Having a dog with type 2 diabetes might increase the owner’s risk of developing the condition by 32%, according to Swedish research.

Man’s best friend also has a slightly greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes if their owner has the condition.

These conclusions were made following a study of 210,000 pairs of dogs and their owners by Uppsala University, which has been published by the Christmas edition of The BMJ.

Researcher Dr Beatrice Kennedy said: “We have not had access to information about household lifestyle behaviours, but we think the association [with dogs] 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.

Dr Tove Fall, co-study author, added: “Humans and dogs have lived together for at least 15,000 years and continue to share their everyday lives for better or worse.

The theory was suggested by the research team that owners of dogs with type 2 diabetes may be more aware of the condition and therefore more likely to get themselves screened for type 2 diabetes. This could lead to an “increased early detection rate of type 2 diabetes in owners”, they suggested.

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The study was based on data from Swedish national registers along with information from the Agria Pet Insurance company, covering approximately 40% of the country’s dog population and 23% of domestic cats. The period examined was between 2007 and 2012.

The researchers also investigated whether there was a similar link between cats and their owners, but after reviewing 125,000 pairs of owners and their pets no such association was reported.

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