Diabetic Patients Get Help from Dogs
August 28, 2009
Dogs have proven their worth to mankind since time immemorial and today, these canines still prove to be indispensable. We hear a lot of stories of rescue missions made successful with the help of dogs, assistance for the blind, bomb and drug detection using their ever-reliable nose, and a whole lot more.
Now, there is a growing interest on diabetic-alert dogs, which are trained especially to help patients with Type 1 diabetes prevent the dangers of having a drop in their insulin level. A study conducted at Queen’s University Belfast in December 2008 on 212 diabetic dog owners who are insulin dependent showed that 65% of them were given warning signs by their pets when they are in the verge of having a hypoglycemic episode. These warning signs include barking, whining, and licking.
There are a few non-profit organizations that train dogs in order to assist diabetic patients by improving their sense of smell. According to these groups, dogs can sniff a certain scent that is directly related to insulin drop in humans. Such actions are very instrumental to preventing coma or seizures, which can occur among people with hypoglycemic episodes.
Carol Edwards, the Program Director of Dogs4Diabetics, says that dogs have an uncanny ability to smell blood sugar level drop before it actually happens, however, the answers to the “how’s” and “why’s” have yet to be determined. This is the reason why the American Diabetes Association has not yet given the green light on backing up claims on diabetic alert dogs.
Although this may be the case, it has not stopped diabetic patients from taking interest, and eventually, owning a service dog to help them. Kristin Wilson, for one, puts her trust on her pet Kolumbo, who is always at least 80% accurate in detecting an impending blood sugar drop. Many others, some of them kids, have grown to love and appreciate their service dogs which keep them safe from hypoglycemic episodes particularly at night.