Let's talk about Diabetes

When we bring home our besties, our thoughts are usually focused on long walks, playtime and lifelong love and loyalty- as they should be. We more seldomly consider the various issues that can present later in life. This is completely understandable- nobody wants to think negatively or worry about problems that may never arise. However, their health is our responsibility and it’s important to give them the best chance of positive outcomes that we possibly can. A little bit of planning can go a long way to achieve this.

One issue that seems to fly under the radar (until it’s too late) is Diabetes. Not something we ordinarily think about when it comes to our four-legged friends. However, dogs and cats can develop diabetes, a condition where the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels is impaired. In dogs, diabetes mellitus is most commonly seen as insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (Type 1) or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (Type 2). Type 2 is the most common in cats. Regardless of the type, managing diabetes involves careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, administering insulin (if necessary), and maintaining a suitable diet. It does seem to be increasing, with latest estimates suggesting that 1 in 300 dogs and 1 in 230 cats would develop the condition in their lifetime.

Symptoms to watch out for:

-Drinking more water than usual and increased urination

-'Cloudy eyes'; the eye lens absorbs glucose and converts it to sorbitol. An excess amount of glucose produces an excess of sorbitol, resulting in a blockage of the light passing through

-Losing weight while eating normally

-Significantly increased appetite; a lack of insulin affects satiety, so they're hungry all the time

-Coat and skin issues; dry, flaky skin and thinning of the coat can be symptoms of dehydration form increased urination

-Decreased energy and reduced interest in activities


It’s important to note that some of the causes are beyond our control, so we won’t delve too deeply into these:

-Genetic predisposition

-Female dogs are twice as likely to develop the condition

-Pugs, Dachshunds, Poodles and Schnauzers are known to be at higher risk

Some factors that are within our control:

-Diet: dogs and cats fed low-quality food throughout their lifetimes are at a higher risk at developing the condition

-Exercise: It’s a no-brainer, but dogs need to be regularly exercised to keep them in tip-top condition. A lack of exercise is a known exacerbating factor

-Steroids: Long-term steroid use is a factor. While steroids are often necessary, some of the conditions they are used for are preventable. For example, food allergies can result in the use of steroids to give your pet relief. It would be much more beneficial to identify and remove the allergen.

-Overfeeding: We know it’s hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes but feeding lots of high-fat and sugary treats is really doing them no favours. This can lead to chronic pancreatitis which in turn can result in diabetes. Of course, pancreatitis can occur with no underlying cause too but it’s important to be mindful of the causes within our control


The Importance of Diet

Cats have no carbohydrate requirement and for dogs it’s minimal, so a raw diet (even partly raw) is by default a good move to make. In fact, evidence suggests that diabetes in cats can actually be reversed by getting them off the high-carb, starchy foods. While this is not the case with the pups, healthy, appropriate food will give them the best chance at a long and happy life.

  1. Control Over Ingredients: Raw feeding allows pet owners to have complete control over what goes into their dog's diet. This means that ingredients can be carefully selected to avoid high-carbohydrate fillers and ingredients that may cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
  2. High Protein, Low Carbohydrate: A raw diet typically consists of higher protein content and lower carbohydrates compared to some commercial dog foods. This can be beneficial for diabetic dogs as it helps stabilise blood sugar levels and promotes lean muscle mass.
  3. Nutrient Density: Raw foods are often more nutrient-dense compared to processed commercial foods. This means that diabetic dogs can get essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without unnecessary additives or preservatives.
  4. Potential Weight Management: Obesity is a common issue in diabetic dogs and can exacerbate their condition. Raw feeding, when properly portioned, can aid in weight management, reducing the strain on the dog's body and improving insulin sensitivity.
  5. Improved Digestion: Some dogs with diabetes may experience gastrointestinal issues. Raw feeding can promote better digestion and nutrient absorption, which is crucial for overall health and well-being.

In conclusion, Diabetes is not something we typically think of as a health hazard with our pets and a diagnosis can be scary and upsetting. However, armed with knowledge of preventative measures, symptoms to watch out for and the importance of diet, this condition can be managed and provide them with the full and active lifestyle they so thoroughly deserve.

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