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Dr. Elliott: Glycemic Levels in Dogs and Cats - Fact or Fiction?

Important information about your pet's nutrition

Dr. Elliott: Glycemic Levels in Dogs and Cats - Fact or Fiction?

Pet owners are rightfully concerned with the alarming increase of diabetes in dogs and cats. Diabetes has become a major concern for pet owners and their pets. Diabetes is a human problem, so why is this phenomenon occurring in our pets?

There are pet food manufacturers claiming to have low glycemic foods, even some claiming to have won awards for their low glycemic dog or cat foods. Are these claims real? Is there a real dog or cat food glycemic level established from the FDA or AAFCO? The real answer is "no".

We were informed of a company that does glycemic testing based in the US. I called them and asked specific questions. Here are some of the questions and responses:

1. Has the FDA or AAFCO approved glycemic numbers for pets?

    Answer: No

2. Does your company specifically do testing for pets?

    Answer: No, we do human glycemic testing.

3. Has your company or any company that you are aware of established a long term testing program determining actual glycemic levels for dogs or cats?

    Answer: No, but we are in the process of developing a program.

4. Is there any scientific proof that the numbers you are using are accurate for pets?

    Answer: No

5. Did you know that some pet food companies are using your low glycemic seal on their pet food bags claiming to be low glycemic pet foods?

   Answer: They are probably using human index numbers and converting them to pets.

6. Do you have a conversion table to convert human glycemic levels to dog or cat levels?

    Answer: No (pretty scary)

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Now, let’s look at various ingredients used in pet foods and see what the glycemic value is on the human index - the scale goes from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest on the glycemic chart. Here is a random sampling:

  • Potatoes 76
  • White Rice 72
  • Barley 25
  • Apple 38
  • Carrots 47
  • Yam 37
  • Corn 78
  • Brown Rice 55
  • Sprouts 25
  • Artichoke 15
  • Green Beans 15
  • Sweet Potato 50
  • Blueberries 44
  • Peas 48
  • Tapioca 56
  • Papaya 56

Potatoes are a common pet food ingredient, and are rated highest in the glycemic index (sugar levels) for root vegetables. That means potatoes have as much sugar in them as a Sugar Donut. Can this be one of the leading factors for the rise in Diabetes and obesity in dogs? Imagine what Your system would be like if you ate sugar donuts every day! We need reliable figures on safe pet sugar intake to keep our pets safe and healthy.

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