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Diabetes in Dogs – no matter the type

Old German Shepherd laying in grass looking into the distance

Did you know that dogs can get diabetes? So sad to think they do. And even sadder if you are the owner of a dog who has been diagnosed with diabetes and you are not sure how to deal with it – must you give him the typical conventional medicines for diabetes, or are there holistic natural ways you can help your beloved pet? Thankfully, there are healthy solutions for your companion and friend.

More about diabetes in dogs

Well, diabetes falls into the group of hormonal diseases where the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin anymore – or maybe there is an over-production of the hormone, glucagon.

Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, has the function of making carbs available to the beta cells of the pancreas for energy. When the insulin becomes insufficient, it can even be totally absent; then the sugar will accumulate in the bloodstream. That leaves the cells starved of energy because they are unable to make use of the carbohydrates directly.

Dr. Peter Dobias, a holistic veterinarian, says that insulin is like a fuel tank release cap in your car, and if the cap is not open, the car can’t get refueled and will eventually stop. There might be plenty of gas at the pump, but if the cap is not opened when you start to pump, all the gas will spill out and cause a fire as well as pollution. It’s the same with diabetes. You can compare the fire with that of diabetic ketoacidosis. The dog’s sugar-starved cells give the body a signal to burn fat so it can supply energy, but when the fat starts burning fast, it creates ketones. These are toxic byproducts that can cause a state of severe intoxication and which can have potentially life-threatening results.

Old white dog that is a little overweight

It is true to say that diabetes in dogs is rare; although over the years continues to rise – in both dogs and cats. The rise is thought to be correlated with more obesity, incorrect feeding, and a reduction in exercise. It is thought that dogs that eat non-processed diets, grain free foods, with cooked or raw meat and raw bones, veggies and some fruits are noted to be the ones where diabetes seems to be totally absent.

Many of the processed food companies appear not to have done their homework; they are not being honest with owners of dogs – they say that kibble is better than wholesome food. Can you believe that what they are saying in essence, is that nature is wrong! Holistic vets, based on their experience, will say that when you provide your dog with a balanced, wholesome diet as well as essential natural supplements, you eliminate the chances of diabetes almost entirely.

Inflammation and strain on the pancreas is probably the main reason for diabetes. A dog’s pancreas is designed to digest mostly meat and other proteins along with a small percentage of plant material. But these days’ people have moved away from feeding their dogs these true natural dog foods. They have started feeding them on the foods of the day, i.e. grain-based and processed foods, which all put major stress on the pancreas. When dogs eat high-carbohydrates, processed foods, the pancreas becomes inflamed and stressed. What does inflammation do? It leads to the destruction of the pancreatic beta cells we were talking about earlier and antibodies form which act against the pancreatic tissue.

How do you know your dog has diabetes?

Wolf looking dog sitting on a trail panting

The signs and symptoms are not that specific. But look out for these:

  • He seems to be drinking more than usual
  • He urinates more than usual
  • He is losing weight
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Cataracts
  • An increase in appetite

How is diabetes diagnosed?

It is important that you choose the right veterinarian when it comes to diabetes in a dog. A vet who is open to a natural approach to treating dogs and to nutrition will help you make the right choices when it comes to discussing processed foods, etc. But no matter what, a vet will test your dog for the presence of ketones and glucose concentrations. This diagnosis becomes definite when glucose shows up in the urine and in the blood.

The right diet and supplements

Bloodhound looking at the camera in the yard

When it comes to diabetes, most questions pet owners ask is around supplements and diet. The best way to feed a dog with diabetes is to offer a raw food diet which is so appropriate for dogs, one of meat, bones and predominantly leafy, green vegetables. Read here about commercial dog foods to avoid and which are suitable – always check with your vet, because there are some commercial dog foods that could get your dog sick or they are sick. Here are a couple of good principles to look at when feeding your dog from the raw food diet:

Avoid all rice and grain.

There is no kibble that is actually recommended even it is grain free – it’s not recommended for a dog with diabetes. Raw, dehydrated diets might be OK, but actually, it’s the raw or cooked diets that are the ideal ones to feed your dog – because there is not much of a difference in the results for raw and cooked diets. Feed your dog about 50-65% of raw or cooked meat, another 10-25% of raw bones and 25% of green, leafy vegetables – that’s if you want your furry friend to enjoy good health with many long and healthy years with you.

A diabetic dog should eat twice daily

Healthy, non-diabetic dogs should eat ideally once a day – then their digestive tract and glands are able to rest. But if your dog is diabetic, he should eat like twice daily and his insulin administered right after his meal. It is not suggested you feed your dog more than twice a day.

Avoid artificial supplements and vitamins

weimaraner on a trail next to dead brush

A lot of people don’t realize that heaps and heaps of supplements on the market are plain ordinary synthetic, made chemically. Believe it, there is a huge difference between naturally-sourced supplements and those that are made artificially. Thing is, artificial vitamins can resemble natural ones, and that plastic apple in the fruit bowl also looks like the real thing, doesn’t it? A dog’s body has limited abilities to regulate the fake synthetic stuff which can create severe imbalances in his body.

TOP groups of nutrients that your dog needs

  • Plant-based minerals and amino acids
  • Naturally cultured vitamins
  • Probiotics to look after digestion and immunity
  • Essential fatty acids oil, such as Omegas and Coconut oil (Remember to avoid fish oils that haven’t been tested for heavy metals and mercury)


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The ultimate treatment of reversing your dog’s diabetes to the point where no insulin is needed is not discovered yet, but the reality might be not as far off as we think. A study published in the Diabetes journal in Spain used gene therapy to put dogs into remission with type one diabetes. But we will have to wait and see - in the meantime, if you follow the above tips and ideas, etc. there is a good chance that your dog will be healthier and his or her diabetes will be easier to control and the insulin requirement will be lower. Yay!! …. And we can hear all the doggies going woof!

For More SitStay Works Check Out

Diabetes in dogs By Molly Boman

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