DEAR DR. FOX: Even though I know you advocate feeding pets -- especially diabetic ones -- homemade food, I wonder if you'd consider this question.
My geriatric cat has been insulin-dependent for 5 1/2 years. I started him on Fancy Feast Classics, but I got shamed into changing him to Hills m/d. This summer, I ventured back to Fancy Feast since he likes it so much better. Suddenly, his blood sugar dropped like a rock. On a schedule of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. insulin glargine injections, his glucose would be 70 to 100 at 1 or 2 a.m. -- unusual behavior caused me to get up and test.
In your opinion, could m/d have been keeping his blood glucose elevated? If I were to cook his food myself, what would I give him? -- M.J., Cheyenne, Wyoming
DEAR M.J.: As I repeatedly stress in this column, avoid feeding cats high-carbohydrate treats, as well as regular cat foods. I invited veterinarian Greg Martinez (visit dogdishdiet.com) to offer his opinion since I am impressed with his nutrition-first approach to companion animal health issues, which I have long advocated -- and now I feel less alone professionally!
"Diabetes in cats is thought to be caused by too many calories in the diet and too little activity. Overweight, sedentary cats develop Type 2 diabetes, which is the insulin-resistant type also seen in people. A diet with fewer calories per ounce, less fat and fewer carbohydrates will obviously have more protein, just the mix of ingredients that cats evolved to eat (moist rodents or other prey). That same mix of ingredients will also help cats lose weight and regulate their blood sugar. Hill's m/d diet is formulated to have fewer carbohydrates and less fat than other cat foods, but it still may have too many simple carbohydrates for some cats. Fancy Feast Classics worked so well is that the ingredients are also high protein, low fat, high moisture and lower calorie ones. It could be that your cat does not tolerate the cornstarch in the m/d, which may elevate his blood glucose more than the type of carbohydrate in Fancy Feast Classics (the only listed is guar gum, which is a soluble fiber known to help with regulating the blood sugar). Individual cats may just do well with different ingredients, and it sounds like Fancy Feast agrees with your cat, where Hills m/d doesn't. You may try asking your local pet store for a grain-free quality canned cat food with a similar high-protein, low-carbohydrate, medium-fat mixture.
"If you are going to make your own cat food, veterinarian Lisa Pierson has lots of good info on cooking for your cat: Access 'Making Cat Food by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM' at catinfo.org/?link=makingcatfood. The basic recipe calls for 90 percent low-fat meat and keeps the carbohydrate level at less than 10 percent. This high-protein diet is not appropriate for cats with kidney issues."
I would urge against feeding animals carrageenan, which can be found in the Hill's prescription cat food. Read more at my website, DrFoxVet.net.
DEAR DR. FOX: I read your column regarding German shepherd dogs and waiting to spay until after a year because of an issue with their bone health -- I think. I gave the article to my daughter, who has a 5-month-old rescue German shepherd. Now I'm reading about how important it is to spay female dogs before the first heat cycle to help prevent mammary gland cancer.
What is the best way to go in this case? My daughter was going to wait until her dog was a year old, but has changed her mind to have it done at 6 months of age, which is in a month. -- K.K., Fargo, North Dakota
DEAR K.K.: It is a long-held view that spaying dogs before their first heat will help prevent mammary gland cancer. While this is generally true, there are several other health issues that can arise following early removal of the ovaries and which, in the final analysis, negate the benefits of early neutering. So my advice is to wait until the dog is closer to maturity -- around 2 -- before having the operation.
Some veterinarians now leave the ovaries intact to prevent the hormonal deficiencies and imbalances associated with the adverse consequences of a complete ovariohysterectomy. This topic is controversial, and more clinical studies and long-term evaluations of various breeds and the risk-to-benefit ratios of complete or partial removal of the reproductive organs are called for. This may contradict animal shelter policy of neutering all animals prior to adoption, especially in areas where there are too many animals multiplying in the community and adopters cannot be trusted to prevent their animals from reproducing by keeping intact females restrained when in heat.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)