Could Your Dog’s Diabetes Mean You’re in Danger, Too?
You share a special bond, a household, and miles of walking together. But a new study found there’s more you might have in common with your four-legged best friend. A new Swedish study found having a dog with diabetes increases the owner’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, too.
Like fido, like owner
The study authors say there are a few potential reasons for the link. For one thing, canines and their caretakers may share lifestyles and habits.
For instance, you might get similar amounts of physical activity in the form of walks and active play. Plus, there’s some evidence heavier humans—at risk for type 2 diabetes—provide more frequent meals, treats, and table scraps to their pooches. This then fuels Fido’s risk.
There also may be shared factors in the place you live that influence your diabetes risk, and your dogs’. For instance, air or noise pollution could play a role. So might exposure to chemicals that disrupt hormone levels, including bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic products.
Take healthy steps, together
The findings of this study don’t mean your dog causes your diabetes. In fact, for the most part, having a pet is more likely to provide health benefits than risks. Pet owners tend to have lower blood pressure, less stress, and better physical fitness.
But problems in your pet could serve as a sign you might both want to make lifestyle changes. To reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes:
Watch your weight. If you’re carrying extra pounds, losing just 5% to 10% of your current weight can help lower your risk.
Investigate testing. Your healthcare provider can schedule a blood test, as needed. This can reveal if you have prediabetes. With this condition, your blood glucose levels are high, but not high enough for a diabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes can be reversed with healthy changes.
Follow a nutritious eating plan. Get plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Cut back on processed foods and added sugars.
Get active. Each week, aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as biking or fast walking. Moving more can help your dog, too. Just ease in: Both animals and people should start small and increase activity levels over time.