By Dr. Andrew Jones
Cat diabetes is increasingly being diagnosed, and currently it affects more than 1 in 400 cats. Diabetes is very treatable, and does not need to shorten your cat’s life span. This article will go over the signs of diabetes in cats, along with the various suspected causes. I will review the most common solutions, focusing on the lesser know natural solutions that you can use to treat your cat for diabetes at home.
Most pet owner’s first suspect that their cat has diabetes as their cat is drinking and urinating much more than normal. This may be accompanied by increased appetite, but also weight loss. Occasional there is noticeable leg weakness, or dropping down on the rear legs. Some people notice a sweet smell to the breath. If not noticed early, your cat may become very ill with a condition called Ketoacidosis. This requires immediate veterinary treatment.
Diabetes is a result of the pancreas not producing enough insulin to allow the body to utilize blood glucose (sugar). This results in high blood sugar levels causing increased drinking and urination. Some cats are genetically at risk of developing diabetes. Cats that are obese typically are on a high carbohydrate dry cat food, are at higher risk.
If you suspect your pet is diabetic, have this confirmed by your veterinarian. Most cats begin with insulin, but with some diet alterations may come off insulin therapy. Ask your veterinarian about Glargine (brand name Lantus) Insulin – it is longer acting and better at regulating difficult to better at regulating difficult to regulate diabetic cats. The insulin injections can be given at home, and at the same time each day. Your veterinarian will show you how to give injections – they are not painful and usually not even noticed. The proper type of insulin, dose, and frequency of administration needs to be determined by your veterinarian.
If your cat is to have low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), you’ll need to be able to recognize it, and respond quickly. This usually happens within an hour of giving the insulin injection. Your cat will be weak, trembling, dazed and may begin to shake or seizure. If you suspect this, immediately give a sugar boost. Have corn or maple syrup on hand and give 1-2 tablespoons. Rub it on the gums if he cannot swallow, then take him to your veterinarian immediately.
Recent studies have shown that cats benefit greatly from higher protein, lower carbohydrate diets. These resemble diets that they would eat in the wild. Changing to a less than 5% carbohydrate, high protein canned food is the single most important change to make. Eliminate the dry kibble, and only feed canned. Some commercial diets in this category include: Wellness Chicken or Turkey; Fancy Feast Chunky Chicken or Chunky Turkey; Nature’s Variety Organic, and raw, frozen diets. This gives your cat the greatest chance to come off of Insulin Therapy. I am finding that we can control diabetes in about 50% of diabetic cats by only feeding a higher protein canned food. One big additional point is that a change to a high protein canned food often means you’ll need to lower insulin doses to avoid hypoglycemia ( low blood sugar). Discuss this with your veterinarian.
Chromium is a supplement that makes the cells more receptive to taking up blood glucose (sugar). It may help to lower the dose of insulin. The dose is 25 mg per 10 lbs of body weight daily.
Diabetes affects the other cells in the body, damaging tissue and organ cells. Antioxidants limit this damage. Vitamin E (100 IU per 10 lbs twice daily) and Vitamin C (100 mg per 10 lbs twice daily) are two common antioxidants I would suggest.
One increasingly effective supplement helpful in treating cat diabetes is fish oil. It is a source of omega 3 fatty acids, and fish oil may increase insulin sensitivity. A feline dose is one regular strength capsule per 10 lbs of body weight given once daily. This equates to 1000mg of fish oil daily.
Cinnamon is a tasty spice has been shown to help regulate blood sugar- it is also a potent antioxidant. The active ingredient is called MHCP which mimics insulin to improve blood sugar regulation. The dose is ¼ of a teaspoon per 10 lbs daily.
You should now be able to recognize the signs of cat diabetes, and know what to do if your cat is showing these symptoms. You’ll now have an understanding of what causes diabetes in cats, and be able to take some proactive steps in preventing it in your cat. Most importantly you can now use a few of the holistic solutions to decrease and potential stop your cat from needing daily injections of insulin.
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