Diabetes mellitus occurs when beta cells in the pancreas stop working properly. Either they don’t make enough insulin, or certain conditions interfere with the effectiveness of the insulin.
Without insulin, glucose cannot enter cells and circulates unused in the bloodstream. Glucose levels rise (hyperglycemia) and the body starves. Excess glucose ends up in the urine, drawing water with it and causing excessive urination and thirst.
The starving body tries to survive by eating more food and breaking down fat and muscle to form more glucose – but the glucose cannot be used. This results in weight loss, and can also cause life-threatening ketoacidosis if diabetes is not diagnosed early enough or is poorly controlled. The breakdown of fat results in the formation of ketones. If levels of ketones in the blood become extremely high, a potentially life-threatening ketoacidotic condition occurs.
One out of every 500 dogs, and one out of every 400 cats, is diabetic. Millions more are at risk due to obesity. Other risk factors include chronic systemic use of corticosteroids. Certain dog breeds are at higher risk, including miniature Schnauzers, miniature Pinschers, West Highland white terriers and Cairn terriers.
Diabetic patients typically require many trips to the veterinarian or internal medicine specialist, twice-daily insulin injections, proper dietary changes, exercise, and healthy weight maintenance. Certain supplements help replenish the antioxidants being used up at an accelerated rate:
• Astaxanthin: Protects beta cells from damage and reduces inflammation.
• Cinnamon: Acts similarly to insulin, and sensitizes cells to insulin, enhancing the uptake of glucose.
• Fenugreek seed: Slows cholesterol and carbohydrate digestion and absorption, and increases insulin release from beta cells.
• Alpha lipoic acid: Aids in energy production, has inhibitory effects on aldose reductase (the enzyme responsible for cataract formation in diabetes), and regenerates vitamins C and E and glutathione to their active reduced states.