Every year, November 14 marks World Diabetes Day (WDD). It’s important we use this day not only to raise awareness of human diabetes, but also the increasing common diabetes of our furry loved ones. Diabetes in dogs is a concerning global trend. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that one in 400-500 dogs develop the disease in their lifetime. Not only is diabetes a debilitating, chronic condition, when left untreated, it also raises the chance of the dog developing complications such as cataracts or ketoacidosis.
In good news, it’s becoming evident that simple preventative measures such as improving your dog’s diet can reduce the risk of them developing this nasty disease. After all, they are what they eat.
What exactly is diabetes in dogs?
Diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, characterised by the inability of the dog’s body to regulate blood sugar levels. Sugar levels in the dog’s blood are controlled by a hormone called insulin, which is produced in the pancreas.
Why is diabetes increasingly common in dogs?
There are several factors that can increase the risk of a dog developing diabetes, including older age, obesity and genetic factors. But as with humans, it appears that the growing prevalence of the Western Diet, high in carbohydrates and low in antioxidants, is significantly linked to the increasing number of diabetes cases in dogs.
It is widely known that the high level of carbohydrates in dog diets is likely to be contributing to diabetes. Unfortunately, dry dog food, tends to be extremely high carbohydrates in order to create the right texture for manufacturing kibble. Biomedically, consuming large amounts of high GI carbohydrates tend to show up in a dog as insulin resistance, as well as chronic inflammation and endothelial (vascular) dysfunction. In fact, many pets that are diagnosed with diabetes also tend to demonstrate hand in hand signs of inflammation, gastrointestinal or metabolic syndromes, all of which can be linked back to the diet they were eating.
Lack of dietary antioxidants is also increasingly associated with diabetes in dogs. An inadequate intake of nutritional antioxidants typically leads to oxidate stress, which is an imbalance of free-radicals and antioxidants in the body. Oxidate stress can damage the health of both organs and DNA repair processes, increasing the risk of a dog developing diabetes. Consuming shelf-stable pet foods may contribute to this factor due to extended shelf storage and the use of non-functional food ingredients.
How can you lower the risk of your dog developing diabetes?
There are several ways you can decrease the risk of pupper getting diabetes. In particular:
- Reducing carbohydrate content in your dog’s diet is a great starting place. Minimise the high GI carbohydrates they are eating, such as processed grains, rice and potatoes. Instead, opt for low or zero glycaemic foods as they are more slowly processed which lead to a slow, gradual rise in blood glucose. Low GI foods, are the types of ingredients you’ll find Lyka, such as vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes.
- Adding omega 3 to your dog’s diet is also helpful as it is pancreoprotective, in other words, it can have a protective effect on their pancreas. Look to add high omega-3 ingredients into their diet like fish, seafood, flaxseed and chia seeds.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is also important. You should control the food portion size your dog is getting, as well as ensure they get adequate exercise every day.
- Another way to decrease the risk of diabetes is re-considering your dog’s vaccination schedule. Leading immunologist, Dr. Jean Dodds, suggests avoiding unnecessary vaccinations as they can disrupt your pet’s immune and hormonal systems, increasing the risk of diseases such as diabetes.
- Finally, consider taking your dog to a holistic vet, and starting a wellness monitoring program. Chronic inflammation is increasingly linked to many diseases, not only diabetes. Monitoring whole body inflammation through regular check-ins and organ function tests are a great way to set pupper up for a long and healthy life.