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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Diabetes Monitored with Alert Dog's Help

Diabetes monitored with the help of a dog? The dog will help monitor the blood sugar level. This may be a good idea, but $5000 for an alert dog? Perhaps it's good to compare that with the continuous monitoring system. Mind you there have been reports of dogs saving the life of some with a hypoglycemic attack.

Let us take the example of Kristin Rogers who is from North Carolina. She has been a longtime diabetics so she knows the danger of low blood sugar. There are other high tech methods in the market to monitor it but she relies on a golden retriever named Maggie.

It helps that Kristin likes dogs . This helps so it was easy for her to decide to get a golden retriever. After a few months of working with Maggie, Kristin learned to read the signals the alert dog sends her. One time she was cross because the dog kept coming up to the bed where Maggie was. Kristin therefore decided to check her blood sugar and sure enough found she was low.

So while science has not really proven that alert dogs can be such a help, the companies that breed and train them say the dogs are so sensitive to smell that they are able to detect the blood sugar level. Dr. Jean Dostou, the endocrinologist at UNC Health Care said that longtime diabetics can fail to see the signs of low blood sugar.

Dr. Dostou said that the longtime diabetics have lost their epinephrine response so are unable to get the same kind of symptoms that can warn them of low blood sugar. Sometimes her parents have to call her in the middle of the night to remind her to check her blood sugar level.

Kristin Rogers said it happened to her several times that she did not recognize any warning and so she did not wake up to go to work. She didn't even wake up to take her son to school because she was very low. She did not like that to happen to her so she opted to use an alert dog.

Dr. Dostou said that Kristin is the first one she knows who used the alert dog so she cannot say that dogs are effective just like the other methods of monitoring devices. She did admit that dogs can possibly be attuned to her owner's behavior and that may be a warning sign.

Kristin did encounter some challenges with Maggie. For one thing, she had to undergo three weeks of intensive training. Then there is the fact that Maggie is another mouth to feed. Then there is the extra energetic person she has to keep up with. But she needs the exercise so she does not mind this.

There are not too many companies that train dogs to recognize the low blood sugar level. And the cost as mentioned above is around $5000. Insurance may pay for part of the cost. In this case then it may be a good idea to have an alert dog trained in recognizing the symptoms of low sugar in diabetes.

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