New research published in the renowned scientific journal BMJ suggests that if a dog has diabetes, its owner is at increased risk of it too.
The special bond between dogs and their owners can, at times, be a very special one, according to a new study by researchers in Sweden and the UK. According to this research, owners of diabetic dogs are more likely to contract type 2 diabetes themselves. However, researchers have not found a link between cats and their owners.
The link is not a complete surprise, as previous research has shown that overweight people who own dogs tend to have overweight dogs as well. Perhaps due to a common sedentary lifestyle. Being overweight increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) affected 422 million people worldwide in 2014, is on the rise. WHO notes that from 1980 to 2014, the prevalence of diabetes in adults increased from 4.7% to 8.5%, while from 2000 to 2016 there was a 5% increase in early deaths from diabetes. disease. Experts expect diabetes to become even more prevalent as the world’s population ages and less active lifestyles and obesity become more prevalent.
The Diabetic Dog Owners Study
Using Swedish veterinary records from early 2004 to late 2006, the researchers identified 208,980 owner-dog pairs and 123,566 owner-cat pairs. By tracking the health of these owner-dog pairs from January 1, 2007 to December 31, 2012, the researchers identified owners with type 2 diabetes in the Swedish National Patient Registry, the Cause of Death Registry, and the Swedish Diabetes Registry. prescribed medications. To identify dogs with diabetes, the researchers analyzed veterinary insurance records.
The researchers took into account a variety of possible confounders, including each owner’s natal sex, age, marital status, region of residence, income and education level, as well as race, sex and the age of each dog.
The results: 38% higher chance of diabetes if your dog is also diabetic
In humans, regardless of the health status of their pet, there were 7.7 cases of diabetes per 1,000 human years among dog owners. And a little more among cat owners, ie 7.9 cases. Looking at pets alone, there were 1.3 cases of diabetes per 1,000 dog-years and 2.2 cases of diabetes per 1,000 cat-years.
However, analysis of the health of the owners and their animals revealed a striking correspondence between the results. People who owned a diabetic dog were 38% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who owned a non-diabetic dog.
Researchers also found that dogs whose owners had type 2 diabetes were 28% more likely to develop diabetes. However, once the team took the man’s age into account, the result was no longer statistically significant.
There was no such association between humans and their cats.
The researchers caution that their study has some limitations. First, it is limited to dog and cat owners who can afford veterinary insurance. Second, as an observational study, it does not delve into the reasons for this association.
However, the authors suggest that the fact that the diabetes link occurs between owners and dogs but not between owners and cats may provide a clue as to what is going on. Dogs and their owners tend to engage in the same level of physical activity more often than humans and their felines.
While people are physically active, especially outdoors, dogs often accompany them and therefore also benefit from the exercise. The reverse is also true: when humans are sedentary, their dogs are more likely to be physically inactive, too.
The activity level of cats, on the other hand, is more related to their own agenda than that of their owner. Even if an owner doesn’t exercise regularly, their cat is likely to get plenty of physical activity.
Unfortunately, the study did not include data on health behaviors, such as diet or physical activity, to test this theory. Nonetheless, the study authors suggest that their research may “serve as a sentinel for common diabetogenic health behaviors and environmental exposures.”
The results of the study suggest that if a dog is diagnosed with diabetes, it may be wise for their owner to undertake an assessment of their own lifestyle to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.