Diabetes in dogs is a somewhat common disease that can effect all canine breeds. For the owner of a diabetic dog, or a hypoglycemic dog, it will be crucial they follow the vets directions on a daily regimen for insulin and a diabetic diet for treatment. Having said that, there are some additional steps that could be taken nutritionally to deal with the condition of diabetesand by the way, these tips are good for diabetes prevention as well!
Canine diabetes is not a death sentence. The same steps that help treat the diabetic dog are also recommended for prevention of the disease. Canine diabetes results from inadequate production of insulin by the islet cells in the dog's pancreas. This is typically due to genetic predisposition or in some cases, canine pancreatitis. Insulin enables glucose to pass into cells, where it is metabolized to produce energy. Insulin deficiency in dogs results in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and glycosuria (high urine sugar).
Diabetic Dog Information and Statistics
Approximately 1 in 160 dogs (0.67%) will have diabetes. As stated before all breeds can be affected. Breeds with the highest incidence of canine diabetes are known to be Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Miniature Schnauzers, Keeshonden, and Poodles. Females with the disease outnumber males by three to one. The average age of the onset of diabetes in dogs is 6 to 9 years.
Signs of Canine Diabetes
- High glucose levels in the blood and urine
- Excessive drinking of water
- Frequent urination
- Increase in appetite
- Unexplained loss of weight.
What your vet will prescribe:
Generally speaking your vet will direct you in a way to safely deal with diabetes via a daily regimen. The diabetic dog will have to adhere to a daily plan, which likely will include:
- Recommended daily insulin injections
- Calorie guidelines based on weight and activity level
- Guidelines on types of foods to feed
3 Nutritional Guidelines
Interestingly, it is thought that dogs only get type I diabetes, where the pancreas does not produce insulin. Contrast that with type II diabetes in dogs, often seen in humans due to poor diet and the obese state. Often this is overlooked with the diabetic dog in that, hey they are on insulin so what does it matter? It does matter! Because the obese state greatly reduces tissue responsiveness to insulin, it becomes difficult to control diabetes in the obese dog. Your vet will want to try and control the obese state through diet and exercise.
#1 The Right Food for Blood Sugar
There is no standard diet that is accepted by all for diabetic dogs. It would take us five articles here to discuss, so we will sum with these general guidelines for diabetic dog diets:
- A low-sugar diet (high sugar increases the burden for insulin)
- Moderately low-fat diet (often, diabetic dogs will have correlated issues in which a lower-fat diet is indicated; such as pancreatitis or elevated blood lipids).
- A diet that is consistent on a complex carbohydrates and fiber (not high-fiber necessarily, but an amount that has been worked out by response)
- Protein intake: normal or increased (the latter if the diabetic dog is too skinny or too fat)
Stabilization and routine in feeding are important, as any change in carbohydrates will affect the amount of insulin needed. Therefore, try to feed the same amount of the same type of food at the same time each day, ideally in two meals 12 hours apart. Note that some dogs may need a snack between meals to keep glucose levels from falling too low.
#2 Address the Inflamed State
A misunderstood fact about fat cells is that they are inert (inactive). Recent research shows that not to be true. In fact obese fat cells are now shown to have signaling characteristics which are detrimental to systemic health. What does that mean? It means that obese fat cells can be the cause for the diabetes disease. One of these signals is the inflammatory state. Here is a quote from a study (and there are many now), entitled Companion Animals Symposium: Obesity in dogs and cats: What is Wrong with Being Fat:
"The persistent, low-grade inflammation secondary to obesity is thought to play a causal role in chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, and others."
It becomes critical then to reduce the inflamed statethis is a new way to think about obesity. Diet and exercise are first, but a close second would be to utilize nutrients, which are known to directly accomplish this. That is where the essential fatty acids EPA-DHA come in (from fish oil). EPA-DHA has been shown to produces hormone-like substances known as eicosonoids, which strongly counteract inflammatory substances and greatly help to reduce the inflamed state. Additionally, they help to lower blood lipids as well, which often can be an issue in the obese dog. Ultimately what fish oil can do is optimize the function of the cells, which will improve their sensitivity to insulin and will reduce or stop any harmful cellular signaling that causes the onset of diabetes in dogs.
We recommend Celavin. Its rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, and because it is produced at one of the most prestigious fish oil production plants in the world, it is extremely refined to remove impurities and toxic metals (which can cause inflammation). By utilizing a high-quality fish oil supplement like Celavin you can address one of the major issues facing the diabetic dog, especially the obese dog.
#3 Ensuring Proper Foundational Nutrition
The other area to look at in supplements is adequate vitamin and mineral intake. Simply, vitamins and minerals are responsible for many of the metabolic activities, which take place in the body. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder of sorts, thus you want to make sure to provide adequate nutrition to optimize the metabolic processes. If you have concerns about the nutrition your pet has been receiving, you can supplement with a high-quality vitamin and mineral formula like Spectrin for Dogs. Dealing with canine diabetes can be challenging, but it by no means is a death sentence. With strict adherence to your vets recommendations for insulin and dog food, along with taking a few steps nutritionally you can help your dog to lead a long, healthy life.
Cites and References
- Diet in the prevention of diabetes and obesity in companion animals. Rand JS, Farrow HA, Fleeman LM, Appleton DJ. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2003;12 Suppl:S6.
- The effects of weight loss on adipokines and markers of inflammation in dogs. Wakshlag JJ, Struble AM, Levine CB, Bushey JJ, Laflamme DP, Long GM. Br J Nutr. 2011 Oct;106 Suppl 1:S11-4. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511000560.
- Companion Animals Symposium: Obesity in dogs and cats: What is wrong with being fat? Laflamme DP. J Anim Sci. 2012 May;90(5):1653-62. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4571. Epub 2011 Oct 7. Erratum in: J Anim Sci. 2012 Jul;90(7):2424.
- Effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil on in vivo production of inflammatory mediators in clinically normal dogs. LeBlanc CJ, Horohov DW, Bauer JE, Hosgood G, Mauldin GE. Res. 2008 Apr;69(4):486-93.
- [The effects of omega-3 fish oil lipid emulsion on inflammation-immune response and organ function in patients with severe acute pancreatitis]. Xu QH, Cai GL, Lü XC, Hu CB, Chen J, Yan J. Zhonghua Nei Ke Za Zhi. 2012 Dec;51(12):962-5. Chinese.
- Fish oil and inflammatory status alter the n-3 to n-6 balance of the endocannabinoid and oxylipin metabolomes in mouse plasma and tissues. Balvers MG, Verhoeckx KC, Bijlsma S, Rubingh CM, Meijerink J, Wortelboer HM, Witkamp RF. Metabolomics. 2012 Dec;8(6):1130-1147. Epub 2012 Apr 11.