Dogs and People with Diabetes

Dogs and People with Diabetes

Last update: 03 May, 2018

It is well known that dogs are able to help people with certain disabilities. And we will never cease to be amazed at how good they are for us — especially those of us who have diabetes.

Among other scientific advances, we now know that dogs can alert epileptic people that they are about to have a seizure. They are also able to detect certain types of cancer. In addition, they have special abilities to help people with mental disabilities. Now we also know that dogs can detect diabetes.

How dogs detect diabetes

How dogs detect diabetes

People with diabetes noticed that their dog’s behavior got a bit strange before they had a hypoglycemic crisis. Their dogs were warning them that something was not quite right.

These situations resulted in research to see whether dogs can detect low glucose levels, so dangerous for people with diabetes. It has been proven our bodies smell different when changes are happening inside. This is the type of change that dogs detect, thanks to their keen sense of smell and other abilities.

There are two types of dogs that can help people with diabetes:

  • Alert dogs warn their owners when there their sugar level is not normal.
  • Response dogs cannot detect variations in blood sugar levels, but are trained to help the patient by bringing medication or notifying someone about the situation.

Training dogs to detect diabetes

Currently, there are not very many centers that train dogs to detect diabetes. It is a meticulous and quite difficult task, but every day the demand for these very special helpers grows because of what a huge help they can be, especially for children with diabetes.

They receive personalized training to learn their owner’s smell and any possible variations in it. Each dog is trained to recognize the smells of one single person.

This kind of training isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it. They are trained to detect high or low blood sugar levels and notify humans through signals. All this is thanks to the sense of smell that dogs have, which enables them to detect drugs and bombs, for example.

Therefore they can also be trained to sniff and detect subtle smells emitted by people with insulin problems. These dogs are trained to identify changes in sugar levels by smell.

The best breeds for diabetes detection training

Although all dogs have the ability to sniff and detect abnormalities in their owners, some breeds are better at it than others. For example, the breeds that are used the most for these kinds of detection programs are Labradors and Golden Retrievers. They can easily detect human smells, especially changes in blood sugar levels, thanks to their very fine sense of smell.

Furthermore, tests have confirmed that dogs can identify people with bladder, ovary, skin, or lung tumors.

Other illnesses

A child and a dog.

Some training centers educate dogs to detect different pathologies, such as seizures and low blood sugar.  Some can even locate cancer in a person.

Although there is no evidence that dogs can perceive when a woman is pregnant, there are many anecdotes supporting it. Among the arguments for this hypothesis is their sense of smell, which can perceive changes in hormones and pheromones of pregnant women.

In some cases, cats and dogs have demonstrated unsettling death-predicting skills. The most famous case is that of Oscar the cat. He lived in a nursing home in Rhode Island and had a strange habit. He would lie down next to elderly people in the home on the very day that they died.