Dogs4Diabetes Help Manage Human Blood Sugar Levels

More on PawNation: alert dogs, diabetes, German Shepard, Schnoodle, service dogs
When Seattle-area resident Kim Pouncy's dog, Mack, kept waking her up in the middle of the night, she thought the 3-year-old Labrador was having behavioral problems. But when the midnight nudges became simultaneous with Pouncy herself feeling dizzy and weak, she realized there was more to it. Mack was alerting her owner to a drop in blood sugar.

"I'm a Type II Diabetic," Pouncy told Paw Nation, "and I'm dependent on insulin. It's hard to say how long it took for me to catch on that Mack was alerting me. I didn't realize when she was doing it during the day, but when she did it at night three or four times, I finally got it because she would wake me out of a sound sleep."

Diabetes alert dogs are appearing more and more all over the country. Dogs4Diabetics, Inc. (D4D) began almost seven years ago, when its founder began researching the possibility of training dogs to detect type-1-diabetes-related hypoglycemia, and to physically alert diabetics to a hypoglycemic situation.

According to former D4D board member Martha Hoffman, the organization has seen great success in matching people with their talented and trained alert dogs. "The program is effective and genuine," Hoffman tells Paw Nation, "and all the dogs are tracked by their accuracy as measured by their partner's blood-sugar readings."

Hoffman confirmed that along with D4D's training to alert to lows, the dogs began independently alerting to lows before they happen. The dogs seem to recognize when blood sugar is starting to drop, way before a meter reading shows a low. This helps people avoid the low, and better prepare before onset.

While scientists have not yet defined all of the elements that compose the warning process, diabetics agree that alert dogs are in tune to the physical, emotional and physiological changes that occur during the complex prelude to diabetic symptoms.

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