Glycemic Index is a way of measuring the tendency of a specific food to raise the blood sugar level. The higher the index, the greater the risk of an unhealthy rise in blood sugar for your pet. Carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed by cats and dogs and converted to glucose. It’s the rapid rise in blood glucose that triggers the insulin response in the pancreas. This is the similar effect of feeding a child a high sugar diet. There has been a dramatic rise in diabetes in cat and dogs over the last 30 years, but providing a proper diet can help prevent its onset.
There is no known minimum dietary carbohydrate requirement for dogs. This does not mean that they can’t digest and metabolically use them. The digestion starts in the pancreas by producing and storing four major digestive enzymes. They include trypsin, chymotrypsin, amylase, and lipase . The trypsin and chymotrypsin break down protein molecules, the amylase breaks down starches, and lipase does the same to fats and triglycerides. The function of the enzymes is to break down food in the intestine into smaller molecules. Breaking down the molecules of food into smaller sizes is an important part of the overall digestive process and allows nutrients to be absorbed by the cells that line the intestine. The nutrients are then passed from those cells into the bloodstream.
Simple and complex carbohydrates are digested in the same way in cats and dogs and rapidly converted to glucose. The glucose is used as quick source of energy that is stored in the muscles and liver in the form glycogen. Any extra left in the blood stream is then stored as fat. It’s this glucose in the blood stream that creates the demand for insulin made in the pancreas and that in time can lead to developing Diabetes Mellitus. This is much the same for humans living on a high sugar diet. Small amount of carbohydrates are very beneficial dogs, but in cats the damage they do far out ways any benefit they receive. If cats and dogs are fed a natural diet based on quality meats high in protein and fat they can convert these at a slower rate to meet metabolic requirement for glucose, decreasing the insulin levels in the blood stream, but at the same time delivering vital amino acids needed to fuel and repair there organs, muscle and bones.
- Guideline layout by the F.E.D.I.A.F. European Pet Food Industry Federation (June 2012)
- Waltham Book of Dog and Cat Nutrition (2nd edition, 1988)
Enzymes are the life force of a food, helping us to digest it and absorb nutrients. Foods in their raw state naturally come with some of the needed enzymes for digestion, but the enzymes found in raw fresh food are destroyed with heat between 40-47 celsius. The enzymes are not destroyed by freezing. This effectively means that all natural enzymes in high processes kibbles, dried or canned food are completely lost. This means the bodies of our dogs are forced to work harder by producing more enzymes to be able to absorb the nutrients they need.