Diabetic Alert Dogs

Living with diabetes is challenging. Modern technology has greatly improved, but the need to constantly monitor one’s glucose levels while going through daily activities is still a balancing act. When patients don’t feel the onset of a hypoglycemic episode, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to monitor, or to sleep through an episode. And the consequences can be scary.

 

If you have lost the ability to sense when a low is happening, a diabetes alert dog, with its incredible sense of smell, can make a significant difference. When you experience a drop or a rise in glucose levels outside of normal range, you release a specific smell. A dog can be trained to pay attention to that smell and react by alerting you that it’s time to check your glucose levels. 

 

Although a diabetic alert dog (DADs) should never replace a blood glucose meter or a continuous glucose monitor, it provides an extra layer of security along with a friendly watchful presence for better peace of mind.

Dr Dana Hardin

Along with Dr. Dana Hardin, pediatric endocrinologist, and Wes Anderson, a statistician at Lilly, Jennifer Cattet, Ph.D., owner of Medical Mutts are the first ones to have proven the ability of diabetic alert dogs to smell the difference between a low sample and a normal sample.

Link to Study

How do service dogs detect diabetes?

A unique and distinct behavior

 

When a diabetic alert dog smells a change in low (hypoglycemia) or high (hyperglycemia) glucose levels, they are taught to give vigorous pokes with their nose as a way to alert the person that they need to check. We don’t encourage barking as an alert, as that would be problematic in public. Unlike an electronic device that you might not hear or could ignore, a diabetes alert dog will keep pestering you until he/she gets a reaction. Our diabetes alert dogs are also taught to wake the person up, get help, press a button to call a relative or 911 or bring glucose tablets or juice. 

 

Our training methods are scientifically validated and adhere to the highest standards of training. The quality of our program is also exported overseas where we coach other organizations with their training protocols.

 

In addition to their alerting skills, our diabetes alert dogs are taught all the behaviors required to pass the Public Access Test and meet or exceed the minimum standards of training established by the International Association of Assistance Dogs Partners (IAADP). You’ll be able to safely and reliably take your diabetes alert dog to work, to school, to the mall, restaurant, etc.