Dogs can Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels With 90 Percent Accuracy

by Medindia Content Team on  February 4, 2008 at 3:05 PM Diabetes News
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Dogs can Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels With 90 Percent Accuracy
Already known for their capability of leading the blind, alerting the deaf, and helping the physically disabled with daily tasks, dogs may also prove helpful in maintaining the blood sugar levels of diabetics.

This suggestion comes from researchers at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, who are looking for evidence to verify whether dogs can reliably detect dangerous blood sugar level drops in diabetics.

"Anecdotal reports suggest that some dogs can perform early warning of hypoglycemia by using their sense of smell to 'sniff out' if their owner's blood sugar levels are dropping," Live Science quoted lead researcher and psychology professor Deborah Wells as saying.

Diabetics have to test their blood glucose levels on a regular basis to avoid the peaks and valleys that can result in organ failure.

Some organisations in the US train dogs to detect low glucose levels. Mark Ruefenacht, the founder of Dogs for Diabetics in Concord, California, says that dogs that successfully complete training can detect low glucose levels with 90 per cent accuracy.

However, it is still unclear what the canines notice when a person experiences a blood sugar low is still a mystery, Ruefenacht admits.

"We just haven't come up with the right answers. Every time we think we have the answer, we find that we don't," he said.

Larry Myers, a veterinarian and professor at Auburn University in Alabama, says that scientists are still investigating whether dogs can truly detect low blood sugar levels. He, however, agrees that it is a possibility worth exploring.

The expert, who has trained dogs to detect everything from drugs to agricultural pests for 25 years, points out that dogs olfactory abilities are not universally sensitive to all chemicals.

"Do hypoglycemic individuals, in fact, emit an odour that is characteristic? I don't know, and I don't think anybody does know right now," he said.

Myers suggests that a possibility other than scent may perhaps be an ability in dogs to notice extremely subtle physiological changes in their human companion, which the canines are believed to use for seizure detection.

"It turns out what the dogs are really sensitive to is subtle changes in behaviour of the individuals just prior to seizing. It's more of a fact that dogs are very, very, very observant of human behaviour," Myers said.

Source: ANI

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My Jack Russell alerts my husband when I'm low while I'm sleeping. We adopted him from the Humane Society and he has alerted my husband three times..the latest was this morning...I went low while sleeping and Moe was with me in bed for a few hours, he then started to bark, my husband came in Moe was face to face with me..he looked at my husband and then at me and barked husband got me glucose gel and my hero got a treat(the dog not the husband) he got a kiss. I can tell when my blood sugar gets low when I'm awake. He is very protective of me, he barks at my husband when he playfully spanks me, but when I "hit" my husband, Moe pays no attention to him. He's a great dog, we lucked out when we got him.

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