Studies Show Dry Food Linked to Feline Diabetes

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We’ve always been told that a dry food diet is ideal for our pets. Remember all those commercials that claimed a hard, crunchy food helped clean teeth and promote better dental health. Always made perfect sense to me so I’ve always ensured my pets had a diet that was predominately quality dry food versus wet.

Fast forward a couple decades and studies are now showing that dry food may not be the magic bullet to raising healthy pets. Researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences discovered that normal-weight cats fed a diet of dry food had an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

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Hold the phone!  I always thought it was about keeping my felines fighting fit versus overweight, not about feeding them dry food. Apparently I was only partially right! According to the lead researcher, Malin Öhlund of the university’s Department of Clinical Services, “Through our research we found that while obesity is a very important and prominent risk factor for Diabetes Mellitus in cats, there is also an increased risk of diabetes among normal-weight cats consuming a dry food diet.”

The survey, called “Environmental Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Cats” is the largest case-control study about diabetic cats to date.  It was conducted over a four month period and involved 2,066 cats (396 known to have diabetes and 1,670 control subjects). The online survey asked 48 questions that zeroed in on the pet’s age, breed, sex, whether they were spayed or neutered, body condition as well as queries surrounding the animal’s overall health, activity levels and eating habits.

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Researchers investigated both new and known risk factors and found that in addition to the increased threat for normal-weight cats on a dry food diet that not surprisingly, indoor confinement, inactivity, being a greedy eater and being overweight also factored into increased risk of diabetes in cats.

While they are quick to point out that further studies are needed, the results have been published and will be made available under the name “Environmental Risk Factors for Diabetes Mellitus in Cats” in the January/February digital issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.