Herbalist Judy Smith writes in to say how herbs and a healthy diet saved her dog’s life.
Our Chloe, a cock-a-poo, even at eleven years old, had the temperament of a puppy. Yet it was around this age and after moving several times, that we had noticed a change in her temperament and habits. Now, it seemed as if she always needed to go out to pee, was always drinking water and eating her food with voracity, and yet, was losing weight and vigor. Her lethargy got so bad that I feared the worst—some sort of toxin was poisoning her, or worse, she had cancer.
In two months’ time, she had lost 7 lbs. (20% of her body weight) and need to wear doggie diapers for urinary incontinence. Our veterinarian was at a loss for diagnosis and suggested we take her to the Veterinary Hospital. There, she was stabilized after 28 hours and we were given her diagnosis: “Your dog is diabetic”. I was relieved at this news as diabetes is a manageable condition.
Our vet had seen Chloe develop cataracts and associated them and Chloe’s weight gain with a potential to develop diabetes. Unfortunately, I had not taken this forecast warning seriously. Note to all pet owners: get your pet’s weight under control as they are subject to the same ailments as us, humans.
Today, 2.5 years later, Chloe is doing well with twice daily insulin injections. Herbs were selected with a focus on supporting digestion and immune system. For ease of delivery, these herbs are incorporated in her food. Her diet consists of my home made dog food that provides key nutrients that are well documented for effective management of type 2 diabetes (soluble fiber, chromium, B vitamins and choline).
DIGESTIVE AND IMMUNE ENHANCING FORMULA FOR DOGS
Barley provides an abundant source of mucilaginous soluble fiber that is important to modify glycemic index and glycemic load. Further, barley is an excellent source of the minerals chromium, magnesium and potassium.Chromium is vital in blood sugar control functions and is the key constituent in the glucose tolerance factor; it works closely with insulin in glucose uptake in cells. Likewise, magnesium improves insulin response and action. Potassium is essential in nerve conductivity, blood pressure control and general fluid homeostasis. The niacin (vitamin B3) and folate (vitamin B9) content of barley is also important in dietary management of vascular health in diabetes.
The celery and carrots included in Chloe’s food also provide soluble fiber and many important vitamins such as vitamins A, K, C, B9, and E. All of these vitamins, as antioxidants, support wound healing, tissue and vascular strength.
Choline is another essential nutrient/vitamin in the dietary management of diabetes. Chicken (thighs) is a food with high amount of choline. Choline is helpful in many metabolic functions in the liver, nerve and lung tissues. It is often given to manage chronic hepatitis, fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. The chicken also provides lean protein and collagen (chondroitin sulfate).
My selection of herbs for Chloe’s food was borne out of convenience and has its roots in European herbal and culinary knowledge. The herbs focus on supporting digestion and immune system and include the following: basil, parsley, summer savory, rosemary, thyme, lavender and bay leaf. You are correct if your recognized this blend as the classic Herbs de Provence (+ bay). While each of these herbs has individual merits there is overlap in their actions that are desirable for a diabetic dog. The actions are as follows: digestive, carminative, antiseptic, vermifuge, appetite stimulant, nutritive and aid in the assimilation of nutrients.
Judith Fox Smith, MS, is the founder of Foxsmyth Herbal, in Stoneham, MA. Judy is a biological research scientist and clinical herbalist. She is the founder and past president of the Eastern PA chapter of American Herbalist Guild, the Herb Gatherers of Lansdale, PA and past Vice President of San Antonio Herb Society. She combines her knowledge of biology and botany with her passion to provide practical herbal and lifestyle recommendations for a holistic balance in today’s techno-driven world.