Cost Of Diabetic Alert Dog

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Service Dogs Pick Up Scent Of Diabetes Danger

About two times a night, Shana Eppler wakes up to an alarm and slips into her daughter Abbie's room to test the 8-year-old's blood sugar. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 4, Abbie experiences low blood-sugar levels, a potentially dangerous condition known as hypoglycemia that can cause the loss of consciousness. The alarm Ms. Eppler uses to avoid a health emergency is a furry one named Gracie, an 70-pound, 3-year-old British Labrador retriever trained to sniff out high and low blood-sugar levels. When Abbie's sugar level rises or falls below a certain target at night, Gracie rings a bell and Ms. Eppler gets up. "The scenting part comes naturally," says Ms. Eppler, of Colorado Springs, Colo. "They are hunting blood sugars instead of ducks." Diabetic, or hypoglycemic, "alert dogs" are a growing class of service dogs best known for guiding the visually impaired, sniffing out drugs and bombs, or providing mobility assistance for people with severe disabilities. Most recently, they have been trained to sniff out cancer and oncoming seizures. Toni Eames, president of International Association of Assistance Dog Partners, estimates there are over 30,000 assistance dogs working Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. FartyBanana

    This is Duncan the Service dog. He alerts his owner by bumping him with his nose when he senses that his blood glucose levels are out of range. Another alert/response he has been trained to do is to bring a juice box to his owner when they are at home. This has actually saved my friend's life once when he fell into a paralyzed-like state and couldn't get up. Duncan brought him a juice box and he was able to get his glucose back up.
    Edit: holy crap I wasn't expecting this! I just want to address some common questions:

    He'll close the damn fridge if you tell him to. He can open and shut doors, but he's gonna make sure you're solid first. He is apparently no longer asked to shut the fridge due to his nails scratching the stainless steel.

    I termed it a "paralyzed-like" state for lack of knowing what to call it. He was more "stuck" and needed some help. He wasn't stable enough to stand, but had use of his arms.

    We don't really know why exactly Duncan brought me a juice, as he isn't supposed to do that for other people. I remember that I was starving at the time, so my sugar was probably low, and my friend had stepped out for a few minutes, so he probably just didn't know what to do. "You smell that way that Dad isn't supposed to smell like. Here's a juice."

    If you want to help with service dogs, look into a training facility near you. If you can't give monetary donations, volunteers are usually needed.

  2. styroducky

    How does he sense glucose levels?

  3. FartyBanana

    It is a scent. The trainers provide scent samples, preferably from the future owner of the dog, though sometimes they obtain them from volunteers. My friend would actually ziplock and freeze a shirt he was wearing when he was out of range and mail it to the company to use to train with.

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