Diabetes in animals

Diabetes is not a death sentence. Here we breakdown five of the most common myths that surround this disease.

Leah, a rescued Siberian Husky, made frequent trips throughout the day to her water bowl. When she started asking to go out at 5:30 a.m. every morning, however, her guardian suspected something was wrong and took Leah to her veterinarian. A urine test and follow up blood work revealed she had diabetes.

Diabetes develops when the pancreas no longer produces adequate amounts of insulin. Without sufficient amounts of insulin, blood sugar cannot be released from the blood to reach your animal’s body tissues. Instead, it becomes trapped in the blood stream and spills over into the urine. Common symptoms of diabetes include a ravenous appetite, excessive thirst and urination coupled with weight loss.

There are two types of Diabetes: Type I Insulin dependent, which more often affects canines and can be hereditary, and Type II, which is often linked to obesity and can often be controlled by diet alone.

While diabetes can take its toll on your animal’s vision, kidneys and heart, and in some cases can prove fatal, many myths and propaganda surround this disease. In this article, we will reveal some truths about diabetes so you are empowered with “clinical wisdom” should it come your animal’s way.

Myth #1: Diabetes is incurable

This is just plain untrue. The pancreas, one of the more important glands of the body, can often be rejuvenated and coaxed back into proper function through such things as a high fiber natural diet, increased exercise and a correct balance of vitamins, minerals, nutraceuticals and herbs. Often, this occurs after your veterinarian brings the disease under control with insulin. Then, over a period of time, as the body responds to improved nutrition, your veterinarian can reduce the dosage, finally stopping he injections all together.

The ultimate trick to dealing with diabetes is to catch it early and treat it both holistically and clinically (medically) if necessary. While diabetes is primarily related to a weakened pancreas, it most often results from multiple gland weakness. The pituitary, thyroid and adrenal glands are also involved in sugar metabolism and many times accompany a weakened pancreas since these glands will often have their own weaknesses and imbalances. In diabetes it is essential to support and boost all of the glands. Ask your veterinarian to perform a metabolic analysis on your animal’s blood. This test will determine inherent gland weaknesses and imbalances, and also help determine the most individually appropriate nutraceuticals to help correct the deficiencies.

Myth #2: Diabetes is hereditary and you cannot prevent it

Untrue! Nothing exhausts a pancreas more than junk food. Yet today, many dogs and cats exist on just that — a processed diet that is high in refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates basically add up to a serving of sugar, as certain pet foods contain up to 25-35% refined carbohydrates in the form of white flour, milled rice and corn sweeteners. The rapid burning off of these carbohydrates results in a speedy elevation and depression of blood sugar levels, which can tire out the pancreas as it tries to meet the insulin needs in a rapidly changing environment. Instead, switch to a diet that contains complex carbohydrates (whole grains such as brown rice.)

Myth #3: Once on insulin, always on insulin

Good news – often an intelligent holistic program combined with appropriately dosed and monitored insulin (directed by your veterinarian) will help to control the condition and CAN eventually reduce the amounts of insulin or even totally eliminate any dependency on it. Your animal’s holistic program should include a well-balanced whole food high fiber diet, appropriately dosed vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and herbs, as well as an increased exercise program. Your veterinarian will also instruct you on how to closely monitor the blood levels of sugar by frequently checking the urine.

Please remember that injectable insulin, while essential in regulating the blood sugar levels, can actually trick the body into thinking that adequate levels are being produced, oftentimes affecting the body’s own production of insulin. When the pituitary detects adequate levels of insulin, it will actually tell the pancreas to slow production. Consequently, your animal’s body will become insulin dependent. So it’s important at this point to ignore the propaganda that your animal will need injections for the rest of his or her life. In fact, once your animal’s blood levels stabilize on injectable insulin, you should make it your goal to introduce a proper nutritional program to slowly replace injections. At this time, you may find the need to confer with both an alternatively interested and experienced veterinarian for support and guidance.

Myth #4: Sugar “highs” go with the territory and you can’t control them

Yes you can! In a pinch, if your animal is acting ravenously, serve him a bowel of freshly cooked oatmeal. Oats, along with green beans and sprouts, contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes that have insulin-like activity. Oats are also rich in beneficial fiber.

Myth #5: You will just have to live with frequent “accidents” in the house

Don’t buy into this grim prognosis. The serious side effects of excessive thirst and urination can often be temporary if you and your veterinarian can bring the diabetes under control. Initially, you can accomplish this with insulin injections. Simultaneously, the proper feeding and nourishment (vitamins, minerals, co-factors and antioxidants) of the pancreas and other important glands of the body will start the process of re-establishing gland balance and function. This, combined with an increased exercise program, will help to bring the condition under control and diminish all adverse symptoms associated with diabetes.

Specific supplements to consider

You can start your animal back (or keep him) on the road of good health with a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement. And, since high sugar levels thicken the blood, impeding both the transportation of nutrients as well as the removal of toxins and wastes, you can counteract this effect with a daily dose of vitamin E. Vitamin E increases circulation and helps reduce inflammation in the pancreas. Your animal can take the full daily dose of vitamin E at a single meal. Just pierce the capsule with the tip of a knife and squeeze the oil on to your animal’s food.

Once your animal is stable and her diet and medication are well-established, add chromium and goldenseal to the diet. Chromium picolinate has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels and lessen the secondary effects of diabetes. Break open a capsule in the appropriate dosage over your animal’s food. Also, the herb, goldenseal, can reduce the amount of insulin necessary to control blood sugar. Mix alcohol-free goldenseal tincture with 1-2 tsp. of water and administer twice daily.

Animal Size Vitamin E

(once daily)

Chromium Picolinate

(once daily)


(twice daily)

Cats & Dogs (up to 14 lbs.) 200 iu 25 mcg 5 drops
Dogs (15-34 lbs.) 400 iu 50 mcg 7 drops
Dogs (35-84 lbs.) 600 iu 100 mcg 10 drops
Dogs (85+ lbs.) 800 iu 200 mcg 12 drops

In addition to supplements, you may want to include the following in your animal’s diet:

  • Finely cut raw green beans or green pea sprouts, both of which contain enzymes that have insulin-like activity
  • Chopped parsley or other chlorophyll-rich supplements, which act as a blood cleanser
  • Garlic, which helps purify the intestines, and makes them more efficient
  • Flaxseed oil, which is rich in essential fatty acids, and for cats, cold water fish oil.

Diabetes is never a diagnosis you want to hear from your veterinarian. However, once you get past the gloomy myths surrounding this disease and arm yourself with some good holistic information and an open-minded practitioner, your animal’s outlook can actually be quite bright.