- Obesity/High Carbohydrate Diets
Obesity is by far the biggest reason pets develop diabetes mellitus. The majority of pets in the U.S. consume a high calorie, high carbohydrate diet, even though dogs and cats have no physiological requirement for grains like corn, wheat, rice, soy, millet or quinoa as sources of energy.
“Grain free” dry foods have made feeding pets even more confusing and also contribute to the obesity and diabetic epidemics we are experiencing.
Although grain free, these diets are calorie dense and contain high glycemic potatoes, chickpeas, peas or tapioca, which require a substantial insulin release from the body.
All the carbs (starch) in your pet’s food – which can be as much as 80 percent of the contents – break down into sugar. Excess sugar can result in diabetes.
You can help your dog or cat stay trim by feeding him a portion controlled, moisture rich, balanced, species-appropriate diet consisting of a variety of unadulterated protein sources, healthy fats, low starch veggies and fruit in moderation, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary.
- Sedentary Lifestyle
Another lifestyle-related reason pets develop diabetes - one that often goes hand-in-hand with poor nutrition - is lack of exercise.
Companion animals often lead the same sedentary lifestyle their humans do. It’s not a total lack of movement – just not nearly enough of the kind that’s beneficial for health.
Both you and your pet need regular heart-thumping, muscle-toning, calorie burning exercise.
If your dog or cat is lying around the house all day while you’re at work – even if she can get out to your fenced yard through a doggie door to get some fresh air and sunshine – her heart rate is not being elevated for the 20 minutes per day she needs to achieve good cardiovascular conditioning.
Unless you’re actively exercising your dog or cat, her exertion will be anaerobic – short bursts of energy followed by long periods of rest. Anaerobic exercise won’t condition your pet’s heart or muscles or burn the calories she consumes. I recommend a minimum of 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise for your pet.
- Too Many Vaccines
There is a growing body of research that connects autoimmune disorders to Type II diabetes, especially in dogs. If your pet’s immune system attacks his pancreas, he can develop diabetes.
Dogs, in particular, are prone to immune system attacks on the pancreas, or more specifically, the cells that secrete insulin in the pancreas. This situation points to an autoimmune component in the development of Type II diabetes in canines.
Immune-mediated or autoimmune diseases are thought to be caused by overstimulation of the immune system. One of the primary ways your pet’s immune system can be overstimulated is through repetitive yearly vaccinations against diseases he is already immunized against.
If your pet had his full set of puppy or kitten shots on schedule, there’s a high likelihood his immunity to those diseases will last a lifetime. Each time a fully immunized pet receives a repetitive set of vaccines, it increases the risk of overstimulating his immune system.
I recommend you find an integrative or holistic veterinarian who runs antibody titer tests to measure each animal’s antibody response from previous vaccinations. Titer results will tell you whether re-vaccination is necessary, and for what disease.