What is Diabetes?
November is National Diabetes Month - for both pets and people. There are two types of diabetes.
Type 1 is an autoimmune disease whereby the pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that grabs glucose out of the bloodstream to use as fuel. This type of diabetes requires daily insulin injections & regular blood sugar testing, along with careful balance of diet & exercise to help keep blood sugars within normal range. In dogs, Type 1 is more common than Type 2.
- Type 2 is a metabolic disease where the pancreas produces some insulin, but it is inefficiently utilized in the bloodstream. This type can often be managed with oral prescriptions & diet. Sometimes, diet alone is enough to maintain normal blood sugar levels. In cats, Type 2 is more common.
In either case, the glucose in the body cannot be used effectively, which leads to a litany of health problems. Diabetes is a serious, irreversible condition for which there is currently no cure. Early detection & proper treatment are critical, as uncontrolled diabetes leads to devastating effects on the body, and ultimately death. Overall, treatment is similar across animals and humans.
Symptoms of Diabetes
- Excessive thirst
- Increased urination
- Appetite changes
- Fruity breath
- Unexplained weight loss
- Depressed attitude
- Extreme fatigue
- Chronic skin or yeast infections
- Urinary tract infections
With diabetes, the goal is to balance blood sugar levels by balancing food intake with insulin (or oral medications) and exercise. Carbohydrates have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels.The higher the carb intake, the more blood sugars will increase.
The glycemic index measures how quickly and dramatically a food will increase blood sugar levels. Low glycemic foods, such as veggies, whole grains (e.g., oats), most fruits and other complex carbohydrates (e.g., legumes) are ideal, since they release glucose slowly and steadily, without causing sharp spikes in blood sugars.
As a Type I diabetic for 35 years, fiber is my friend because it helps reduce the rate at which glucose gets released into the blood stream. 5 Calorie Superfood Dog Treats are an excellent snack for diabetic dogs because they're rich in fiber from the combination of whole oats, chia seeds, natural fruits and veggies - my dogs share them with me (especially before long walks!)
Keeping your fur kid active is important, since exercise helps lower blood sugar levels. Plus, it increases metabolism to help the body use insulin more efficiently. A small snack before exercise can help prevent blood sugar levels from dropping too rapidly (hypoglycemia). An activity plan should be discussed with your vet to avoid complications.
Diabetes requires consistency, planning and discipline, but our pets are more than willing to oblige! And the joy of seeing them feel healthy & happy is worth it!
Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving! 🍗