You can eat your way to health or illness – the choice is entirelyup to you. Sadly, your dog hasn’t got a choice. Spot eats what you feed him, so it’s up to you to make the right dietary decisions on his behalf. The bad news is that one in every400 dogs hasDiabetes, the disorder that prevents the body from regulating its blood sugar levels. But the good news is that Diabetes may be prevented by eatingthe rightdiet.
With so many dogs getting the Diabetes diagnosis, it’s becoming obvious that poor nutrition is a major culprit. To prevent Diabetes in your dog, feed a low glycemic index diet – it’s that simple. November isAmerican Diabetes Month,says the American Diabetes Association, so it’s high time to bone up on the components of aDiabetes-preventive dogdiet – especially if yourpet is a senior, oris on a restrictedexercise scheduledue to illness or surgery, as elderly and low-activity dogs arevery vulnerable to Diabetes.
Here’s what you definitely don’t want to be feeding your dog: Rice, white bread, and sweetened cereal – not even as a snack.They cause blood sugar levels to spike quickly, andrapid increases in blood sugar send signals to the pancreas to increase insulin secretion, which leads to a sharp dip in blood sugar (a.k.a. a blood-sugar low, or hypoglycemia). Over time, high glucose levels and excessive insulin secretion impair the pancreas’s ability to secrete insulin, and that leads to Diabetes.
After eating high glycemic index food, dogs (and humans) feel hungry again very soon after the meal – and this makes them want to eat more than their healthy portion. The vicious cycle begins:Dogs who eathigh glycemic index food,day in and day out,will wind upovereating. If they don’t, or can’t, do the necessary exercise to burn it off, they will(surprise!) gain weight, andobesity puts a huge strain on the body, overtaxing the heart and gallbladder.
Now look what happens when we – humans as well as canines -eat low glycemic index food: We experience lower but more sustained increases in blood sugar, which puts less stress on the pancreas. Because we feel more full, we’re not compelled to eat more food soon after a meal. In a word, we thrive. Eating low glycemic index food increases physical endurance, improves blood cholesterol levels, and reduces the risk of cardiovascular and gallbladder disease.
Dogs at highest risk of developing Diabetes are the oneswhose owners “free-feed” them a high glycemic index dry food. Leaving kibble out in the bowl for Spot to graze at all day is a bad idea. Doing so gives the dog all-day access to the very food that puts his health at risk – and he’ll help himself to multiple servings because (as we’ve seen) high glycemic index food leaves him feeling less than satisfied and leads tothe inevitable sugar crash.
Never feed your dog corn. It’s a sweet, starchy, high glycemic indexingredient that’s used as a fillerin many inexpensive pet foods – and it’s a big dietary no-no. Rice is another ingredient to avoidif you want to prevent Diabetes(that includes brown rice; just skipthis grainaltogether). Millet and sweet potatoeshave become popular pet-food ingredients, butthey’re high glycemic indextoo. And be careful of carb-loadedpitfalls at snack time: Please keep Spotaway from thebagels, bread,andcrackers(as well astheir sugary carb cousins:doughnuts, cookies,and cake).
The low glycemic index ingredients you want your dog eating are protein, healthy fat, and oil, plus non-starchy,low-carbohydrate vegetables such as yellow peas and broccoli. Happily, more and more pet food companies are making it easy to feed dogs a low glycemic index diet, to promote healthy weight management and help overweight dogs shed unwanted pounds. Look for brands – like Red Moon– that proudly proclaim their products aregrain-free. And celebrate AmericanDiabetes Month with your healthy dog.