Dogs4Diabetics is Saving Lives with a New Breed of Assistance Dog
Diabetic Man Discovers Dogs Detect Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes affects tens of millions of people and causes those affected to need periodic insulin injections for the rest of their lives. When untreated the disease is ultimately fatal; however, even when treated, diabetic patients bear the risk of suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). For diabetic patients, entering a hypoglycemic state puts them at risk for seizures, brain damage, or death.
Mark Ruefenacht of Dogs4Diabetics has discovered a way to train dogs to detect a hypoglycemic state before it affects the diabetic and even before it is detectable by a glucose meter. Currently, most diabetic users rely on a glucose meter to check their blood sugars. This can be a problem if their blood sugar drops at an unexpected time, such as after a meal or while the diabetic is sleeping- as is currently the case for over 50% of hypoglycemic episodes. D4D is unique in its ability to inform diabetics in real-time that their blood sugar is dropping.
Due to their heightened sense of smell, according to the research performed by D4D, dogs can smell the chemical change in humans when their blood sugar drops. Furthermore, their research actually found that dogs are able to notice a drop in blood sugar up to 30 minutes before it is detectable by a glucose meter. This not only allows patients to take preventative steps but it also allows peace of mind to those who have previously been at the mercy of a strict testing schedule to ensure that their blood sugar level is on point.
Do You Have What It Takes to be an Assistance Dog?
Dogs that are trained by D4D must meet a specific standard set by Assistance Dogs International (ADI), a group which sets standards for assistance dogs and rescue dogs throughout the world. ADIs requirements are what each dog might aspire to, as ADI certified dogs are trained to be calm, personable, and obedient.
To achieve ADI certification, dogs must meet a series of requirements such as the ability to perform at least three tasks that assist a particular disability, to never bark or whimper unnecessarily, and to defecate and urinate on command. Despite their strict training, ADI certified dogs aren't all business. As many of the dogs work with children, they are quite playful and welcome petting and attention. ADI dogs not only serve as heroes to the people they work with but also as loyal friends.
It's not only the dogs that need to meet certain standards according to ADI. Those who work with ADI certified dogs must meet certain criteria set out by the association to ensure that they can care for the dogs properly. These dogs are valuable assets to the health community, and as such, they need to be treated a certain way. Assistance dog partners need to care for the dog's grooming and medical needs and to practice the dog's skills regularly to ensure it remains properly trained.
Dogs4Diabetics and You
For the past nine years, Reufenacht has been training dogs and donating them to those who suffer from type 1 diabetes; however, D4D is far from making this resource readily available for everyone that suffers from the disease. Today, it is estimated that 5 million people in the United States suffer from hypoglycemia as a side-effect from treating their diabetes with insulin. If you would like to work with D4D or make a donation, you can check out their website and their ABC's of D4D program.
Dogs 4Diabetics is just one of the many charities EntirelyPets works with including the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, US military dogs, and K-9 Unit Police Dogs. For more on Dogs4Diabetics, visit their website here.