Defeat Diabetes Foundation 150 153rd Ave, Suite 300 Madeira Beach, FL 33708
Pet Diabetes Awareness and Prevention Program
by Defeat Diabetes Foundation
Diet and Nutrition
Dogs and cats have a very low biological requirement for carbohydrate, and the diets of wild canines and felines that most closely resemble our domestic pets contain very few carbohydrates.
Carbohydrate is one of the largest factors in pet health, contributing to a variety of health problems from digestive disorders to variable blood sugar, obesity and diabetes. The problem with carbohydrates is that - in the body of a cat or dog - they are recognized as sugars and easily stored as fat. As carbohydrates from grains are inexpensive, readily available and easily processed into pet foods, most pet foods exceed 40% in total dietary carbohydrates (that's almost half!).
And while carbohydrate is neither "natural" or "holistic" for dogs and cats, it can be the largest nutrient in "super premium" or "holistic" pet foods.
When your pet dog is diagnosed with diabetes, there are too many things that you need to be careful about, as a pet owner. The most important thing of them all, which is a subject to change is the dog food. As for us humans, avoiding or replacing sugars and carbohydrates for dogs is equally crucial. As we know, carbohydrates are nothing but sugars that are converted into glucose once consumed by the dogs. Reducing levels of carbohydrates below the average risks your dog for a far more severe health condition called hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is caused when body sugar plummets remarkably low and too fast. There are two best options for diabetic dog food, in order to maintain balance in the dog's diet. First one of them is to prepare homemade dog food for diabetes and the second one is to find the best dog food available on the market, which is meant for diabetic dogs.
Most studies on dogs eating diabetic dog food have focused on how calorically dense the food is. They've also taken a look at the nutrientratios. We've also examined diabetic dog food to identify whether the amount and source of fiber can affect dog health, whether dietary supplements or different types of carbohydrates can affect health, and looked for many other factors. Right now, the biggest factor affecting blood glucose and insulin is carbohydrate content. High carb dog foods can be bad.
Of course, certain types of carbohydrates have a bigger glycemic effect than others. Rice is one of the big culprits, and is far worse for diabetic dogs than even sorghum and corn. Avoid diabetic dog foods that contain rice, unless they're otherwise well balanced. We used to think that fiber content was a big factor, as well. However, that might not be all that influential. Moderate fiber diets are definitely helpful for diabetic animals, but extremely high fiber diets may not make a difference.
So, what do you need to look for in diabetic dog food for your pet? The studies tell us that dogs with diabetes should eat high protein foods with a minimum of carbohydrates and a moderate level of fat. These types of foods help manage insulin and glucose levels. Remember to talk to your vet before you choose, though. Understanding carbohydrates
When we talk about carbohydrates, it also helps to know they break down into two categories: simple and complex. An example of a simple carbohydrate is lactose (found in milk); pasta and bread are examples of complex carbohydrates. One can go a bit further with this, knowing that both bread and pasta are made from grain--mainly wheat, to include other food items made from them.
The simple ones are rapidly converted to glucose and promptly raise blood glucose levels. The liver takes longer to convert the complex ones into glucose, and so they raise blood glucose levels more gradually. This is important to know when choosing foods for those with diabetes.
There are two other terms for carbohydrate classification; besides these are--soluble and insoluble. The terms refer to how easily they are broken down in the digestive tract.
Soluble carbohydrates are grains, such as wheat, rice, barley, oats and corn. When cooked and present in pet foods, digestion is easy and rapid.
Insoluble carbohydrates are those we refer to as fiber, which pass through the intestinal tract without being digested. Bran, corn (and its by-products), soy fiber, and beet pulp are some examples found in pet foods.
It may be in the best interests of the particular dog in question that a diet not so high in fiber be utilized, due to other health considerations or that the dog refuses to eat commercial foods higher in fiber. In these cases, home preparation of food may be the only solution. Many people prepare meals for their diabetic pets that have no need of additional bolus insulins.
The right cat food and diet is important regulation tool when your cat has diabetes.
Much in the area of diet and food has been changing over the past few years. New food formulations have emerged, and new theories of what cats are supposed to eat are gaining traction. One thing is certain—diet is one piece of the regulation puzzle.
Whenever you change your cat's diet, slowly change the ratio of new to old food that you feed until you are feeding only the new diet. Monitor your cat's BG and symptoms closely when changing diets to help prevent hypoglycemic episodes.
Cat Food Comparisons & Recommendations
Choosing a healthy cat food is tough work since cat food reviews are often subjective, and ingredient information is scarce. All pet food varies greatly in nutritional content, carb values, low or high protein, ash content, etc.
Thus, for some time, it was customary to feed diabetic cats, like dogs, with a high-fiber, medium carbohydrate diet, attempting to use the high fiber content to slow down carbohydrate absorption in the feline body. This has not proven successful in cats, though, as shown in more recent studies. Drs. Greco, Bennett, Pierson, Hodgkins and Rand all now exclusively recommend a low-carbohydrate diet for uncomplicated diabetic cats.
Healthy cats have even been shown to have improved insulin sensitivity and better weight control when eating a high protein/low carbohydrate diet, which may mean less tendency to become diabetic in the first place.
Intervet brings up an interesting point re: the carbohydrates present in the low-carb diet. Drawing from Dr. Greco's 2001 study as reference, they suggest that the carbohydrates of the low-carb foods chosen should be as low in the glycemic indexas possible. This is echoed in the "Feeding the Diabetic Patient" presentation from Ohio State University's Endocrinology Symposium in 2006.
Switching to low-carb
For cats, it is not necessary to buy a prescription low-carb diet for uncomplicated diabetes. Instead, look at cat food nutrient breakdown and choose a food you can afford with carbohydrate content between 4% and 10% calories from carbohydrates. Some cats do well with even lower, others find less than 4% too low and their cats experience paradoxical high blood glucose levels.
Raw food with proper nutritional supplements are often best for both cats and dogs.
Note: The carbohydrates shown on the label (if they exist at all) will be by weight, not by calorie content.
If switching to a lower-carbohydrate food, do it gradually, while home testing blood glucose, and lower the insulin dosage appropriately, with your vet's help.WARNING: A sudden switch can lower insulin needs dramatically and risks hypoglycemia. This is important enough that Dr. Greco, in a lecture at the District of Columbia Academy of Veterinary Medicine, suggests reducing insulin 25%-50% when switching to a high-protein, low-carb diet. If your cat is on a special diet for pancreatitis, chronic renal failure, or any other condition, consult your vet for the appropriate diet for that condition plus diabetes. Special considerations/complications -- Some other conditions that sometimes occur with diabetes, including pancreatitis, liver problems, or chronic renal failure, may be incompatible with a low-carb diet. In that case, many animals are forced to use a specially-tuned medium-carb diet with special ingredients/restrictions for their condition. Consult your veterinarian
Certain dietary supplements can help with diabetic cats and dogs. Antioxidants can help reduce or reverse damage from hyperglycemia. Chromium can help lower blood glucose levels, L-Carnitine plus a calorie-restricted diet can control weight, and Methyl-B12 can help reverse diabetic neuropathy.
We hope the following information will help you to prevent diabetes, diagnose diabetes or take care of your pet that may have diabetes:
The information presented in this website is not intended to replace the services of a health practitioner licensed in the diagnosis or treatment of illness or disease. Any application of the material herein is at the reader's discretion and sole responsibility. If your pet has a persistent medical condition or the symptoms are severe, please consult a veterinarian.