Did you know that an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the US are overweight or obese? It's an alarming statistic, and as obesity rates rise, our pets are becoming more and more susceptible to a wide range of illnesses and diseases.
One of the diseases linked with the rise in obesity in pets is diabetes mellitus, a condition that occurs when the body cannot process glucose (a type of sugar) normally.
Banfield Pet Hospital's State of Pet Health 2016 Report exposes the true extent of the problem. Medical data from 2.5 million dogs and 500,000 cats was analyzed, and 2016 figures show that there has been a 79.7 percent increase in dogs with diabetes between 2006 and 2015. In cats, the prevalence of diabetes has increased 18.1 percent over the same time period.
Clearly, diabetes is a modern-day epidemic that affects pets as well as people. In today's post we'll take a look at the causes, signs, diagnosis, and treatment of diabetes in pets. We'll also explore recent scientific research that links coconut oil with prevention of the disease and a reduction in its symptoms. Finally, we'll share some quick tips to help you prevent your pet from developing diabetes.
Causes of Diabetes
As we mentioned earlier, the root cause of diabetes is the body's inability to process glucose properly. Glucose is the main source of energy for cells in the body, and levels of glucose in the bloodstream are regulated by a hormone called insulin that's manufactured by beta cells in the pancreas.
Diabetes mellitus is classified as Type I or Type II. Type I is known as insulin dependent diabetes, it's caused by a total or near-total destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in an animal's pancreas. Without insulin, the cells of the body become starved as nutrients are unable to enter them.
Type II diabetes is known as non-insulin dependent diabetes. This type of diabetes occurs when the body cannot respond normally to the amount of insulin manufactured by the pancreas. With Type II diabetes, there may be adequate insulin production, but the cells of the body cannot use the nutrients they receive properly.
Risk factors for diabetes include genetics, autoimmune disease, obesity, and other underlying medical conditions. Long-term use of medications such as steroids can also induce diabetes in pets.
Thankfully, Type I diabetes – the most dangerous kind – is relatively rare in pets. But Type II diabetes is becoming increasingly common in middle-aged and senior pets due to factors such as high carbohydrate diets, lack of exercise, and over-vaccination.
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes
Left untreated, diabetes can cause complicated health problems – some of which can be potentially life threatening. That's why it's so important to recognize the early signs and symptoms of the disease.
If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms, take your pet to be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment greatly increases the chance of managing the disease effectively.
- Increased urination
- Drinking water more frequently
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Cataracts (especially in dogs)
- Urinary tract infections
Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetes
Diagnosis of diabetes in pets is fairly straightforward. First, your veterinarian will test your pet's blood and urine for elevated levels of glucose. Additional blood tests are sometimes run to rule out other medical conditions, especially in older pets.
Your veterinarian may also recommend tests such as a urine culture, thyroid testing, or X-rays to get a more complete picture of your pet's overall health.
If a diagnosis of diabetes is confirmed, successful treatment typically involves regular blood and urine examinations, a carefully controlled diet, insulin injections or oral glucose-regulating drugs, and ongoing monitoring of your pet's health.
How Coconut Oil Can Help Manage Diabetes
Here at CocoTherapy, we're often asked if it's safe for diabetic pets to eat coconut oil. To answer that question, here's a short quote from Dr. Bruce Fife C.N., N.D., taken from his book Coconut Therapy for Pets:
"[The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil] can help moderate sugar release and thus help balance blood sugar levels, which can ease symptoms associated with diabetes."
But that's not all. The MCFAs in coconut oil can supply much-needed energy to cells without adversely affecting blood sugar or insulin levels. Coconut oil also helps supply energy to cells because it's easily absorbed without the need of pancreatic lipid enzymes or insulin. It has also been shown to improve insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
In addition, coconut oil puts less of a demand on the digestive enzyme production of the pancreas, reducing stress on the organ and allowing it to function more effectively during mealtimes when insulin is produced most heavily.
In order to enjoy the health benefits of coconut oil, remember to choose a high quality, therapeutic-grade oil such as CocoTherapy coconut oil. Our oil is sourced from our USDA-certified organic family farm in the Philippines, and carefully manufactured in our own facility.
Always feed your pet coconut oil in moderation as part of a balanced, species-appropriate diet and keep in mind that coconut oil should never replace any medication given to your pet by your veterinarian.
Now for the really good news. According to Dr. Karen Becker, DVM., NMD., most cases of diabetes in pets are entirely preventable.
Recent research has also shown that a diet rich in medium-chain fatty acids such as coconut oil may help prevent obesity and fight insulin resistance – both of which are risk factors for Type II diabetes.
To finish up today's post, here are some quick tips to help you reduce the risk of your pet developing diabetes:
- Feed a balanced, species-appropriate diet
- Exercise your pet daily
- Avoid over-vaccination by having your pet titer tested
- Schedule regular health screenings with your veterinarian
- Provide plenty of fresh, clean drinking water
- Supplement your pet's diet with CocoTherapy therapeutic-grade coconut oil
Thanks for reading! Please visit our website to find out more about the amazing health benefits of CocoTherapy therapeutic-grade coconut oil.