ISSN 1662-4009 (online)

ESPE Yearbook of Paediatric Endocrinology (2021) 18 12.7 | DOI: 10.1530/ey.18.12.7

ESPEYB18 12. Obesity and Weight Regulation Type 2 Diabetes (7 abstracts)

12.7. The shared risk of diabetes between dog and cat owners and their pets: register based cohort study

Delicano RA , Hammar U , Egenvall A , Westgarth C , Mubanga M , Byberg L , Fall T & Kennedy B

BMJ. 2020 Dec 10;371:m4337. doi: 10.1136/bmj.m4337.

In brief: Owners of dogs which have with diabetes are more likely to develop T2DM themselves than owners of dogs without diabetes. The underlying mechanisms might include shared diabetogenic health behaviours and environmental exposures. No shared risk of diabetes was found between cat owners and their cats.

Comment: This article was published in BMJ Christmas Special, but do not underestimate it; serious work was invested to reach the conclusions. Prospective data involving 132 783 dogs and 84 143 cats, recorded between 2004 and 2006 by a major Swedish pet insurance company, were linked to Swedish health and drug records to identify incidence of T2DM among pet owners (175 214 dog owners and 89 944 cat owners).

Owners of dogs with diabetes were found to have 38% higher risk of developing T2DM compared to owners of dogs without diabetes. This elevated risk persisted after considering socioeconomic and personal variables, such as age, sex, region of residence, marital status, education level and income; and also the age, sex and breed of the dog. In parallel, the risk of developing diabetes was 28% higher among dogs whose owners had been diagnosed with T2DM compared with dogs whose owners did not have T2DM.

Socioeconomic circumstances were not associated with increased risk. Suggested underlying mechanisms included an impact on dietary habits of the dog owners on their pets’ diet through portion control, frequency of feedings and providing table scraps in addition to dog food. Similarly, it is plausible that dog owners and dogs share the same frequency and intensity of exercise, and this could explain the lack of shared T2DM risk between cat owners and their cats.

So, dogs are ‘man’s best friend’. They can serve as a red light to their owners, to change their lifestyle and prevent T2DM.

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