Medical detection dogs: an ally for people with diabetes

After an intense day of work, heavy traffic and very nervous, you got home. Time to rest.

The entrance to your residence is always well received with barking and jumping, as your puppy is anxious with your arrival.

With so much rush, you don’t feel well. Sweat, anxiety and tingling on the face are manifested. Then you notice that your blood sugar level is low.

But before you get dizzy or even faint, your dog will jump at you to get your attention and lick your face several times. It may seem cute, you think he has an admirable compassion for you.

But calm down, he was just trained to be diabetes patient’s best friend .

Smell as an alert

To make it easier to understand this whole plot, let’s take it easy. Not just any puppy is going to check your blood sugar. These are called medical detection dogs .

These animals receive focused training to support people with potentially fatal health conditions and alert the patient or family members to behave differently than normal, to indicate that something is not right.

In these cases, dogs identify by smell when the patient has a drop in blood glucose, called hypoglycemia .

Although it can occur with people without diabetes, the condition can be more frequent and severe among those who use insulin or antidiabetic drugs.

In these cases, the risks to health and life are greater, and yet about a quarter of people are unaware of them.

Diabetes patients always need to monitor blood glucose and take multiple injections of insulin to regulate blood glucose (blood sugar) rates.

Hypoglycemic attacks, which are the abnormal drop in blood sugar levels, can cause malaise, dizziness, fainting and lead to more serious cases, such as coma or death.

In these cases, animals are quite functional companions and can reduce risks to the patient.

Everything is possible through tutors to train the animal, teaching it to anticipate crises and issue alerts.

So far, there are few studies on this, but one latest survey has had encouraging results for patients who have diabetes.

Conducted by the University of Bristol in partnership with Medical Detection Dogs , the study brought together 27 trained dogs to warn of changes in blood glucose in their owners by licking their faces or looking for the measuring device (glucometer).

In the end, the dogs got it right in 83% of the cases.

“ We already know from previous studies that the quality of life of patients is much better for having a medical detection dog. Our study provides the first large-scale assessment of the use of medical detection dogs to detect hypoglycemia, ”said Dr. Nicola Rooney, lead author of the research in a press release.

Why do dogs help treat humans?

Animals can promote an improvement in the quality of life in the life of patients with diabetes and will still count on the company of their best friend.

As they are always familiar with their owners, they are conditioned to react with alert behavior when blood sugar levels are altered.

As the patient does not always show symptoms of falling blood glucose, the trained dog can be quite effective in reducing risks related to hypoglycemia.

But it is not only in the case of diabetes that they help us, as they have also proved to be excellent co-therapists in the physical and emotional treatment of their owners.

Because they are more playful and docile, getting attached to a dog is not a difficult task, quite the contrary, it can be an affective way to contribute to medical treatment.