November happens to be pet diabetes awareness month. To some of you, the fact that dogs and cats can suffer from diabetes may come as a surprise. As a matter of fact, we are seeing a drastic rise in diabetes with our domesticated pets. It is estimate that 1 in every 200 cats and 1 in every 400 dogs will get diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime. If you are one of our owners giving injections twice daily, you are most definitely not alone! There is even evidence that these numbers continue to rise almost at the same rate as the human epidemic. What could be causing these numbers to rise? One of the biggest health concerns facing our furry companions today is obesity and nutrition.
Obesity is known as a silent epidemic that is affecting our pets at an alarming rate. At this time, over 75% of patients that enter veterinary hospitals are considered overweight. This excess weight can lead to diseases and complications such as diabetes, arthritis, heart and vascular issues, and an overall decreased life span.
FAQs about Nutrition:
These are the questions and concerns most often heard from pet owners regarding weight and veterinary nutrition
1.) What about no by-products grain free diet?
By-products are actually the most nutrient-rich portion of the animal. By-products include liver and kidney portions. While we as humans may not like the idea of these products, they actually contain less calories on average, more protein (up to 10x more!), and more vitamins and minerals. When a company uses any material other than the meat, it is listed as ‘by-product.’ Recent marketing might tell us this is a negative concept, but it is actually a very healthy choice.
Grain-free is also a new hot topic in veterinary nutrition for many veterinary owners. Everywhere we go we are seeing signs of gluten free and grain free, so it must be better, right? Not necessarily. Gluten is generally used as a protein source and is not a filler. Grains are not generally the enemy with allergies or even intestinal upset. Few dogs have shown an allergy to wheat, but no evidence has been seen that link it to other grains. Corn has often been touted as having a nutrition deficit, but it is usually the first choice because the kernel of yellow corn contains 36 grams of protein and over 2743 IU of Vitamin A! Also, keep in mind that dogs and wolves are genetically different for their nutritional needs due to domestication. Wolves also ingest fiber sources through the intestines of their meal.
2.) Why would I want to use a veterinary specific diet over a regular over-the-counter diet or even feed less?
Veterinary weight loss diets allow you to feed a larger amount to get better results. This may sound strange, but one of the biggest factors leading to the lack of success in weight loss in pets has to do with their discomfort, vocalization, and requesting food from owners. The majority of these foods are formulated to have higher fiber and higher protein in general. This allows your pet to feel fuller LONGER. While it may seem that the cost could be a deterrent, a recent study in a veterinary journal states that weight loss food is cost neutral. This means the amount of money you spend on the food is the same as what you would spend addressing obesity related events that would occur secondary to carrying excess weight! (German 2015 JSP 56(6):366)
3.)Just a few treats aren’t THAT bad, right?!
The right treats aren’t that bad at all! However, the treats we generally feed are notorious for being the major culprit for leading to obesity. A small milkbone doesn’t look like it can be that suspicious, it can be loaded with calories. The diet plan can also help you save money on treats! Use items such as cauliflower, green beans, zucchini (chopped), and broccoli for treats. Many people would be surprised with how much their pets, even cats, can like these items once you find the right one!
4.) How much weight SHOULD my pet lose?
Each pet is different and an ideal body weight should be calculated by your veterinarian. However, the ideal weight loss in a dog is 1-2% per week in a dog or 0.5 – 1% in a cat.
5.) Any other tricks?
Food toys and food puzzles! These little tools increase exercise, stimulate the mind, increase movement, and lets your pet have fun! There are many types of these out there including KONG Wobbler, Seek A Treat, Buster FoodCube, Twist ‘n treat, Trixie Mad Scientist Cat, and PetSafe SlimCat to name a few!
Is your pet at risk for diabetes?