes vary, but most pets will primarily show an increase in drinking (and urinating), a very aggressive appetite (always hungry) and some gradual and progressive weight loss despite their appetite. As the disease progresses to become toxic, affected pets may lose their appetite and show signs of vomiting and lethargy, and you may find their breath smells ‘acetone’ (fruity). If your dog or cat reaches this stage, they are in a critical condition, are at a high risk of death, and you should consult your vet immediately.

How can I stabilise diabetes in my pets?

Typically a vet will prescribe insulin to stabilise your pet’s blood sugar but, for a natural, diet-based alternative which has been shown to stabilise pets with diabetes, I recommend a balanced, fresh meat diet.

In my experience, animals fed on a balanced fresh meat diet, with 60-80 percent meat content, will simply not develop diabetes in the first place. But, for pets that have developed diabetes already, changing to a balanced, fresh meat diet achieves several fundamental things:
1.    It reduces the quantity of carbohydrate in the diet and replaces it with fresh meat – which immediately reduces the amount of insulin required on a daily basis to handle blood sugar levels. With cats, it is quite possible to have them totally (100 percent) revert to normal and have NO requirement for supplementary insulin at all.

2.    It provides naturally-occurring levels of micronutrients like chromium and vanadium which are integral to the cells in the pancreas that produce natural insulin. In providing these micro-nutrients, which are found in a balanced fresh-meat diet, many dogs start producing higher levels of insulin naturally which results in a much lower requirement for external insulin injections.

NB: It is very important to monitor your pet’s blood sugar levels if you intend to switch them to a balanced fresh meat diet. Please have a chat to your vet before changing to a fresh meat diet.

Product of the week: Vets All Natural Complete Mix Weight Loss 

vetsDesigned to be fed in quantities according to the dogs 'ideal' or target weight, rather than its current weight, Complete Mix for Weight Loss is the perfect formula to assist your dog’s weight loss. Working on the principle of lower fat, lower protein, and a higher level of vegetable matter and roughage.

The recipe mimics the gut content of prey animals and provides reduced calorie intake, while delivering high levels of essential nutrients.

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