Thursday, December 4, 2008

Myths surrounding diabetes

Another illness in animals, which unfortunately by now too made it into the top list of diseases is diabetes.
According to a press release form Hill’s Pet Nutrition published early November in the Scoop Independent News NZ, “Pets are increasingly diagnosed with Diabetes.” In it the pet food manufacturer states that “Diabetes affects more cats and dogs each year especially overweight animals and certain breeds. And just like human diabetes, if left untreated the condition may become life threatening.
Veterinarian Dr Mike Gething of Howick Vets says this serious disease is becoming more common in today's pet population. But he says prompt diagnosis and the introduction of a healthy diet will help pets enjoy a good quality of life.
"We operate a large vet clinic with four vets. At the moment we have four cats and 10 dogs diagnosed with diabetes and on insulin," says Gething.
"Certain breeds both in cats and dogs are pre-disposed to diabetes. I see popular cats such as Burmese and Birmans suffering from diabetes as well as older and overweight pets of mixed breeding."
However, Gething says the news is not all bad. He says when diabetes is diagnosed the level of therapy is matched to the severity of the condition and good results are usually seen.
"While cats and dogs almost always need insulin treatment, the glucose levels of many pets on treatment returns to a normal condition. By putting pets on an appropriate clinically proven diet for diabetes the dose of long term insulin use is reduced. For example, an overweight cat may need a high-fibre, low fat calorie restricted diet," says Gething.
Tauranga veterinarian Dr Julie McCarthy says a simple blood and urine test provides an accurate analysis.
"If your pet is showing symptoms of diabetes such as increasing thirst, urinating more, eating more but appearing to be losing weight, something is wrong and it's time to seek advice from a vet. In severe cases where diabetes is left untreated, animals can go into a coma," says McCarthy.
"Following diagnosis, cats and dogs need to be treated at a vet clinic with insulin every day for approximately two weeks. Their blood glucose also has to be measured. Some cats may need insulin every day for the rest of their lives and the pet owner will have to inject insulin daily, and feed their pet a special low carbohydrate diet," says McCarthy.
Hill's Pet Nutrition's Dr Karen Johnston says the disease is one of the most common hormonal disorders in cats.
"Feline diabetes is similar to Type 2 diabetes in humans but in contrast to humans, most cats require insulin.”
I myself too am getting a great number of inquiries about diabetes and how to deal with it on a quite regular basis. This disease typically starts showing up with excessive thirst and urination, but also includes excessive appetite and weight loss as common symptoms. Let’s take a closer look into what it really is: Diabetes develops when the pancreas no longer produces adequate amounts of insulin. Without sufficient insulin, blood sugar cannot be released from the blood to reach the animal’s body tissues. As a result the blood sugar is getting trapped in the blood stream and spills over into the urine. There are actually two variations of this illness: The insulin dependent one is actually the one our companion animals are more affected by. It also can be inherited. The other one, called Type II diabetes, is often linked to obesity and can be easier controlled by simply making adjustments to your pet’s diet. Diabetes can take its toll on your animal’s vision, kidneys and heart. In some cases it even may be prove fatal.
As with anything where there is a lot of talk and discussion. Diabetes too is surrounded by a cloud of myths. Fortunately, it turns out some of them are not always turning out to be true. Today I would like to reveal some truths about diabetes. Knowing about them gives you a basic understanding if this disease unfortunately would hit home.
The most common myth is that diabetes cannot be cured. This is not true. The pancreas, one of the more important glands of the body, can often be rejuvenated and brought back to proper function through a high fiber natural diet and the correct balance of vitamins, minerals, nutraceuticals and herbs. This improved nutrition should be provided after your vet brings the disease under control with insulin. Then, over a period of time, as the body responds to improved nutrition, your vet will reduce the insulin dosage, finally stopping he injections all together. By the way, the improved nutrition should be accompanied by increased exercise.
The ultimate trick to dealing with diabetes is to catch it early and treat it both holistically and clinically (medically) if necessary. While diabetes is primarily related to a weakened pancreas, it most often results from multiple gland weakness. The pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands are also involved in sugar metabolism and many times accompany a weakened pancreas since these glands will often have their own weaknesses and imbalances. In diabetes it is essential to support and boost all of the glands. Ask your veterinarian to perform a metabolic analysis or BNA on your animal’s blood. This test will determine inherent gland weaknesses and imbalances, and also help determine the most individually appropriate nutraceuticals to help correct the deficiencies.
Some people say diabetes is hereditary and cannot be prevented. This again is not true. Nothing exhausts a pancreas more than junk food. However, as we (should) today, many dogs and cats exist on a processed food that is high in refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates basically add up to a serving of sugar. Certain pet foods contain up to 25 to 35% refined carbohydrates in the form of white flour, milled rice and corn sweeteners. The rapid burning off of these carbohydrates results in a speedy elevation and depression of blood sugar levels, which can tire out the pancreas as it tries to meet the insulin needs in a rapidly changing environment. To avoid this problem I recommend feeding a diet with complex carbohydrates like for example whole grains such as brown rice.
How about once on insulin, always on insulin? There is good news in response to this statement. An intelligent holistic program combined with appropriately, vet directed, dosed and monitored insulin will help to control the condition. It can eventually reduce the amounts of insulin or even totally eliminate any dependency on it. Such a program should include a well balanced whole food high fiber diet, appropriately dosed vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and herbs, as well as an increased exercise program. Your vet will also instruct you on how to closely monitor the blood levels of sugar by frequently checking the urine. Please remember that injected insulin, while essential in regulating the blood sugar levels, can actually trick the body into thinking that adequate levels are being produced, often times affecting the body’s own production of insulin. When the pituitary detects adequate levels of insulin, it will actually tell the pancreas to slow production. Consequently, your animal’s body will become insulin dependent. So it’s important at this point to ignore the propaganda that your animal will need injections for the rest of his or her life. In fact, once your animal’s blood levels stabilize on injected insulin, you should make it your goal to introduce a proper nutritional program to slowly replace injections.
Sugar “highs” go with the territory and there is nothing that you can do to help control them. Untrue! If need be and if your pet is acting ravenously, serve a bowel of freshly cooked oatmeal. Oats, along with green beans and sprouts, contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes with insulin like activity. Additionally, oats are also rich in beneficial fiber.
And finally, the last one for today, you will just have to live with frequent “accidents” in the house. Don’t buy into this grim prognosis. The serious side effects of excessive thirst and urination can often be temporary if efforts are made to bring the diabetes under control. Initially, you can accomplish this with insulin injections. Simultaneously, the proper feeding and nourishment of the pancreas and other important glands of the body will start the process of re-establishing gland balance and function. Combined with increased exercise this will help to bring the condition under control and diminish all adverse symptoms associated with diabetes.
Nobody wants to hear bad news from the vet. This includes diabetes. However, now since you know a little more of the truth about some existing myths, arm yourself with good holistic information, surround yourself with an open minded vet and your animal’s future can actually be quite bright.

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