Diabetes is a disorder where the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels. Although we normally associate diabetes as a human disease, our canine (and feline) companions are also affected by its devastating effects. Caring for a dog with diabetes can be extremely challenging, but natural alternatives can be used to support insulin therapy. In some instances, natural alternatives can be used on their own to stabilize blood sugar and improve insulin production.

Although all dogs can get diabetes, there seems to be a higher incidence in Beagles, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers and Poodles. Left untreated, canine diabetes can lead to blindness, liver, kidney and heart disease, coma, and death.

Symptoms to look for are excessive appetite and thirst, excessive urination, weight loss, and lethargy. When the disease is in its advanced stages, it can result in blindness, loss of appetite, vomiting, and depression.

There are two types of canine diabetes. The first and most common type is diabetes mellitus, quite similar to its human counterpart. Diabetes mellitus is caused by a deficiency in insulin. It can be congenital, similar to type I juvenile diabetes, or the acquired type, similar to type II diabetes in adults. The second type is diabetes insipidus. This type of diabetes is caused by a lack of the antidiuretic hormone that plays an important role in elimination of urine by the kidneys.

Diet is very important in addressing canine diabetes. Most commercial dog foods contain grains, carbohydrates, sugars, and other fillers. Therefore, it is recommended that a diabetic dog be fed a raw or homemade diet, where the owner can keep track of the sugar and carbohydrate intake. A diabetic dog's diet should consist of protein, fibre, and complex carbohydrates.

The proper diet and natural remediescan be effective in controlling milder forms of diabetes. However, switching to a proper diet and using natural remedies to support insulin can sometimes lead to the decreased use or elimination of insulin. A beneficial diet is one that consists of mostly raw meats and some vegetables, fruits, and even eggs. Sardines contain fatty acids which can add additional protection.

It is important to feed diabetic dogs two to three times a day. This helps to control the rise and fall of blood sugar throughout the day and prevents it from falling to dangerously low levels between feedings.

Some supplements help stabilize glucose levels. Among them are:

*Chromium, which balances glucose and cholesterol levels. It also reduces the risk of heart disease.
*Vitamin C prevents cataracts, protects the kidneys, and controls blood sugar. Vitamin C is also instrumental in strengthening the immune system.
*Vitamin E reduces the need for insulin, controls blood sugar levels, improves insulin action, and prevents oxidative stress, thereby strengthening the immune system.
*Magnesium guards against high urinary loss and a magnesium deficiency could lead to retinal damage and heart disease.
*Vitamin B-6 prevents neuropathy.
*Zinc lessens the effects of diabetes.
*Raw apple cider vinegar in your pet's water bowl is also very effective in controlling diabetes symptoms.

It is important for a diabetic dog to have daily exercise at the same time each day. The exercise should not be too strenuous, but should adapt to the dog's temperament, age, and health. The dog should be comfortable doing exercise without having to pant.

If you suspect your dog has diabetes, seek the advice of a professional. It would be best to seek the advice of a holistic vet who can address your dog's needs focusing on proper nutrition and supplements. In some instances, insulin may not be necessary.


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