Service animals have accomplished some incredible feats. Although the most common use for service animals is to guide the blind, service animals can now be used for individuals who experience seizures, for men and women with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and—you guessed it—for those with diabetes.
Don’t believe me?
What Do Service Animals Do?
For a diabetes patient, a service animal is not a necessity; diabetes alert dogs are trained to sense chemical changes in their owner’s bodies in the midst of a dangerous blood sugar low. The service animals alert their owners to the crisis who can then take care of their blood sugar if they are cognizant enough or alert an emergency service.
Diabetes alert dogs have been particularly useful for men and women who have a difficult time sensing their own blood sugar deficiencies, a condition called hypoglycemia unawareness.
Who Needs a Diabetes Alert Dog?
Diabetes alert dogs are great for children who have been diagnosed with diabetes, as many of them do not have the presence of mind or awareness to notice their own deficiencies or might not have the ability to communicate when they feel ill or need some help. In these cases, diabetes alert dogs can alert parents or caregivers to a child’s immediate needs.
Diabetes alert dogs are also wonderful for individuals with severe diabetes complications and subsequent nerve damage, as they might not be aware of a heart attack or blood sugar low, as well as diabetes patients who are older or who live alone. Although living alone is not a hazard in and of itself, it can be problematic for anyone with diabetes since help can be harder to come by. Diabetes alert dogs can help remedy this concern by providing an additional “shield” against dangerous blood sugar imbalances and impending heart conditions.
Although diabetes alert dogs are legitimate service animals, some companies have arisen to take advantage of the increasing demand for diabetes service animals, but are not properly training their animals. When searching for a diabetes alert animal, first seek out animals of the proper age. Because puppies’ behavior can be unpredictable, a service dog should be no younger than 1-2 years. Dogs should also be trained to clearly indicate a blood sugar low by nudging their owner, bringing their owner a specific object or scratching at their owner’s hand or ankle.
Dogs must meet strict standards to be permitted in public places, so indicating a blood sugar low by barking, whining, or exhibiting any unruly behavior will be problematic. To begin your search for a diabetes alert dog, consider organizations such as Diabetes Alert Dog Alliance, Dogs for Diabetics, and Medical Mutts.