I recently saw a very nice, older Labrador that was drinking and urinating more than usual. The dog was obese, weighing in at 120 pounds, with an ideal weight of 75 to 80 pounds. Her coat, foot pads, and nose were light gray, dry, and cracked. She was arthritic and had difficulty moving due to her weight. Her diet was poor quality dry kibble from the local agriculture supply store. The owners described it as “the best food, grain free, high quality”. Unfortunately, they had fallen victim to the advertising schemes of the big pet food company.

She was showing classic symptoms of diabetes, which is fairly common in obese Labrador Retrievers fed dry, carbohydrate-laden food. My suspicions were verified when her lab results showed a blood sugar over 500 (normal is around 100). Pets with diabetes are Yin Deficient, meaning they lack cooling and moisture, which is the reason for the excessive drinking and urination from a TCVM standpoint.

She also had a urinary tract infection, which is a common secondary problem for pets with diabetes. High sugar levels in the urine promote the growth of bacteria.

She had chronic yeasty ear infections and chronic ear hematomas, as a result of the high carbohydrate load in the diet, along with an intolerance to one of the food ingredients.

Her gums were dark red, showing inflammation secondary to dental disease and the heat in her body. Her tongue was dry, cracked, and pale, indicating Blood and Yin deficiency.


No pet should have to suffer with these chronic diseases. Please continue to educate your friends, neighbors, and relatives about the importance of feeding a high quality diet. This dog will require twice daily insulin injections, along with a diet change. By moving away from dry kibble and feeding her a high meat, low carbohydrate diet, her diabetes will be easier to control, using smaller doses of insulin. I expect the ears will also clear up once she is place on a cooling diet without the high carbohydrate load.