By Jean Hofve, DVM
Has your cat been diagnosed with diabetes? Are you looking for the most accurate and up-to-date information on this condition in cats? Are you interested in alternative treatments? Do you want to know how to prevent the disease from developing?
The following information is excerpted from my ebook, Feline Diabetes: Your Comprehensive Guide from a Holistic Veterinarian.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic health condition, in which the pancreas does not secrete enough insulin, and/or the body becomes resistant to insulin, causing blood glucose to rise to high levels.
Insulin is a small hormone produced by “beta” cells in specific areas of the pancreas called “islets of Langerhans.” (Other parts of the pancreas produce bicarbonate and digestive enzymes.)
What causes diabetes?
There are many known and speculated causes of diabetes. Genetics plays at least some role in the development of the disease. Obesity can set up ideal conditions for diabetes to occur. Inflammation, whether of the pancreas itself (pancreatitis) or elsewhere in the body, appears to have a significant influence. Certain commonly used drugs can cause diabetes. The immune system, and proteins such as amyloid and leptin, have also been implicated. Research suggests that vaccination may contribute to the problem. However, of all the potential causes, diet stands out as the primary player. High-carbohydrate dry cat foods are, if not the cause, at least the trigger that produces diabetes in most cats.
How is diabetes treated?
There are several accepted conventional treatments for feline diabetes:
- Oral Hypoglycemic Drugs
- High Protein, Low Carbohydrate Diet
There are also a number of herbal and nutritional supplements that may be helpful for diabetic cats:
- Diaplex (by Standard Process)
- Cataplex GTF (by Standard Process)
- Gamma Linolenic Acid
- Vitamin B6
- Milk Thistle
- Omega-3 fatty acids
What are the complications of diabetes?
Treating diabetes is not easy, and complications can develop. The most common is hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) from too much insulin. This usually happens when the cat is not eating or is vomiting, but still gets a full dose of insulin. Without food to provide enough glucose, the cat’s blood sugar can drop to such low levels that they can have seizures or even die. But not giving enough insulin can cause problems as well; poorly regulated diabetic cats can develop ketoacidosis, a life-threatening emergency. Muscle and nerve problems can also occur over time.
How do I monitor my diabetic cat?
There are urine test strips and home blood testing monitors that can greatly assist you in tracking the effectiveness of treatment.
Decisions you make now can have significant implications for your cat’s health. If you have other cats in your home, or a new cat is in your future, you need to know how to prevent diabetes from ever developing.
Be sure to visit http://www.felinediabetes.com/ and join their forum. You’ll be glad you did!