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Dogs Have the Same Risk of Diabetes as Their Owners, Study Finds

Image credits: AFP.

Image credits: AFP.

A recent study suggested that the prevalence of diabetes in dogs and cats appears to be on rise.

New research conducted in Sweden has suggested that the risk of diabetes in dogs and their owners might be similar.

The research published in the British Medical Journal has been conducted by Uppsala University’s Beatrice Kennedy and her team in Sweden, reported The Guardian.

Her team studied insurance data from Sweden’s largest pet insurance company. The anonymised health records of patients were pulled out using national identification numbers.

They assessed data of 208,980 owners/dog pairs and found that owning a dog that has diabetes will make it 38 percent more likely for owners to get type 2 diabetes than those who own a healthy dog. However, data of 123,566 owner/cat pairs were also compared and there was no shared risk of diabetes was found between cat owners and their pets.

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The link between diabetes of dogs and their owners could not be explained by personal and socio-economic circumstances.

The report said that the prevalence of diabetes in dogs and cats appears to be on rising. Diet and obesity can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in both animals.

Beatrice said that just like previous research where the shared risk of obesity is involved between dogs and their owners, she and her team believe that the risk of diabetes is also related to physical activity levels.

It seems like an important factor given the absence of shared risk between cats and their owners. It is likely that different movement habits are responsible for the absence of this risk. The researcher said, “Cats usually prefer more independence from their owners when it comes to their movements”.

Beatrice added that exposures to pollutants or chemicals of dogs and their owners may also be a factor that needs to be explored further.

As per the report, researchers could not confirm the underlying cause of this association because this was an observational study.

It is considered that the fact that there exists a link between type 2 diabetes in dogs and their owners is reason enough to change the health behaviours of the entire family. According to Beatrice, the diabetes of the dog could be a marker of something important going on.

She said that it is well known that there exists a bond between dogs and their owners. This behaviour that is found in diabetes type 2 can be extended to other health behaviours and risks.

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first published:December 11, 2020, 19:02 IST