It has been said that dogs tend to eventually resemble their owners. After spending quite some time together, they start to develop the same personality quirks.
Moreover, according to new research, dogs and their owners share the same risk for type-2 diabetes.
In Sickness and in Health
Researchers from Sweden pulled data from the largest pet insurance company to analyze the link between type-2 diabetes in pets and their humans. They used the 10-digit national identification numbers of the owners to acquire their anonymized health records. A total of 208,980 owner-dog and 123,566 owner-cay pairs were included in the research.
They discovered that owners of dogs with diabetes were at a 38 percent increased risk of having type-2 diabetes themselves than those who own a healthy pup. The same cannot be said about owners of cats with diabetes.
The absence of a link between diabetes in cats and owners may be explained by the difference in fitness. Cats do not normally go on walks with their owners. If the cat is heavier than normal, there is no guarantee that the owner will also be sedentary.
But, dogs depend on their dogs for exercise. If the owner is sedentary, the dog will be, too.
Previous research has suggested that overweight owners tend to have overweight dogs. Obesity is a risk factor for diabetes among humans and hounds.
The researchers said that more research needs to be done on the subject. Perhaps, environmental exposures to pollutants or chemicals may also influence diabetes risk.
However, the researchers added that a diagnosis of diabetes in the household, whether human or pet, should lead to a reassessment of health behaviors for everyone.
The strategies to prevent the illness in dogs are similar to decreasing a human’s risk of having type-2 diabetes.
Start with Buying Quality Food
Food is an important factor in preventing diabetes in pets and humans. Some grocery store brands are not good enough to maintain the health of your pets.
Go for pet food high in protein to keep the blood sugar levels of your dogs and cats. Those that are high in carbohydrate content will increase their risk of diabetes.
More importantly, do not overfeed them. There are usually serving suggestions on the packaging of the food. Dogs generally should only eat 20 to 30 calories per pound of body weight per day. When in doubt, talk to a vet.
Pets also need fresh fruits and vegetables. If they eat kibbles, owners should consider incorporating more fresh ingredients. A serving of gently-cooked vegetables such as broccoli, collards, kale, and dandelion greens will add more fiber to their diets.
Fiber is crucial in the management of blood sugar. It slows the absorption of sugar in the body, preventing blood sugar spikes.
Fruits also provide a healthy dose of fiber. Although sweet, they do not cause a blood sugar spike.
Amp Up Physical Activity
Pets should also be physically active. Exercise is an important factor in the prevention and treatment of diabetes — human or hound.
When humans exercise regularly, the risk of type-2 diabetes lowers by increasing the insulin sensitivity of their cells. This process helps them manage their blood sugar levels. In one study, pre-diabetic patients increased their insulin sensitivity by 51 percent after a moderate-intensity exercise and 81 percent after a high-intensity workout.
It is safe to assume that the same happens to dogs. Experts recommend that dogs be taken for a walk at least once a day. The length of that walk depends on the age, breed, and capacity of the dog. Older dogs might need to go on a shorter route. Weather should be taken into consideration. If it is too hot out, it might not be safe to be out for too long.
Get Regular Visits to the Vet
A visit to the vet will identify the pet’s risk for diabetes. They can perform checkups and blood tests to diagnose illnesses. This is more important as the pet grows older. The vet can also recommend lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes.
As soon as you notice changes in a pet’s behavior, such as increased appetite and thirst, more frequent urination, or sudden weight loss. These are symptoms of diabetes.
Diabetes is a silent killer in pets. Symptoms are not always obvious to humans. However, it is preventable. As long as cats and dogs maintain a healthy daily routine of physical activity and a balanced diet, their risk of developing diabetes decreases.