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Between 2006 and 2016, the incidence of diabetes in dogs increased almost 80%! It’s now estimated that one in every 300 pooches will get the disease. Beagles, bichons frises, cairn terriers, dachshunds, fox terriers, keeshonds, poodles and pugs are the most often diagnosed.

As dismaying as that info is, it turns out that it also foreshadows humans’ risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. A Swedish study published in the BMJ followed more than 175,000 middle-aged dog owners for six years. The researchers found owning a dog that had or developed diabetes increased the risk that the owner would also be diagnosed with the condition by 38%!

So, if your best pal is diagnosed with diabetes, let it serve as a wake-up call to you. Clearly you both need more physical activity. For most breeds, walks lasting a total of 30 to 120 minutes a day will keep them healthy. Ask your vet for guidance. And take advantage of the dog-walking schedule to get your full 10,000 steps in (with a dog that doesn’t dawdle too badly you can get around 2,500-3,000 steps in 30 minutes). One study found people who walked a loaner dog five days a week lost more than 14 pounds over the course of a year.

Bonus tip: As you reduce your risk for diabetes one dog walk at a time, opt for diabetes-defeating nutrition with a plant-based diet and lean proteins (salmon, skinless chicken) and ditch ultra-processed foods, added sugars, and red and processed meats.

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