So my colleague Jenn at Sierra Veterinary Hospital bought in a big pink box of donuts the other day. As my co-workers stuffed their faces with the doughy sugar bombs, I said, "Jenn! You must hate us all! You are trying to give us all diabetes!"
Jenn adamantly denied any wrong-doing and claimed she loves us. But I'm not so sure!
Which go me thinking about this post I wrote a while back about diabetes in dogs and cats. So here it is again:
Diabetes is on my mind today after spending the weekend at Sierra Veterinary Hospital trying to help a very sick diabetic kitty. Then I watched Fed Up the movie. Have you seen it?
Yup so the USA (thanks to our food politics) is a world leader in creating diabetics, especially in our kids. Animals are highly at risk too. I diagnose at least 20 new diabetics per year.
When I see makers of insulin and diabetic pet food teaming up like this, for "diabetes awareness," my skin crawls. From the website: "Don’t worry if your pet is diagnosed with diabetes. With the appropriate medication, diet, and exercise, your pet can expect to live just as long as he or she would without diabetes. Talk to your veterinarian for more information."
Seriously?? Do they really think the pet owning public is this gullible? A good chunk of pets are euthanized upon diagnosis of diabetes because owners are unwilling or unable to give insulin. But don't worry.
How surprising that pets are following this human trend towards obesity and diabetes! Isn't it ironic that the pet food manufacturing process was developed based on human food manufacturing. Think puffed breakfast cereals and Cheetos. Both cereal, junk food, and pet food use a high heat extrusion process that makes carbohydrates very digestible, tasty, and convenient. The high sugar load of these foods can tax the body over time, some pets get fat, others may become diabetic. Bottom line: maybe pets are eating too much processed food and not enough REAL food. Maybe.
Obviously the diabetes epidemic, whether two or four-legged, is making these companies a lot of money. Just take our insulin and eat our food, but "don't worry!" All is well! Purina and Merck will save the day!
How about a dose of common sense nutritional advice all around? Michael Pollan has written several excellent books about food and nutrition which spans all species. Check out the Truth About Pet Food Blog, and catnutrition.org. Read Dog Food Logic, by Linda Case, and Fresh Food and Ancient Wisdom, by Ihor Basko.
Avoid box stores and shop at local and knowledgeable pet food vendors like DogDogCat. Talk to a veterinarian trained in holistic medicine, acupuncture, or nutrition. (In other words, if the extent of your vet's nutritional wisdom is to recommend Hill's Science Diet, ask another vet!).
Read labels and evaluate label claims with critical thinking skills. Do your own research and don't trust what your breeder, your neighbor, the kid at the pet food store, or even what your vet says, without digging a bit deeper.
Because diabetes is NOT trivial, and your pet will NOT like being diabetic. You will not like giving (and paying for) two injections of insulin a day and never being able to go on vacation or out after work again because of your diabetic pet. You will worry when your cat gets sick and needs a feeding tube and a week in the hospital. You will not like it when your dog develops diabetic cataracts and goes blind. If you are not worried about diabetes, you probably should be.