DIET FOR THE DIABETIC DOG
A lot of information has recently been published about high protein diets in the management of diabetes mellitus in the cat. It may be tempting to try to apply similar rules to dogs but, in fact, an entirely different approach is needed. Canine diabetes mellitus is more like “Type I” or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in humans while feline diabetes mellitus is more like “Type II.” What this means is that the canine pancreas is not producing any insulin at all while the feline pancreas simply isn’t producing enough. The dietary approaches are very different.
Classically, high fiber diets have been recommended for the management of canine diabetes mellitus. More recent scrutiny of fiber has led to conflicting results. In many cases, addition of insoluble (non-digestible) fibers to the diet assisted with “glycemic control,” meaning that blood sugars were more stable over the day.
Fiber blunts the increase in blood sugar levels that occur after eating, delay the emptying of food from the stomach, and slow the digestion of carbohydrates (glucose sources). All this means that blood sugar levels are inclined not to jump as high after eating compared to those of patients fed low fiber diets.
If the diabetic dog is over-weight (and many are) fiber also helps the patient feel full after eating thus encouraging weight loss. This may not be so desirable in the diabetic dog that is underweight (and many are).
HIGH DIGESTIBILITY DIETS: PROBABLY NOT THE BEST THING
There are numerous diets on the market designed for dogs with “sensitive stomachs.” These foods typically are designed for easy digestion and absorption into the body. While this is helpful to the dog with digestive issues, easy digestion and absorption amounts to higher blood glucose levels after eating. This is probably not the best thing for a diabetic dog.
A common issue that accompanies diabetes mellitus is elevated triglycerides (fats) in the bloodstream. In humans, this is the doorway to vascular disease, cholesterol deposits, heart disease and stroke. Dogs do not generally have to contend with these issues but the elevated fat levels in the blood can lead to pancreatitis which is a serious disease. Many nutritionists recommend that metabolizable energy of a diet not exceed 30% fat but this information is not readily available on a pet food label. Protein recommendations should be 18-25% in the diet (on a dry matter basis).
As long as the diet is consistent, it is generally possible to work with it in achieving diabetic regulation. Here are some additional tips:
COMMONLY RECOMMENDED FOODS
Page posted: 12/25/09