A new study suggests there’s good news and bad news if you’re the owner of a pet that has diabetes. The bad news: if you have a dog with diabetes, you’re more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The good news: no shared risk of diabetes could be detected for cat owners and their cats.
News Medical reports that researchers from Sweden and the U.K. conducted an observational study that tracked the health information of more than 175,000 dog owners and nearly 90,000 cat owners. The pet owners, all middle-aged or older, were followed for up to six years. The pets’ health records were also analyzed for the duration. The researchers then analyzed the incidence of type 2 diabetes in the pet owners and of canine and feline diabetes in the dogs and cats.
Previous research has validated the notion that dog owners resemble their pets (and vice versa): Dog owners with excess body fat are more likely to have a dog who is overweight, an association in studies has shown, says News Medical.
So how much are you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes if your dog already has it? According to the study, having a dog with diabetes was associated with a 38% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers were unable to draw any conclusions that would explain with absolute certainty the associated risk. Neither age, nor sex, nor the socioeconomic levels of the owners were factors. The same is true of the age, sex, or breed of the dogs.
But the researchers do have one theory: “…We think the association might be due to shared physical activity patterns and possibly also shared dietary habits as well as shared risk of adiposity. If shared exercise habits are indeed a key factor, it might further help explain why we don’t see any shared diabetes risk in cat owners and their cats,” one of the researchers told News Medical.
Dogs with diabetes most often require insulin therapy for the duration of their lifetime. The condition is more often diagnosed in older dogs, as well as in females that have not been spayed. Moreover, female dogs with diabetes are more likely to be overweight.