Diabetes Alert Dogs: Everything You Need To Know
Note: This article has been reviewed by Dr. Dana Hardin MD, and Dr. Jennifer Cattet Ph.D. Many individuals with type 1 diabetes spend their days worrying about the possibility of having a low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia). Aside from frequent testing of blood glucose levels (self monitoring of blood glucose, SMBG), they may experience uncomfortable signs of hypoglycemia such as sweating, shaking, or confusion. These early symptoms of hypoglycemia are helpful, even though uncomfortable, because they help the person with diabetes know it is time to check their glucose level. Once the person checks and learns they are hypoglycemic, they are taught what food or drink to take to raise their blood sugar. If the low blood sugar is not treated in time, persistent hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, blackouts, or even coma. Unfortunately, over time (generally after 5 or so years) a person with 1 diabetes no longer feels symptoms when his/her blood glucose is low. This condition is known as Hypoglycemia Unawareness. When hypoglycemia unawareness develops, the person is at much greater risk for the development of persistent hyperglycemia and all of the dangerous problems listed above. Patients have reported feeling ok and not knowing they had low blood sugar until they wake up on the floor, or they have had a seizure. Some don’t realize what happened until they are taken to the hospital. If you are one of these individuals, you probably worry about your next hypoglycemia episode on a daily basis. You would likely feel much better if you were aware of something or someone which could help you monitor and alert your oncoming low blood sugar drop. Well, good news! A diabetes alert dog (DAD) can help you become aware of hypoglycemia even if you don’t feel any different. To give Continue reading >>
*note: We Are No Longer Taking New Service Dog Clients. We Are Not Accepting New Applications. Here’s Why. *
Diabetes Alert Dogs Brooks Labradors Service Dogs™ Diabetic Alert Dogs (more properly referred to as “Diabetes Alert Dogs”) are trained to recognize the “out of range” blood sugar levels experienced by a person with Type 1 Diabetes, and to alert him well before a life threatening seizure or blackout. Diabetes Alert Dogs (DADs) are a relatively new addition to the Service Dog industry and truly amazing companions. We breed and train service dogs to increase the quality of life for children and adults living with Type 1 diabetes, particularly those who experience “hypoglycemic unawareness.” Normally, a person with diabetes can feel their blood sugar dropping or spiking. They may become light headed, drowsy or experience headaches. Diabetics that suffer from hypoglycemia unawareness do not readily feel the effects of a change to their blood sugar and are therefore at a high risk for life threatening seizures and complications, especially while they sleep. Diabetes Alert Dogs can smell a diabetic’s blood sugar dropping or spiking out of range, and alert their diabetic owner/handler in advance of a crisis. DADs are trained to “alert” their owner to the onset of a change in their body’s chemistry and to keep alerting them until the condition is corrected or until they receive the help they need. Diabetes Alert Dogs can help you and your family to enjoy a higher quality of life and safety. Through intense and specialized training, your DAD will be able to “alert” you to check your blood sugar and take corrective action. Owning a Diabetes Alert Dog can help you or someone you love in many ways: Sleep Through The Night – Your DAD can help you and your family to sleep safely through the night, knowing that your dog is trained to alert you in time to pr Continue reading >>
What Are Diabetic Alert Dogs (dads)?
Diabetic Alert Dogs — affectionately known as DADs — are service dogs that are trained specifically to assist diabetics. Their primary task as service dogs is to alert diabetics of an oncoming hypoglycemic or hyperglycemic event (low or high blood sugar!) DADs are able to do this by reacting to particular smells that are emitted from the human body due to chemical shifts caused by either hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia (undetected by a human nose). There are various ways that the dog can alert their human of a low or high blood sugar, which all depends on how it is trained. These skills require rigorous training from professional service dog trainers. In addition to being on alert for blood sugar malfunctions, Diabetic Alert Dogs are known to provide a tremendous amount of love and emotional support to its owner, resulting in an increased sense of security and balance in the daily life of someone with Type 1. How can I find my own DAD? Getting a Diabetic Alert Dog of your very own is a process. The first step is to find a legitimate, accredited organization made up of trainers that will assist you in both the acquiring and the training of your new DAD. Alternatively, there are Diabetic Alert Dog Training schools that will assist in the training and development of the dog of your own choosing. After being matched with the right dog for you, you may be asked to provide a “scent collection kit” so that your dog can learn your body chemistry during its training. Home visits are scheduled in order to begin the bonding process. Organizations & Resources How long do I have to wait for my dog? The average wait time for your DAD to be ready to come home with you for good is approximately six months to a year. What is the cost? The exact cost will depend on the particular o Continue reading >>
Service Dogs That Can Monitor Their Owners’ Diabetes
Hypoglycemia unawareness is a common — and dangerous — condition that can develop in those with type 1 diabetes. This condition means you don’t experience the symptoms most people do when their blood sugar gets too low. Normal symptoms of low blood sugar include sweating, shaking, or confusion. At very low levels, you may experience seizures, or go into a coma if your blood sugar is too low for too long. One of the solutions for this condition is man’s best friend: a diabetes service dog. Dogs have a naturally heightened sense of smell that makes them excellent hunters. Professional trainers have learned to harness these skills by training dogs to recognize certain smells. These could include the fruity smelling ketones a person’s body produces when they are experiencing a hyperglycemic episode when blood sugar is too high, or the unique scent a person gives off during a hypoglycemic episode when blood sugar is too low. A diabetes service dog isn’t a replacement for checking blood sugar levels. However, it is a safeguard for those who experience episodes low or high blood sugar, especially if they do not have warning symptoms. There are several service dog-training programs across the country. Examples include the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs (NIDAD) and Diabetic Alert Dog University. These organizations train a dog to recognize the difference between certain scents. This includes the scent a person releases when their blood sugar is high or low. According to Dogs 4 Diabetics, there are two different levels of service dogs for people with diabetes. Medical response dogs for diabetes are trained to respond to signs that an owner may be experiencing low blood sugar levels, once they have become symptomatic. A diabetic alert dog, on the other hand Continue reading >>
Diabetic Alert Dog, Hypo Alert Dog Training Services Diabetic Service Dogs, Diabetes Alert Dogs, Hypo Alert Dogs
Bedtime is a very stressful time for Alison and our family. Allison’s blood sugar can and has dropped during the night causing her to have a seizure. There is also the risk of Alison falling into a diabetic coma. We decided as a family that we needed a second line of defense for Allison, especially when she is alone or going to sleep. We discovered research about a “Hypo-Alert Dog.” A Hypo- Alert dog is trained to detect changes in a persons blood sugar levels by their scent. Fortunately, Our family dog Ringo qualified for the type of service training we needed. Ringo is a two year old hound mix with just the right temperament and intelligence for service dog training. Ringo went for several weeks of training with Jason Devito, the owner of Canines4hope. We live in close proximity to his facility so Jason came to our house twice a week until Ringo's training was completed. It has now been four months since Ringo finished his service dog training, and he has alerted Allison on three occasions to a blood sugar drop of less than forty. Our family is now able to sleep soundly at night. The additional confidence Ringo now provides gives us the second line of defense we so desired. Allison is going to school in the fall and we have received permission from the University for Ringo to accompany her. Making Ringo a service dog is the single best decision we have made for our daughter. Canines 4 Hope is located in Palm City, Palm Beach County, and The Treasure Coast of Florida. Our Diabetes Alert Dog, Diabetic Service Dog Training services are available to clients nationwide Continue reading >>
Training Service Dogs For Diabetics
Not every dog possesses the qualities necessary for success as a service animal for diabetics. The rigorous training programs used to prepare canines for this lifesaving work identify and prepare dogs that will aptly fill the role of alerting diabetics when medical attention is needed. Best Breeds Dogs from the Labrador and golden retriever breeds are most commonly found working as service animals, according to the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. It's because those breeds are characterized by an overwhelming desire to seek out, develop and maintain strong bonds with human companions. This is a huge plus for a dog destined to have a diabetic person depend on his willingness to focus on the relationship with a human. Other dog breeds showing some promise to work as assistance dogs include Samoyeds and two types of collies -- the smooth coated and the rough coated. German and Australian shepherd dogs also have some potential due to their strong herd mentality, but they must not be prone to nipping when trying to alert diabetics. Scent Training When a diabetic experiences a drop in blood insulin levels, a specific scent is released through the biochemical changes in their body that is easily detected by a dog's keen sense of smell. This is particularly true of Labradors, which have more than 200,000 specific smell sensors that detect scent elements in parts per trillion, according to the Dogs4Diabetics website. Dogs training to assist diabetics are exposed to the scent on the breath of someone experiencing changes in their blood insulin. The dogs are then taught to react to that scent by first staring at the person and then jumping on them gently if the first tactic does not engage the diabetic individual. Another way dogs are trained to alert is by gr Continue reading >>
Type You Support Group
Frequently asked questions about Medical Assistance & Diabetic Alert Dogs What is a Service dog and why does it have special rights for access? Service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities – such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides public access rights for these dogs and their disabled handlers. What is the difference between a Medical Assistance Dog, a Diabetic Alert Assistance Dog and a Medical Response Dog? Medical Assistance Dogs are service dogs that have been trained to respond to an identifiable element that is available to their senses in order to support the medical condition of their handler. Diabetic Alert Assistance Dogs are a specific type of Medical Assistance Dog that has been trained to use their highly sensitive scent capabilities to identify the changes in blood chemistry that occur during rapid changes in blood sugar levels. Medical Response Dogs are another type of Medical Assistance Dog that has been trained to assist persons based on recognition of symptoms pertaining to a specific medical condition. The differences between medical alert and medical response training is the trigger that the dog has been trained to identify. In the case of a Diabetic Alert Dog, the trigger is the change in blood chemistry, allowing the diabetic to treat hypoglycemia prior to becoming symptomatic. A Medical Response Dog for diabetes responds to the handler as symptoms are occurring. D4D’s testing and experience with its clients has shown that there is a 15 to 30 minute difference in this response. How can the dog notify its handler when it se Continue reading >>
Scent Training: First Steps With A Diabetic Alert Dog (video)
Sherlock came to live with me when he was nine weeks old, and we got right to work–crate training, recall and the puppy sit. Then, at four months, I started to take him with me everywhere for socialization–work, read-a-thons, hiking, out to eat and even Universal Studios. After he turned a year, he got his health checks. He has great hips, and an exceptional heart. Now that he’s generally well behaved and in good health, it’s time to start the final phase–scent training. Scent training has three basic components: Odor Alert Reward Sherlock’s first odor is saliva from a diabetic with low blood sugar. I started with low blood sugar because it can quickly progress to a life threatening situation. After completing scent training, he will eventually alert his handler of high or low blood sugar by taking her a bringsel, which is a fancy word for a dog toy. Sherlock’s reward while I’m training him is a quick game of retrieve. In order to train a dog on a scent, you must have scent samples. My sister is diabetic, so when her sugars dropped below 80, she spit into cotton and froze it to help me train Sherlock. The swabs of cotton are labeled with sugar level and date and stored in my freezer until it’s time for a training session. (This is the reason I don’t believe I could train a cadaver dog…body parts in my freezer.) Before I start training sessions with Sherlock, I take the cotton swab out and let it defrost for 30 minutes. Then, the cotton goes into a piece of PVC pipe with holes drilled in it. The first time I worked with Sherlock, I tossed the PVC pipe, with the cotton inside, in the back yard on the lawn. This simple game of retrieve taught Sherlock to associate the smell of low blood sugar with a reward, and for the first week that’s all he neede Continue reading >>
Should I Train My Own Diabetic Alert Dog Or Buy One? Why?
Owner training my first service dog changed my life. I went from all but home bound and not able to do much on my own, to having a life and fully participating in whatever I wanted or needed to do. But it is not for the faint of heart. Even if you have dog experience, service dog training is an extremely intensive, time consuming process. It isn’t a job you can get a day off from. You will love your dog. You will put hours upon hours into training and everything else the puppo needs. And, they still may not make it as a service dog. Even dogs who can do what you need at home may not take to public access in ways that you need. Your dog will need to be able to do tasks but be well behaved enough to be all but invisible in public. That is NOT easy. I am not trying to convince you to NOT owner train. Quite the opposite, in fact. But, I do want you to know what you are getting into. Because once you are in it, you will have this amazing other being that you are responsible for ALL. THE. TIME. If you want to train a dog that can do what you need, you need to be able to be consistent. The rules need to be enforced all the time, not just when you feel up to it or when it is easy. You will run into people who tell you that you can’t have your dog with you, that owner trained dogs are not real service dogs and all kinds of other not fun things. So, if you don’t handle being challenged well, it may not be the right thing for you. Ditto if you don’t like to educate people about service dogs, because there are a lot of people who don’t know anything about it. If none of that has put you off, fantastic. But don’t just go out and pick any dog. Do the work to learn about the temperament you will need and the breeds that are likely to work well. Read up on positive methods Continue reading >>
Types Of Dogs We Train
ICAN trains dogs in a variety of skills that assist children, adolescents, and adults who have physical and/or developmental disabilities. The majority of placements are with clients who live in Indiana. Facilitated Assistance Dogs For children 7 years and older, who have a disability, ICAN will consider partnering a dog in a "three way team partnership". The facilitator is usually a parent ( or may be another adult) who has the responsibility of ensuring the service dog and client are a safe and effective team. For example, a facilitator may: manage the dog when out in public, help actively increase the bond between the dog and client, assure the dogs training, health and safety concerns are met, and help the client interact with the dog. Mobility Assistance Dogs Specially trained for those with movement issues, Mobility Assistance Dogs can perform many tasks that would otherwise be impossible. These dogs can turn on lights, pick up dropped keys or open a door, push automatic door buttons, and carry light packages. Most importantly, these dogs provide their owners with an increased level of independence. Learn more about Mobility Assistance Dogs. First placed by ICAN in 2011, Diabetes Alert Dogs use their amazing sense of smell to detect low blood sugar levels. Type 1 Diabetics that experience Hypoglycemia Unawareness and adverse reactions, or even injury, can be safely alerted by a Diabetes Assistance Dog. PLEASE NOTE: Diabetic must be a minimum of 18 years of age to be eligible to apply for a Diabetic Alert Dog and live within a 50 mile radius of Indianapolis. Learn more about Diabetes Assistance Dogs. Veteran Assistance Dogs for Mobility and PTSD ICAN partners assistance dogs with veterans who have mobility difficulties and also those who have PTSD. Based on the vet Continue reading >>
Can Diabetes Alert Dogs Really Detect Low Glucose Levels?
People are familiar with service dogs and there is general awe regarding a dog’s ability to help humans. Diabetes Alert Dogs (DADs) have become very popular over the past few years and there has been much press regarding their ability to help people with diabetes. However, it’s one thing to hear people talk about what DADs can do, but it’s another to actually prove their ability. Dr. Dana Hardin, a Pediatric Endocrinologist, Wes Anderson, a statistician and Smart Animal Training Systems’ founder, and myself, owner of a service dog company, have been working together on a research project aimed at showing that there is indeed a smell associated with hypoglycemia and that dogs are capable of detecting it. We have been working on this research for a few years now and we’re happy to finally be able to share our results which have been published in Diabetes Therapy. We hope that validating the ability of dogs to smell the difference between low and normal blood sugar samples from people with diabetes will help diabetics to get funding for the dogs. Most of all, it’s the first step in developing standardized methods and procedures in a field where we know so little and where there is so much that we cannot control. This article will first provide background on diabetes and then results from our new study that examined DAD accuracy in detecting low blood sugar scent samples. Background Diabetes is a condition so common that we tend to believe that we know all about it. In fact, diabetes is a growing worldwide epidemic. Yet, most of us have no idea what patients with Type 1 diabetes go through on a daily basis. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is an autoimmune disorder that destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is the hormone Continue reading >>
Diabetic Alert Dogs
Diabetic Alert Dogs Living a balanced life as a Diabetic or diabetes care taker isn’t always easy. With the unconditional support of a Diabetic Alert Dog, that balance becomes a possibility. SDWR’s alert dogs for diabetics provide the stability, safety and support that more Diabetics desire in their life. SDWR places golden retrievers and labrador retrievers, in EXTREME cases due to doctor-verified allergies, we can also place doodles. The SDWR Difference for Diabetes As service dog providers, we’ve seen first hand how Diabetes can affect not only the individual, but his or her family as well. Constant care, a lack of sleep, and unshakable fear from highs and lows are all realities a diabetes care taker faces. Diabetic individuals themselves might have a hard time living life fully, due to the limitations of coping with diabetes. Through SDWR’s highly-trained Diabetic Assistance Dogs, thousands of individuals and families lives have been touched. With our service dogs, those struck by invisible illness can find independence from fear and around-the clock care. Having a service dog as a companion promotes freedom, and keeps you safe from hitting sharp highs and lows. As we know, investing in a Diabetic Alert Dog is a solid investment in your mental and physical health. We Train Our Diabetic Alert Dogs To Help With The Following: High & Low Blood Sugar Alerts Early High/Low Detection Retrieve Third Party Support Retrieve Food & Medication Such as Glucagon, Glucose Tabs, Insulin, Juice , Meters, etc. Dial 911 on a Special Device Public Access Training, Testing, Certifications See Our Dogs In Action Offering Miracles World-Wide To fulfill our mission as accessible service dog providers, SDWR does not have any geographic limitations. We service those with invisible i Continue reading >>
Diabetic Alert Dogs: What Are They?
Diabetic alert dogs are dogs trained to assist people with diabetes - Type I and II, adults and children. They are trained to alert the person or a caregiver to significant fluctuations (low or high) in their glucose levels. A diabetic alert dog is NOT a replacement for regular monitoring. It is an added diabetes management tool. Dogs are trained to recognize the unique smells that result when glucose levels change significantly - these smells are not noticeable to people. If a person's diabetes is well-managed and their glucose levels do not frequently fluctuate, dogs will not be able to help. Dogs are also trained to retrieve items that help with the management of the condition, or get a person for help if needed. If you or a loved one has diabetes, Handi-Dogs can assist you to train a dog to do this work. We will first evaluate your dog to evaluate his natural 'scent' ability. If you want to train for public access, we will also assess your dog for sound temperament. A breed that usually meets both criteria is the Labrador Retriever. However, we work with any dog that shows promise. Brachycephalic breed dogs (short-nosed dogs) are not recommended. For dogs age 5 months and older, click the following link to learn about our program: Learn more about our Service Dog Training a with full public access privileges and how to apply. If you do not need to take your dog out in public with you, and just want it trained to alert at home: Learn more about our In-Home Assistance Dog Training and how to register for lessons. For puppies under the age of 5 months, we can begin the diabetic alert training in your home: Learn more about our In-Home Assistance Dog Training and how to register for lessons. We also recommend that your puppy attend a puppy kindergarten for socialization Continue reading >>
Service Dogs For Diabetics Or Just Pricey Pets?
WASHINGTON (WJLA) – For people dealing with diabetes, having a reliable tool to signal dangerous highs and lows is key. And many are turning to a new option: alert dogs. But some customers of a Virginia company say the ones they signed up to get are nothing more than overpriced pets. The Flores family of Florida hoped Lotus the dog would offer much more than love for 13-year-old diabetic Joel. His mother, Jovana, told ABC7, “In hindsight, now, maybe I should have been a little bit smarter, but you're looking for any bit of hope.” Hope is something promised on the website of a Virginia company advertising miracles. It’s called Service Dogs by Warren Retrievers. Happy clients who have worked with the company emailed the 7 On Your Side I-Team to tell us Warren’s diabetic alert dogs are "priceless" and a "blessing". Others told us dogs from the company "immediately alert" and "saved my child more times than I can count.” Dr. Jonathan Beach, a physician and a diabetic, is one of the company’s satisfied customers. Explaining his dog’s skills, Beach said, “He is consistent in any time I'm not paying attention to my blood sugar, alerting me. He’s imperative to me in that way.” But there are critics. The Virginia Office of the Attorney General has an ongoing investigation with 30 complaints against the company. The 7 On Your Side I-Team asked to review the complaints, but was told they were still active and not public record. Haymarket resident Michele Hunter is among those who have complained to the AG. She signed an $18,000 contract for one of Warren Retrievers’ diabetic alert dogs. But on our visit to the Hunters’ home, Sugar the dog appeared more interested in playing ball than checking blood sugar. When Hunter’s monitor showed 285, what she consi Continue reading >>
Diabetic Alert Dogs: Training Dogs To Think!
Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS Director of Training and Behavior Service Dog Academy - www.servicedogacademy.com Diabetic Alert Dog University - www.diabeticalertdoguniversity.com We train Diabetic Alert Dogs. See our recent interview on New Day Northwest! Follow us on Facebook! Two Diabetic Alert Dog University students waiting patiently for their food puzzle toys and for their Pogo Plush Bunny (used to teach the dogs to play tug and to share toys.) Seattle, Washington has a unique brand of dog trainer at Service Dog Academy. Nowhere else in the Pacific Northwest can people with diabetes learn to train their dogs to alert to blood sugar imbalances. As a part of Service Dog Academy staff, we work hard to get this highly specialized training to more and more people each day. Our dog training studio was founded on the principles that people with disabilities should have affordable resources to live a manageable, independent life, and to us that means being able to train your own service dog. Having first-hand experiences with hypoglycemia and type-2 diabetes, Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, head trainer and founder knows that manageability means a lot to those seeking out a diabetic alert dog. The costs of insurance, medicals services, and peace of mind that they won’t pass out in a shopping mall only to wake up with emergency personnel at their side is worth the work it takes to have a canine companion on the ready to alert when blood sugar starts to drop. As part of her diabetic alert dog training methods, Premier puzzles are a main part of the work to eat strategy. In the wild, dogs had to work for hours on end to find their food, and with a work to eat strategy, it emulates this as best as we can. Here's why we love this method: You get a dog that thinks you’re the cool Continue reading >>