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Is Your Vet Offering A1C Diabetes Testing to Monitor Your Pet's Health?

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Story at-a-glance -

  • The A1C test is a well-established, important diagnostic tool in human health care, especially for patients with diabetes
  • Now Baycom Diagnostics has developed a simple, inexpensive A1C test that provides a 70-day average blood glucose level for cats, and a 110-day average for dogs
  • The A1C test can also provide an overall metabolic picture for healthy pets when used proactively by veterinarians
  • An A1C-like saliva test for home use is in development at Baycom — it will provide a week or two average glucose level to show sudden spikes in a pet’s A1C number, alerting pet parents to the need for an A1C blood test

Today I’m talking with Gus Ray, president and CEO of Baycom Diagnostics. Gus calls himself a “serial entrepreneur and scientist,” and Baycom’s single focus right now is a gold standard A1C diabetes test for cats and dogs. The test is called A1CARE, and it’s very easy for veterinarians to use.

The A1Care Diabetes Test for Cats and Dogs

Baycom’s A1CARE technology uses a dried blood spot test. Veterinarians put two drops of a patient’s blood on specially treated paper, allow it to dry, put the sample in a mailer and send it off to Baycom. Baycom runs an A1C test on the sample and sends the results back to the veterinarian.

A1C is one of the most important diagnostic tools available to measure metabolic health in humans, but it hasn’t been viewed the same way in veterinary medicine. In human medicine, it’s considered a highly reliable and accurate test for diagnosing and managing diabetes, in part because it provides a 120-day average glucose level.

The A1CARE test provides a 70-day average glucose level for cats, and a 110-day average for dogs. It’s proving to be a revolutionary diagnostic tool for the veterinarians who are using it, because we’ve not had anything like it before.

A1C Is a Valuable Marker for Overall Metabolic Health

The KetoPet Sanctuary, which I often discuss here at Mercola Healthy Pets, as well as functional medicine veterinarians are beginning to view A1C as a marker for overall metabolic health in animals. The A1CARE test is definitely something I would consider running for my healthy patients in addition to pets with metabolic diseases, including diabetes. As a wellness veterinarian, I think the A1CARE test may be one of the best diagnostic tools we’ve seen for pets in quite some time.

It’s easy, inexpensive and also proactive in terms of identifying when a dog or cat could be developing a metabolic disorder, or how close they are to falling off a “metabolic cliff.” Gus’ research has found that in the case of dogs (the data on cats isn’t in yet), many hold it together metabolically until the age of 7 or 8, and then very suddenly lose their ability to effectively manage their blood sugar and their A1C goes up.

“Although we don’t know what’s causing this,” says Gus, “clearly these dogs are losing metabolic control of probably not just glucose, but a myriad of other things.”

This actually happened with Gus’ own Labrador, who is well-exercised, eats a great diet and maintained a perfect and consistent 3.3 A1C for the first 7 years of his life. He recently turned 8, and almost like clockwork, his A1C jumped to 5.8. Nothing about his lifestyle had changed — he just got older.

“Of course, as a scientist who knows probably too much about this, I started him on treatments that are really helping,” Gus explains. “I brought his A1C number right back down.

And I haven’t seen any physical signs of a problem. He really isn’t slowing down yet. But I think if I get ahead of this, I can preserve his longevity and quality of life by keeping his A1C under control, and also use it as a marker for what else is going on with him.”

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How Your Pet Looks on the Outside Doesn’t Tell the Full Story

Gus brings up a very important point with regard to how our dogs look versus what’s happening on the inside as they age. Clients with older pets tell me, “I can’t physically see any changes in my pet. He looks amazing. His weight is right where it should be. Everything’s great.” What they can’t see is their dog’s or cat’s internal metabolic clock ticking away.

Gus checks his dog’s A1C every quarter, which is optimal but probably not realistic for most pet parents. I’d probably recommend testing every six months, and as soon as there’s a change indicating metabolic instability, taking proactive steps to get that number back under control.

So many pet parents are taken by surprise when they learn their dog or cat has developed a disease. In hindsight, they wish they’d had an opportunity to intervene before their pet’s health started to unravel. The A1CARE test is something that will hopefully gain acceptance among veterinarians as a way to help their clients routinely monitor their pet’s metabolic health.

Daniel Orrego of the Paws for Change Foundation believes the A1C test can help proactive pet parents identify when their pets are becoming insulin insensitive, months to years before disease symptoms begin to show up. Simple and inexpensive metabolic testing is one of the best ways functional medicine doctors help patients maintain well-being throughout life, as lifestyle changes can be instituted long before disease actually occurs. Wellness medicine at its best!

Under Development: An A1C-Like Saliva Test for Pet Parents

I asked Gus if Baycom has plans to develop additional metabolic tests.

“I’d love to make the A1C test available for pet owners to use at home,” he answered. “But I know that drawing blood from a pet isn’t always the easiest thing for people to do. Some have no problem with it, but I would say the majority struggle with it. On the horizon is a saliva A1C-like test. Pet owners will be able to swab their cat’s or dog’s mouth, send in the swab, and receive a week to two weeks’ average glucose level.

It’s really a preliminary test. It will never replace the A1C blood test, but it can show a sudden increase in the number. If you do the saliva test and it says your pet probably has elevated glucose levels, you know you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian for the A1C blood test to confirm the number and determine next steps.”

Finally, I asked Gus how pet parents and veterinarians can get more information about the A1CARE test. He suggests visiting BaycomDiagnostics.com, where you can find information in plain English and also some “really technical, heavy-duty stuff,” including dozens of peer-reviewed research papers. There’s also a sister site at A1CAREPets.com, which is designed more for the layperson.

Finally, you can text Baycom at 850-320-8545 and they can help you get access to the A1CARE test. I’m extremely excited about A1CARE and greatly appreciate Gus’ work and commitment to getting the test on the market. It’s a wonderful tool not only to monitor diabetic dogs and cats, but also the metabolic health of all pets.