Dogs as it has been said are a man’s best friend. Apparently, that is even more true if you have diabetes.
Diabetics can feel faint if their sugar levels run low, something known as hypoglycemia. Shakiness, confusion, dizziness and potentially unconsciousness can be a result of low sugar levels in the bloodstream.
When a diabetic’s blood sugar is low, a chemical called isoprene can be smelled by dogs, yet humans cannot detect it.
In the UK, they are training dogs to be able to alert their owners if their blood sugar is low since they can smell isoprene and help their owners and decrease hospital admissions caused by hypoglycemia.
Read more about this fascinating program and the studies that have been done to support this method of diabetes support.
How dogs sniff out diabetes on your breath
By Meera Senthilingam, for CNN Mon July 11, 2016
(CNN)Imagine if your dog could sense when you’re about to pass out — and do so in enough time to stop it.
Now, imagine that all they need is their nose.
This scenario is a reality for hundreds worldwide, including Claire Pesterfield, a pediatric diabetes nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Pesterfield has type 1 diabetes, a form of the condition in which the pancreas is unable to produce any insulin and cannot regulate blood sugar. Her sugar levels can fall dangerously low — known as hypoglycemia — causing shakiness, confusion, disorientation and potentially unconsciousness.
But her golden Labrador retriever sidekick is ready to alert her before it kicks in, day or night.
“If he smells a hypo coming, he’ll jump up and put his paws on my shoulders to let me know,” Pesterfield said.
Her dog, Magic, is one of 75 medical alert assistance dogs trained by the UK charity Medical Detection Dogs to help people monitor a range of health conditions, including type 1 diabetes. About 10% of all people with diabetes are estimated to have type 1, in which the risk of hypoglycemia is far greater.
The dogs have been in service since 2009, trained to detect changes in their owner’s breath when blood sugar declines, but the precise scents they’re picking up have remained largely unknown — until now.