More than just a companion, a dog can be a guardian angel. Diabetes Assist Dogs are trained to monitor smells in the air for a specific scent on the human breath that is related to rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels. They are then trained to “alert” the person with diabetes, usually by touching them in a significant way such as pawing or nudging them. This alerts the person to check his or her blood sugar level. It also informs them that they should get something to eat to prevent hypoglycemia, or their blood sugars getting to a dangerous level. The canine partner can also be trained to retrieve juice or glucose tabs, get an emergency phone, or get help from another person in the house.
Diabetes Assist Dogs wear a backpack identifying them as an assistance dog. This backpack has pockets where medical information, a sugar source, and emergency contact information can be stored. This provides an extra safety net in case the person with diabetes is unable to get help in time. Anyone finding the person unconscious or acting abnormally would know it may be a medical emergency and know how to get help.
How can a dog detect low blood sugar?
The dogs are evaluated throughout “puppy-hood” for a willingness to work and a sensitive nose. Once we have identified their interest in smells, they begin scent training. A person experiencing hypoglycemia produces a particular scent, found on the breath, due to chemical changes in their body. All people produce the same scent when they have low blood sugar. Our training methods are similar to those used to train drug sniffing or search and rescue dogs trained to find people.
Source: Can Do Canines