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Your Pup Cannot Prevent You From Getting Type 1 Diabetes According To Science

Dog diabetes

Childhood type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented by early exposure or by owning a dog, however, increased risk for type 1 diabetes was seen among children exposed to retrievers.


Dogs bring unconditional love and loyalty into our lives. It is for this reason they're called man's best friend. Although your dog may be your loyal protector, he cannot, according to new research, protect you from getting type 1 diabetes says a Swedish study published May 1, 2017 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Related articles: Dogs May Be A Best Friend For People With Diabetes

Sweden’s Incidences of Type 1 Diabetes is High

The incidence of type 1 diabetes in Sweden is among the highest in the world. What is more, the incidence of childhood diabetes in Europe rose from 3% to 4% annually between 1989 and 2008, pointing to environmental factors as playing a role.

Hoping to Link Exposure To Prevention

The thought to expose young children to dogs in hopes of lowering incidences of type 1 diabetes originated from what’s known in medicine as the hygiene hypothesis -- a theory that states early childhood exposure to germs and microorganisms (such as the gut flora or probiotics), and even parasites may decrease susceptibility to disease.

The aim of the study was to determine whether exposure to dogs during the first year of life is associated in any way with the development of childhood type 1 diabetes.

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The requirements for the study involved identifying type 1 diabetes by using diagnosis codes from hospitals and dispensed prescriptions of insulin and by using regression models to assess the association between exposure to dogs and the risk of type 1 diabetes in childhood. The exposure requirement entailed having a parent who was registered as a dog owner during the child’s first year of life.

The possible association was further investigated by performing dose-response and breed group–specific analyses. The cohort was followed until September 30, 2012. Data analysis was conducted from October 15, 2015, to February 8, 2017.

Related article: Diabetes Goes to the Dogs, Sniffing Out Hypoglycemia

Of the 840,593 children reviewed, 48.6% were girls; mean standard deviation age at diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was 5.1 (2.6) years. Dog exposure was identified in 102,035 children (12.1%). Follow-up started at age 1 year, and the children were followed up for as long as 10.7 years (median, 5.5 years). During the follow-up, 1999 children had developed type 1 diabetes, but no association was discovered between exposure to dogs and childhood type 1 diabetes. The size of the dog or number of dogs in the household also was not associated with type 1 diabetes risk.

Related Article: Hot Dogs, Other Processed Meats May Raise Diabetes Risk

A Possible Association To Type 1 Diabetes Found With Retrievers

What the study did find was that an increased risk for type 1 diabetes was seen among children exposed to retrievers, Additionally, 210 children who had a parent with type 1 diabetes showed corresponded findings from a prior study. From these results, the authors of the study concluded, "dog exposure might be inversely associated with type 1 diabetes in high-risk children."