Diabetes In Cats Is Up 16% Over Four Years
A Banfield Pet Hospital study shows that diabetes in cats is up 16% over four years from 2006 to 2010 and the increased incidence is likely to be as a result of lifestyle with obesity and inactivity both being contributory factors. This is something that I have spoken about before at length.
Lori A. Wise, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, is a partner with Wheat Ridge Veterinary Specialists in Wheat Ridge, Colo. has special interests in diabetes mellitus and renal disease. She recently spoke to DVM Newsmagazine on this very point.
“There is a subjective feeling that we are seeing more cases of diabetes in dogs and cats, and it could likely be an increased incidence related to lifestyle. There are probably more sedentary/indoor cats that are overweight and of an older age. Obesity and inactivity are all risk factors for diabetes in cats. That is probably a relationship indicator for diabetes in cats. This trend also follows the incidence of diabetes in people.
One important concept is that obesity leads to insulin resistance. Sometimes these diabetic patients are also on weight-control diets. Those diets tend to be higher in carbohydrates. Years ago, we used to think that if you had a diabetic cat, the thing to do would be to put them on a weight-control diet. In fact, it was the exact wrong thing to do and opposite of what we need to do for these cats.
We know now that low-carbohydrate diets are more advantageous for diabetic cats, and the weight-control diets happen to be high-carbohydrate diets. So, when we look at the percentage of carbohydrates in the diet for a diabetic cat, we try to keep it at 8 to 10 percent carbohydrates. Keep in mind that some of the weight-control diets are in the 27 to 28 percent range for carbohydrates.
A hot topic that I am interested in listening to at internal medicine meetings is the debate about whether all cats should be on low-carbohydrate diets from the start. The jury is out, and I don’t think we have strong evidence to say that all cats need to be on low-carbohydrate diets. But when they are diagnosed with diabetes, it is an important factor to try to regulate their diabetes.
To get a cat into diabetic remission, I think one very important factor is having them on a low-carbohydrate diet. There are two camps in regard to prevention of diabetes. I don’t think the low-carbohydrate diet is universally thought to be a preventive measure, but weight control is for sure. That’s also a challenge when you have an indoor cat on a very palatable diet. You have to control their intake and increase their activity. It’s hard because most people want to feed their cats free choice. It’s convenient, and many cats won’t stay active enough indoors to control their weight if they are fed free choice. “
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She makes some interesting points and things that I go along with are that a high carbohydrate diet and obesity are two factors that can explain why diabetes in cats is up 16% over four years. In addition she makes interesting comments regarding remission and reversal of cat diabetes, something that conventional thinking says is not possible!