From Windsor, Ontario, Canada:
My son is 7. He was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. They say he will have to take 2 shots a day forever. There is absolutely no family history except his dog which is now 5.5 years old. His dog Robo had to take insulin from age 1.5 to 2.5 then for some reason the vet said the dog grew out of it.
Is there a correlation? Does the dog carry a virus?
He lives in the house. He sleeps with my son. He urinates in the house.
Should I get rid of the dog?
Most new onset cases of Type 1 diabetes in children have no family history (although some special laboratory tests can usually track down the pattern of inheritance). And yes there has to be a commitment to insulin injections for the foreseeable future; but progress is being made in the use of pumps in young people and in acceptable transplant programs. Meantime the most important objective is to make the best use of new insulins, new syringes, new insulins, etc. to achieve and maintain good control.
Dogs do carry streptococci which can infect humans and it is just possible that a cross-infection of this sort triggered the onset of clinical diabetes in your son resulting from a long standing auto-immune process. In the present state of our knowledge though it is very unlikely indeed that a specific virus caused diabetes in both your son and his dog.
[Editor's comment: Even if the dog were in some way to be implicated in the development of diabetes in your son, which I strongly doubt, what's done is done. It would be cruel punishment for both your son and his pet if you were to arbitrarily separate them. And the pet's diabetes might help your son adjust more rapidly than if your son had no "role models."
Additional comment from Stephanie Schwartz, diabetes nurse specialist:If Robo is urinating in the house, his blood sugar may be high enough that he should go back on insulin! It is my understanding from talking with our vets that all dogs with diabetes require insulin therapy, just like kids with Type 1 diabetes.
Original posting 18 Nov 97
Additional comment added 4 Dec 97
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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