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How Having a Pet Helps Diabetic Patients Control Their Blood Sugar

Apr 27, 2016 05:31 AM EDT

Being a responsible pet owner can help people cope with emotional and mental stress, but new research reveals that responsible pet ownership can also help diabetic children maintain normal blood sugar levels.

According to a study published in the journal PLOS ONE, diabetic children who are actively involved in taking good care of their family pets were 2.5 times more likely to have well-controlled blood sugar levels.

For the study, researchers surveyed 23 young people medically diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on responsible pet ownership and analyzed the results with respect to successful self-management of their illness. The researchers took into consideration the difference between actual care responsibilities and level of attachment to the pets, because some children admit that they love their pets but they are not that active in actual pet care.

In their press release, researchers noted that attributes that help effective self-management of Type 1 diabetes, such as family cohesion and self-regulatory behavior, are not that different from those required for responsible care of household pets. The researchers also concluded that certain factors, such as the establishment of household routines and the promotion of feelings of responsibility that encourage children to take care of their pets, can also aide them in controlling their blood sugar levels.

Despite not taking into account the potential cultural differences in attitudes toward pet and diabetes care, and not showing any causal relationship between the two, researchers believe that the study can help in the identification of the attributes that support self-management in young patients with Type 1 diabetes.

According to the report of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have pets can greatly take advantage of the health benefits of having them, including lower levels of blood pressure, cholesterol, triglyceride and loneliness. Having a pet can also increase opportunities for exercise and socialization.

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