Healthy Living

Canine Hope for Diabetics Helps Provide Safety and Independence for Kids

Canine Hope for Diabetics Helps Provide Safety and Independence for Kids

Living with childhood diabetes is tough for everyone involved. Parents constantly worry about their child’s health and more importantly their blood sugar levels. Kids quickly learn that they cannot indulge in sweets and treats like their friends.

But, organizations like Canine Hope for Diabetics are trying to make children's lives easier, and a little brighter. This organization works with young diabetic patients and their families who are managing type 1 diabetes by pairing them with a service dog who is trained to monitor diabetic patients.

Parents of young kids know that diabetes is a 24-7 job, which can be extremely stressful. A specially trained service dog can help the child and family manage the disease and give mom and dad a well-deserved break. Service dogs provide comfort for the family, love and support for the patient.

Traditionally, service dogs have been used to help the blind. However, the service dog industry has evolved and grew to help those with other conditions, like anxiety and depression.  These dogs have been trained to help with navigation, housework, meditation and even school work.  In fact, patients can also get a wide range of service animals to help them manage their conditions, including diabetes.

Diabetic service dogs are trained to become a constant companion for the patient. They learn how to identify when someone’s sugar is too high or too low. They also make sure that help is found if the patient needs assistance. Some households will establish a routine for all members to follow, including blood sugar checks every few hours.  If those levels are off, the service dog will know to alert help immediately.

So how do these specialized service dogs monitor blood sugar in their owners? Good question. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and intuition. Their specialized senses have been used to help people for many years. In fact, aside from being service dogs for the blind, dogs have been used to detect diseases and tumors.

For diabetes-trained service dogs, they sniff out a chemical called isoprene. Dogs are capable of detecting this chemical on their owners once their blood sugar levels increase and decrease. These service dogs are trained to communicate this scent to their owners by either raising or lowering their paw or head.