Diabetes is quite common in cats and fairly common in dogs.
Diabetes is often complicated in that many other organs are affected by the disease.
The good news ... a lot of diabetic patients can be managed successfully with special diets alone; no insulin needed. A lot of other diabetic patients still need insulin therapy but diet therapy keeps the patient in equilibrium and prevents disease complications.
Our dietary goals with diabetic patients are
Gradual weight loss if needed. In dogs the new weight loss product Slentrol may be recommended.
Weight and insulin requirement are directly related.
Weight gain if needed. Some diabete patients require extra calories.
Even and slow absorption of sugars after a meal
Timing of your pet's meal is important. If your pet only receives one injection of insulin per day, it is usually recommended she eat half of her daily meal at the time of injection and the remaining half when the insulin is at its peak activity. Pets receiving insulin twice a day are usually given half of their daily meal at the time of each dose.
It is very important that your pet eats around the time the insulin is administered, or her blood glucose level may go too low.
My general recommendations:
Your vet may have different or specific recommendations
Cats: Purina's DM Diet for cats (DM stands for diabetes mellitus) is my first choice for most diabetic cats. It is very high in protein and low in carbs. This is a new approach to treating diabetes and it seems to make a major difference in many diabetic cats.
Prior to the recent introduction of Purina DM, most vets recommended high fiber diets to help manage diabetes in cats (with the exception of underweight cats) and this is still a good choice.
High amounts of fiber in the diet can affect the absorption and metabolism of glucose and fat in the diet. The fiber will slow glucose absorption from the digestive tract so there is not a high peak in blood glucose level right after eating.
High fiber diets also promote weight loss. To be most effective, diets with high fiber must also contain significant amounts of complex carbohydrates (as opposed to simple sugars)
As a rule, we avoid semi - moist diets as they tend to have too much sugar in them.
Either canned or dry diets are okay for diabetic pets but canned diets seem to be preferred by most of our expert seminar speakers.
For dogs, most vets recommend diets high in fiber, low in simple sugars, low in fats, and containing complex carbs that are designed to prevent food absorption peaks and help reduce excess weight.
The best include:
Hill's R/D and W/D diets.
Royal Canin DIABETIC HF 18 FORMULA
Supplements used in treating diabetes:
Acarbose: A starch blocker called acarbose may be added to the treatment regimen. This medication has been available in Europe for awhile and is now available in the US under the brand name Precose by Bayer.
About half of cats given acarbose along with a high protein - low carb diet were able discontinue insulin injections !
Slentrol: a very new and exciting FDA APPROVED weight loss drug that actually works ... but only for dogs. Not safe or effective for cats or humans.
Omega Fatty Acid Supplements: For general health reasons.
Duralactin Feline Suspension: as a source of Omega Fatty Acids in cats and to make sick cats feel better. I love the effects of this supplement for cats and small breed dogs.
Lean Snacks: Most vets now offer several different cat and dog treats designed to be low calorie or high fiber useful for when you want to reward diabetic patients. I often use Hill's Tarter Control diet as treats.
Anti-oxidants, vitamins, digestive aids like probiotics and many herbal treatments are being recommended or used in the profession and may or may not be based on sound evidence based medicine.
But treating patients is never a cook book science; especially with a whole body disease like diabetes where all kinds of secondary problems may need to be addressed.
May the peace of the lord be with you,
Roger Ross, DVM