A lot of people are today! The latest trend in the medical world is for people with diabetes to use specially trained “alert” dogs to warn them before their blood sugar drops or spikes to life-threatening levels.
Doctors say that alert dogs are especially helpful to diabetics that have a dangerous condition called hypoglycemia, which means they experience no warning signs that their blood sugar is rapidly changing. They’re completely fine one second and suddenly pass out the next. And that can turn deadly if they hit their head on the floor when they pass out – or if they collapse while alone.
There are products on the market, like glucose monitors, which can notify you of changing blood sugar levels. But they can take too long to detect changes. In fact, studies have shown that alert dogs can detect blood sugar changes up to 30 minutes before glucose monitors can.
So, how exactly do alert dogs work? They use their heightened sense of smell to detect an odor we give off when our blood sugar rises or drops. In fact, even when the dogs are asleep, the smell jolts them awake. Then they spring into action, either by alerting the diabetics themselves, or if it’s a diabetic child, alerting their parents. If the dog bows, that signals you’ve got low blood sugar. And if they wave their paw – your blood sugar is high.
That way, people know how to treat themselves.
Alert dogs cost around $20,000. But a lot people say the dogs are worth every penny. If you’d like to find out more about alert dogs, check out AlertServiceDogs.com or NIDAD.com – which stands for National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs.