Most people are familiar with the role of guide dogs and hearing dogs. But not as many people know about the other different jobs service dogs can perform. The specific role we want to focus on in this post is alert dogs for diabetics.
A significant concern for people with type 1 diabetes is hypoglycemia unawareness. This condition occurs when someone's blood sugar gets too low but they don't experience any symptoms like shaking, sweating or confusion. The reason this can be so serious is if an individual's blood sugar continues dropping, it can eventually result in seizures or even a coma. A trained diabetes service dog can prevent this from happening.
The Power of Scent
Because detecting a drop in blood sugar is much different than guiding someone with sight or hearing difficulties, people often wonder how dogs can be trained for this specific type of service. The answer has to do with smell. It's no secret that dogs have an incredible sense of smell. That sense is so powerful that dogs can be trained to recognize very precise scents, including the unique scent a person gives off during a hypoglycemic episode when blood sugar is too low. The same is true for identifying the fruity smelling ketones a person’s body produces when blood sugar is too high.
More Information About Service Dogs for Diabetics
A diabetic service dog isn't a replacement for checking blood sugar levels on a consistent basis. However, it can be a critical safeguard for someone who regularly experiences hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic episodes without any warning symptoms.
The Diabetic Alert Dog University and National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs are two organizations that specialize in training service dogs for diabetics. Mixed sporting dog breeds, poodles, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers are all popular candidates for this kind of training. Training generally takes place when a dog is between one and two years old.
In addition to detecting a significant spike or drop in blood sugar, diabetic service dogs need to be able to alert someone to this change. Touching their owner with its nose, sitting and staring, jumping or holding a particular toy as a signal are all examples of how these service dogs can be trained to give alerts. A service dog for diabetics can be trained to perform additional tasks, including retrieving a cell phone, bringing medication or alerting other family members.
We hope you found this discussion about service dogs for diabetics to be helpful and educational. If you're interested in learning about a business opportunity built around making great food for all types of dogs, be sure to take a look at what opening a Pet Wants franchise has to offer.