Millions of people suffer from diabetes but it is also very common in dogs and cats. If managed properly, these animals can continue to live happy lives despite having diabetes.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the pancreas’ ability to secrete the proper amount of insulin necessary to control blood sugar. Hence the animal can become hyperglycemic (high blood sugar). It is thought that diabetes in animals is usually hereditary.
Some symptoms to look out for in your pet are severe weight loss or gain, changes in appetite, excessive drinking, frequent urination, dehydration, lethargy, cataracts in dogs and muscle weakness in cats. In uncontrolled diabetes, the dog or cat may become ketotic, using fat to produce energy. If so, additional symptoms include breath that smells like acetone or nail polish remover, vomiting, weakness, rapid breathing, and eventually a diabetic coma.
A proper diagnosis by a veterinarian and a course of treatment are necessary to manage the disease. In addition to insulin therapy and change in diet, many pet owners are turning to natural approaches to supplement their pet’s health since insulin can have negative side effects.
Some herbs have been found to be very effective in treating or supplementing therapy for diabetes; notably, fenugreek, bittermelon, turmeric, and gymnema. While none of these are stand-alone treatments, in combination with each other and with a healthy diet and doctor’s diagnosis, these alternative remedies can help alleviate many of the negative effects of diabetes.
Fenugreek has been used for thousands of years in many cultures, ranging from Greek to Chinese, for its medicinal properties. Research shows that fenugreek has anti-diabetic properties, namely amino acids that produce an effect similar to insulin. A recent trial found fenugreek to improve control of glucose levels and lower resistance to insulin.
Bittermelon is a vegetable rich in minerals and fiber. Because of characteristics that can improve insulin production it has also been used as herbal medicine in many cultures. It can help regulate blood sugar levels and some studies show very strong hypoglycemic effects.
Best known for use in curries and yellow mustard, turmeric has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic characteristics. A study done at Columbia University found that turmeric might reverse the metabolic and inflammatory problems linked with obesity and increase control of blood sugar levels.
Gymnema is known in ayurvedic medicine as the ”sugar killer” because it dulls the taste of sugar. The acids in this herb appear to lower the amount of sugar taken in from food so that glucose levels do not spike after eating. Moreover, it may even encourage insulin production and increase responsiveness to the insulin that is available.
With a proper course of action including a proper diagnosis, diet, and herbal supplements that include fenugreek, bittermelon, turmeric, and gymnema, your dog or cat’s diabetes can be managed. Combine that with lots of love and your pet can live a long happy life.