Hypoglycemia Alert Dogs Save Lives

Assistance dogs notify their companions of dangerously low glucose levels.

Posted: March 18, 2008, 5 a.m. EST

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Diabetes Forecast, the consumer magazine of the American Diabetes Association (ADA), recently featured an article about assistance dogs who are trained to sense human hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, and sound an alert. The dogs are able to sense a dangerous drop in blood glucose before it begins, giving the people an opportunity to prevent an episode from occurring.

“Clients are coming back saying, ‘I have never had better control of my blood sugar in my life as I have since I got this dog,’” says Mark Ruefenacht, a forensic scientist and the creator of a hypoglycemia dog alert training center in Calif. Although scientists are still unsure as to how the dogs can detect changes in their human companions, it is believed that they are reacting to a scent created by chemical changes related to glucose imbalance.

Regardless of the uncertainty, these alert dogs are providing a great sense of relief to adults and children whose history of hypoglycemic episodes made it difficult to lead a normal life.

For more information, visit the ADA at www.diabetes.org

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Wanda   Albuquerque, New Mexico

1/27/2013 2:47:05 PM

I had a near-fatal car accident in 2008, caused by a hypoglycemic episode which made me pass out at the wheel. I am very interested in finding our more about these dogs.

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Marlene   Fairfax, VA

4/3/2011 4:54:01 PM

I am extremely interested in a program for dogs for diabetics. My daughter, Tracy, age 39, and now the mother of 3 little boys, and my grandson, Brady, her nephew, age 5, are both diabetics. Tracy was put on disability due to hypoglycemia while pregnant with her 3rd son, Drew, now 8 weeks old. The hope was that she would not experience these same drastic lows once Drew was born. This, unfortunately, is not the case. While breastfeeding Drew, she continues to have extreme lows that she is cannot discern their onset. We have had to call paramedics, and most recently, she was unaware of 1-2 hours of time while she was caring for her two youngest sons. Please let me know of those who have programs that could assist her or pass on this information to those with whom you have contacts. Tracy has served as a foster parent for dogs for the past 15 years, and has adopted 4 dogs herself from rescue groups. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

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Susan   Louisville, OH

4/19/2010 6:10:01 AM

My granddaughter Taylor (age 4) has been a type 1 diabetic for over a year now. Of course we are trying to control her disease to avoid long term complications. Our biggest fears, however, are hypoglycemic episodes; especially at night. I would love to receive information on how to go about finding a service dog for her. Knowing that her night time lows could be detected would be a God-send. Please respond, Grandma Smith.

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Maddie   Palm Coast, FL

11/9/2008 2:26:37 PM

I was just recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I'm interested in getting one of these dogs. What breeds are typically used for this training? Or can they use any breed? How do you get one?

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