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Labrador dog.
Labrador dog.
Image: Shutterstock

Study finds dogs can detect diabetes

Researchers have found that some pet dogs respond to their owners’ hypoglycaemic state.
Aug 21st 2013, 6:51 PM 9,429 21

PEOPLE WITH DIABETES living with trained glycaemia alert dogs afford significant improvements to their well-being, a study has shown.

The study by Nicola J. Rooney, Steve Morant and Claire Guest for the University of Sussex shows that since obtaining their dog, all clients studied reported positive effects including reduced paramedic call outs, decreased unconscious episodes and improved independence.

Seventeen clients took part in the study. The dogs comprised six Labrador Retrievers, one Golden Retriever, two Labrador Retrievers/Golden Retriever cross, one Poodle, one Collie Cross, two Labradoodles, one Lurcher, one Cocker Spaniel and one Yorkshire Terrier.

Low and high blood sugar levels

Data showed that dogs accurately alerted their owners when they had low and high blood sugar levels. Eight out of the ten dogs responded consistently more often when their owner’s blood sugars were reported to be outside rather than within target range.

When asked to recall the incidence of hypoglycaemia, currently and before having a trained dog, all clients reported a reduction in either frequency of low blood sugar, unconscious episodes or paramedic call outs and six clients believed all three had been reduced.

Eight people reported that they had never been unconscious since having a trained dog, however they had had them previously also. Three reported paramedic call outs pre, but not post-dog acquisition.

Training dogs

The study states that “following anecdotal evidence of spontaneous responses, charities have started to train dogs to systematically alert owners with diabetes”.

Fifteen of the nineteen people studied said they trusted their dog to alert them when their blood sugars were low.

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Christina Finn


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