No Longer a Death Sentence for Your Dog

New research offers hope for controlling diabetes in dogs.

By | Posted: Wed May 24 00:00:00 PDT 2000

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Greg Sunvold, Ph.D., a research nutritionist at The lams Co., has studied the effects of fermentable vs. non-fermentable dietary fiber. "Fermentation of fiber in the intestines results in increased production of a valuable hormone called proglucagon," Sunvold said. "This hormone initiates a cascade of events that ultimately results in release of insulin from the pancreas in normal dogs."

Further study must bedo ne to see its possible effect on diabetic dogs. Sunvold also has studied how different carbohydrate sources in a dog's diet can affect its blood sugar levels after a meal. Some carbohydrates cause higher blood sugar levels than others. "Our findings show that rice caused the highest levels and barley and sorghum caused the lowest. Therefore, barley and sorghum would be preferable ingredients in the diet of a diabetic dog."

The trace mineral chromium, known to be important in normal glucose metabolism in humans, is found in some foods, such as brewer's yeast. Dietary deficiency of chromium can occur and, in diabetics, can make it harder for insulin to work. Jerry Spears, Ph.D., a professor of animal science and nutrition at North Carolina State University, initiated studies with chromium in dogs three years ago. He found chromium enhances insulin activity in dogs. No minimum daily requirement for chromium exists for dogs, but ongoing research may establish that chromium should be added to their food. Spears thinks it may even prove to help prevent diabetes if fed to young, predisposed dogs.

Pet-food companies already have developed prescription-only therapeutic diets for diabetic dogs, while continuing their studies:

  • Waltham's Canine High Fibre Diet combines soluble and insoluble fiber and complex carbohydrates; in a clinical trial at Glasgow University in Scotland, it reduced fluctuations in blood glucose in diabetic dogs.

  • Both Hill's Prescription Diets w/d and r/d have been found beneficial for diabetes management.

  • Eukanuba Veterinary Diet Restricted Calorie/Canine from Iams may help overweight diabetic dogs return to normal body weight, and the brand's Maximum Calorie/Canine, one of its Nutritional Stress/Weight Gain Formula diets, may help diabetic dogs that need to gain weight.

  • Ralston Purina has several ongoing research studies, including clinical trials, involving diet and diabetes in dogs, said Dottie Laflamme, DVM, Ph.D., a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and research fellow at Purina. Ralston Purina markets two diets for diabetic dogs: CNM-DCO Formula and CNM-OM Formula.

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