Diabetes in Pets

Adding more fiber to a pet's diet can be of help with both overweight and regulation. Insulin resistance can come, at least in part, because a pet or person is too heavy. Fiber helps with weight loss because it allows one to feel "full" without the need to consume more food.

Those who have food spikes may find they can be eliminated or made manageable by putting more fiber in their diet[1], as it slows glucose absorption[2]. Putting the brakes on food spikes means coming closer to regulation. Overall because it helps reduce or eliminate some of these Obstacles to regulation, more fiber can mean less insulin[3].

At this time, it is believed that both soluble and insoluble fibers can benefit diabetic dogs. The present thought is that fiber's fermenting effects modify secretion of certain gastrointestinal metabolism hormones which have an influence on insulin sensitivity[4].

Fiber can also be of help with some bowel disorders, absorbing moisture in the case of diarrhea, and adding it to aid with constipation[5]. It also finds use in weight reduction/weight maintenance diets. Use of a high-fiber diet can be helpful for dogs with anal gland problems[6].

In Dogs

Proven to be effective in also controlling human diabetes, is the introduction of more soluble fiber into the diet[7]. Insulin-dependent diabetics especially benefit from dietary manipulations, which aid in insulin therapy. No one would suggest that someone with diabetes of either type should eat as he/she pleased and control things solely with insulin or oral medications.

Studies of people with diabetes indicate that a high-carbohydrate diet is associated with increased blood glucose fluctuations and hypertriglyceridemia. Those on a high-carbohydrate/low fiber diet containg soluble fiber had lower glycosylated hemoglobin values, lower post-prandial blood glucose levels with either a reduction or end to the hypertriglyceridemic effect.

Canine studies[8] indicate that a higher-fiber diet improved all glycemic indices: significantly lower fructosamine results and reduction in post-prandial hyperglycemia, among them. Unlike their human counterparts, who, despite other significant improvements, were unable to lower their insulin requirements by the addition of soluble fiber, 9 of 11 dogs in a particular study lowered theirs with adding soluble fiber. Higher fiber diets[9] reduce insulin resistance. Choice of a diet which includes higher fiber is also effective in managing the Post-meal blood glucose rise in dogs; managing this successfully means better overall blood glucose control[10].

Drs. Fleeman and Rand produced a 2003 study of dogs whose diabetes was in control with feeding both high-fiber, moderate starch-containing food against commercial dog foods containing moderate amounts of fiber and low starch. They found there was no advantage to the high-fiber, moderate starch diet[11].

Most pro-active canine caretakers home monitor their dog's blood glucose levels multiple times on a daily basis with regular curves and fructosamine testing. Many are feeding one of the various prescription diabetes diets in either dry or canned form. The most common protocol is feeding and giving insulin injections 12 hours apart[12], with the most commonly used insulin being R-DNA/GE/GM NPH insulin[13].

Barring unexpected things like Urinary tract infections, etc., most are well-regulated and under renal threshold at all times with no need for intensive therapy involving basal/bolus protocol. Just as no human with diabetes will repeat the same blood glucose readings day after day, the same is true for pets. The possible stresses and other factors which can influence diabetes are unable to be reproduced, and therefore, it is impossible.

It is the rare dog who requires regular injections of short-acting insulin in addition to the NPH or Lente given after meals. Neither ultralente nor Lantus have had dependable results in dogs[14].

Dogs whose diabetes is not well-controlled don't metabolize nutrients well; a symptom of this is polyuria. They will require more calories than a healthy/well-controlled dog as a result of the poor metabolism.

Diet needs to be nutritionally sound and palatable to the individual pet, to make food intake predictable.

Meals should be timed so that the maximum effect of the injected insulin occurs after it's been eaten, or post-prandially[15].

Since the insulin regimen for most dogs is of a fixed pattern, having a predictable glycemic response should be achieved each time. This means that each meal should be comprised of roughly the same ingredients and caloric content and fed at the same times each day. Being consistent with food and insulin times makes for the best results[16].

In Cats

It was once thought[17] that a high-fiber, medium-carbohydrate diet would also be appropriate for diabetic cats. This recommendation has fallen out of favor, since it's not species-appropriate. Cats are now recommended a low-carb diet instead. References to literature at that article.

Further Reading