Diabetes Dogs: Furry Friends That Could Save Lives

Service dogs have picked up a new gig: helping to save the lives of individuals suffering from diabetes.

Historically, service dogs have been useful for a variety of purposes. They are often trained to help authorities in drug and bomb searches, aid in rescue missions, or to track suspected criminals. They are also commonly used for medically related issues such as guiding and assisting visually impaired or physically challenged individuals.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there has recently been an upswing in the amount of canines trained to alert individuals to medical dangers. These animals are turning their most useful asset, their noses, into tools that help identify cancer, oncoming seizures, and now diabetes.

Although researchers are not quite sure why, dogs have the ability to sniff out the chemicals produced during low-blood-sugar incidents in diabetes patients. Their keen sense of smell is often faster at sensing dangerous blood sugar levels than modern medical instruments.

This ability can bring some much needed comfort to those suffering with the disease. Parents of children afflicted are especially eager to have such companions.

In an article from KY Forward, one such mother is grateful for the help provided by her daughter Brianna’s furry friend:

“The year-old dog can detect the nitrogen content in Brianna’s breath, or even through her skin, and will “alert” by pawing at her leg if her sugar level either drops or rises to dangerous thresholds.”

The Atlantic Wire estimates that there are currently around 30,000 trained service dogs in the United States.

Would you trust a service dog to aid in the detection of diabetes?