As stated by Dr. Shawn Messonnier in his book titled “Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats”, diabetes mellitus 1 is a common endocrine pancreatic disorder of cats and dogs. The incidence of diabetes in cats and dogs is reported to be anywhere from 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 pets.
Diabetes is classified as type I or type II. Type I diabetes is also called insulin-dependent diabetes. In this disorder, there is destruction of the beta cells (insulin-producing cells) of the pancreas. Treatment involves replacing insulin through insulin injections given 1 to 2 times per day.
Type II diabetes is also called non-insulin dependent diabetes, as insulin is usually not required for treating pets with this disorder. Insulin resistance and dysfunctional beta cells, rather than permanent destruction of beta cells, are seen in pets with type II diabetes.
Type I is the most common type. Causes of type I diabetes include immune-mediated destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas in dogs and amyloidosis (deposition of amyloid protein in the pancreas) in cats. Other causes of diabetes in dogs and cats include obesity, which is considered the primary cause for type II in cats, genetics, infection pancreatitis, and administration of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and progesterone compounds.
Dietary therapy is useful in both dogs and cats with diabetes. Most diabetic dogs require insulin as they have type I diabetes. Many cats may not require insulin, as they typically have type II diabetes.
While not scientifically proven, some holistic or integrated veterinarians believe that years of feeding corn-based foods to cats, which amounts to feeding a high carb food to a true carnivore, may be contributing to the high incidence of diabetes in cats.
If your fur kids are overweight or obese (please see our article on pet obesity) accordingly, and immediately start a dietary regime towards arresting the situation.
The symptoms of diabetes can develop gradually and without notice, and typically include the following:
- Increased urination and increased thirst. These two signs are hallmarks of a diabetic condition, so you’ll want to watch closely for them, especially as your pet ages. Unfortunately, increased thirst and urine output are also signs of other serious health problems, so regardless of the age or condition of your dog or cat, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian (and bring a urine sample) if you notice these symptoms.
- Increased appetite. Your pet might grow hungrier over time because the amino acids and glucose needed inside the cells aren’t getting there, or aren’t being used appropriately.
- Weight loss. When the cells of your pet’s body are being starved of essential nutrients, the result is often an increase in appetite. But because the energy from food is not being used efficiently by the body’s cells, your pet can lose weight even though he’s taking in more calories.
- Lack of energy and increased need for sleep. When the cells of your pet’s body are deprived of blood sugar, he’s apt to show a general lack of desire to run, take a walk with you, or engage in play.
- Vision problems. Another symptom of diabetes in companion animals is blindness, which is seen primarily in dogs, but cats can also develop blindness as a result of diabetic cataracts.
- Weakness in rear limbs (cats only). This symptom is unique to kitties with diabetes. It’s called the plantigrade stance. Instead of walking high up on the pads of his feet, which is how cats normally walk, a cat with plantigrade stance will drop his hind quarters low and actually walk on his back ankles. Fortunately, this symptom can be reversed once your kitty’s diabetes is under control.
- Urinary tract infections. It’s not at all uncommon for diabetic dogs and cats to acquire secondary urinary tract infections. This happens because the more sugar there is in the urine, the greater the likelihood that bacteria will grow in your pet’s bladder.
- Kidney failure. Kidney failure, especially in cats, is also a common secondary symptom of diabetes. Often the first diagnosis for a diabetic kitty is chronic renal insufficiency or acute kidney problems. The sugar that is meant to be retained in your pet’s bloodstream spills over into the urine and is very damaging to the kidneys.
Although diagnosing diabetes is not demanding, treating it certainly is. That said, it is a treatable disease in dogs and most diabetic dogs can lead very high-quality lives.
As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.
Principal Natural Solutions
- Natural diet, glandular therapy, chromium, vanadium
Supporting Natural Solutions
- Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, alanine, glutamine, DMG, glycoproteins, N-acetylcysteine, proanthocyanidins, bilberry, burdock root, calendula, dandelion leaf, dandelion root, garlic, gymnema, marshmallow, panax ginseng, yucca
Diabetes Herbal Support Blend
Start by switching your fur kid to natural raw cuisine. Once your fur kids transitioned to raw, typically between 4 and 6 weeks, introduce our Diabetes Herbal Support Blend into the diet. The Diabetes Support Blend is used to increase insulin sensitivity in dogs, enhance insulin secretion and regulate blood sugar levels, using 100% natural herbal blend. The Diabetes Support Blend contains garlic, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, fenugreek seed and Brewer’s Yeast.
These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:
- Cats and Carbohydrates: The Carnivore Fantasy? (PubMED)
- Preventing and Treating Canine Diabetes (The Bark);
- Canine Diabetes: Prevention And Treatment (Dogs Naturally Magazine);
- Treating Diabetes Holistically (Natural Pet);
- Canine and Feline Diabetes Mellitus: Nature or Nurture? by Jacquie S. Rand, Linda M. Fleeman, Heidi A. Farrow, Delisa J. Appleton, and Rose Lederer from Centre for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane 4072, Australia (Nutrition.Org);
Dr Judy Morgan discuss Helping Diabetes through Pet Foods
Dr. Karen Becker discuss Things to Know about Pet Diabetes (Part 1)
Dr. Becker Discusses Things to Know about Pet Diabetes (Part 2)
Dr. Becker Discusses Diabetes Insipidus or Water Diabetes
References and Research
- 1.Bruyette D. Diabetes Mellitus in Dogs and Cats. MSD. 2000. https://www.msdvetmanual.com/endocrine-system/the-pancreas/diabetes-mellitus-in-dogs-and-cats.