My dog, Amber, is 15 years old now.  We got her as a puppy for our son when he was 8.  We felt that was a good age for our son to have his first dog to care for.  Having had several dogs while I was growing up, I raised our dog like mine were raised by my parents.  We fed them typical dry dog food and sometimes canned dog food but it wasn’t the kind of high-quality dog food we have out on the market today.  Back then I’m sure we wouldn’t have even given them the highest quality food because we didn’t know what we know today.  And then there were the table scraps.  We always fed our family dogs table scraps (didn’t everyone do that back then?).  So that’s what we did for Amber … some Sundays, she even got bacon grease on her dry food.  She LOVED her Sunday breakfasts.

Two years ago, Amber was diagnosed first with pancreatitis and then diabetes.  After doing some research and speaking to the Vet about how she developed this disease, we discovered that she got it the same way humans do … poor diet.  So that set my husband on a quest to figure out what was so poor about her diet.  It turns out EVERYTHING … the dry dog food was filled with additives, by-products, and grains that are not good for consumption.  Dogs are carnivores which means they survive on meat (not by-products which can mean ground up poultry parts and grains).   And then add to that the dinner scraps (which sometimes contained the grease drippings and sauces our foods were cooked in) and you have a recipe for bringing on diabetes.

That’s when it ‘hit home’ for me … food has the ability to create health or create disease … for dogs and for humans.  So my life’s work two years ago became focused on how to feed my dog food that would heal her.

We started by dutifully following the advice of our Vet and fed her Hill’s Science Diet, the #1 Veterinarian Recommended dog food.  I figured if my Vet was recommending it, it must be good food.  But Amber’s blood glucose numbers were extremely high and we had great difficulty getting those numbers to come down.  The Vet suggested that we increase her insulin and so we did … about 6 times over the course of 2 months.  Amber wasn’t getting better, she was losing weight and looking so unhealthy.  So my husband again researched what ingredients were in her high-quality dog food and, even though it had better ingredients in it, the first two were listed as “Brown Rice, Brewers Rice” which indicated to us that this was a carb-rich food.  By the way, did you know that pet food labeling does not provide us with the carb calculations?  According to Coast & Range, “Dogs have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates, yet dog food is loaded with carbs because they are cheap fillers. Carbohydrates, especially starchy carbs, have been linked to health problems in dogs (like obesity and diabetes). Unlike in human food, pet food companies aren’t required to disclose the carbohydrate levels in their foods.”  Once we did the calculations, our Hill’s Science Diet dog food had a carb ratio of 54%!  No wonder Amber wasn’t getting better, her body was fighting to heal from the very problematic foods a human diabetic would be told to stay off of in order to get better.

So why would a highly trained professional not know this information?  Well, I found it is because Veterinarians are not trained in nutrition (just like our medically trained doctors are not).  And I also found out that big pet food companies influence Vet students while they are in school and convince them to sell their products (and Veterinarians may even receive kick-backs for the food they sell).

If you find that your fur baby dog has developed diabetes, do yourself a favor and join Facebook groups that specialize in canine or feline diabetes.  It will save your pet’s life.  I learned so much about canine diabetes in these groups that were run by experienced Vets who have/had diabetic pets of their own.  They took their medical training knowledge, paired it with nutrition that they learned outside of Vet school training, and joined forces with other pet owners who are passionate about giving our diabetic sugar babies the quality of life they deserve.  I learned to trust my intuition that their advice made more sense than the advice of my own Vet.

After lots of experimenting with foods, both store-bought and homemade, it turns out that my sugar baby loves home cooked meals so this mama whips up a batch of ground turkey and vegetable stew every 3 days to give my dog the nutrition and pleasure she so deserves.  We also supplement with a vitamin chew daily to supplement what might be lacking in her meals.

Below is my latest recipe that Amber loves.  * Disclaimer: this recipe has not been analyzed for nutritional value by any diabetic nutritionist.  My goal was to find a way to feed her whole foods that would heal her body, help her gain weight, build her strength and prolong her life with quality living.  I believe we have achieved that.

Turkey and Vegetable Stew

3 lbs ground turkey, lean

6 oz frozen chopped collard greens

7.5 oz (1/2 can) 100% pure pumpkin

4 oz beef liver

1 ½ cups no sodium chicken stock *

2 cans Nulo Freestyle Salmon & Chickpea, canned dog food

Add all ingredients to a crockpot except the Nulo canned food, cook on high for up to 3 hours.  Chop and mix occasionally to break up the ground turkey.

Once the stew is cooked and blended, turn off the crockpot and let cool.  Add the 2 cans of Nulo Freestyle to the mix.  (At one time, Amber liked eating this canned food but once she rejected it, I didn’t want to waste it so I now add it to her stew and she loves it again).

* Ideally I would use bone broth as it is rich in minerals that support the immune system and contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine, and proline. The collagen in bone broth heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation.

Just as a cautious warning from ASPCAPoison Control Center, please never feed your pet the following ingredients; they have the potential to be poisonous to their systems:

  • onions
  • garlic
  • chives
  • chocolate
  • raisins
  • grapes
  • xylitol
  • avocado
  • coffee, tea (caffeine)
  • nuts
  • alcohol
  • citris
  • coconut and coconut oil
  • yeast dough

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