Why Dog Owners are at Increased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

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risk of diabetes type 2
Image by Helena Sushitskaya from Pixabay

Everyone likes to have a furry friend in life but having a dog is involved with a number of health benefits too. For example, the role of pets to ease depression and anxiety is scientifically proven. But a new study has come up with surprising findings suggesting that owners of a diabetic dog are more at risk of diabetes type 2 than non-diabetic dogs.

Interestingly this risk is only limited to dog and dog owners and no such risk is seen in cats and cat owners. This research study is a collaboration of Uppsala University with three other research centers. The complete study findings are published in the journal The BMJ.

Many previous studies on pets estimated the possibility of shared adiposity between the dog and its owner. But there is no study that associated both of them sharing diabetes type 2. The research team from the Uppsala University collaborated with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, along with Karolinska Institutet and the University of Liverpool to understand this risk.

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The data is obtained from the Swedish veterinary insurance register to know the number and details of pet owners in Sweden. Collectively, there are at least 175,000 dog owners, and around 90,000 cat owners reported with their dogs and cats to be a part of this study.

The candidates selected to be a part of this study were all middle ages or older during the start of this study. They were set for a follow up extended to six years. Based on this information, the research team calculated the risk of diabetes type 2 in dogs, dog owners, cats, and cat owners.

Canine diabetes or diabetes in dogs is a common disease. Like humans, sometimes dogs also suffer from high blood sugar levels while their bodies make little or no insulin to control these sugar levels. They may also develop an abnormal response to this insulin, all of which result in diabetes.

This canine diabetes is affected by the food intake of a dog. The carbs from dog food breakdown into simpler molecules that a dog body can take up and use i.e., glucose (sugar). Insulin is a hormone that is required to process this glucose and make it available for the cells to use for energy production. When insulin is unavailable, insufficient or the body develops a tolerance, the glucose in the blood is unable to enter inside the body and like humans, dogs suffer from hyperglycemia.

Soon there is no way for the body to obtain energy so the dogs start feeling starved, unhealthy, and lethargic. The glucose accumulation in the blood increases their urination, water intake, and fatigue. There is no cause of canine diabetes and most experts agree that it has a genetic linkage.

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As canine diabetes is uncommon in younger dogs, this study picked only middle-aged or older dogs to be a part of this study.

The study found that owning a dog with canine diabetes increases the risk of diabetes type 2 in his owner by 38%. There is no diabetic risk seen in cat owners.

This increased risk of diabetes type 2 in dog and dog owners has no explanation so far. Although there are so many factors i.e. age, diet, dog breed, socioeconomic issues, etc but none of them can study this link.

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