Labor Day Love: Diabetes Alert Dogs
On Labor Day, we salute American workers — including those who serve with all four paws. Hardworking service dogs are often found assisting those with visual and mobility impairments, but they also serve in lesser known roles. In honor of Labor Day, we're shining a spotlight on medical alert dogs for people with diabetes.
Photo Credit: "Man's Best Friend" by swong95765 via Flickr.
For people with diabetes who depend on insulin, hypoglycemia is a threat every day. Hypoglycemia — when blood glucose levels drop too low — causes the sudden onset of a diverse set of symptoms that range from shakiness and confusion to dizziness and weakness, and can ultimately result in a loss of consciousness.
Medical alert dogs for diabetics offer a solution. These clever canines have been trained to spot subtle scents that signal a change in their pal's blood sugar. Thanks to that incredible talent — and, if necessary, being able to dial 911 or fetch food — medical alert dogs help people with diabetes maintain more stable blood glucose levels and prevent dangerous lows.
But How Do the Dogs Know?
How are these dogs so smart? Researchers have pinpointed a chemical — isoprene — that increases before an episode of hypoglycemia, and diabetes alert dogs are trained to detect this scent. The human nose is not sensitive enough to note this chemical change, but dogs — those amazing creatures — possess this ability.
Naturally, diabetes alert dogs undergo deep training to help them sniff out the dangerous chemical change, and they're also trained to react with the necessary responses in an emergency. (And you were proud when your dog learned to shake!)
So Many Service Dogs
Medical alert dogs are also trained for many other tasks, including predicting seizures and recognizing heart attacks. There are also autism service dogs who help provide interaction and support for people with autism. Experts believe the incredible history of service dogs dates back to ancient Rome. And today, thousands of them work tirelessly to care for their people every day, whether they're retrieving medication, helping with behavior modification or providing alerts in life-threatening situations. Are dogs awesome, or what?
Ready to Help?
Service dogs make a huge difference in the lives of so many. If you would like to help, why not contact one of the many organizations that train and certify medical alert dogs? Even if you're not a training pro, volunteers help support the work of service dogs through coordinating fundraising efforts, raising awareness and handling the business aspects of these organizations. Volunteers and donations help ensure service dogs are available to those who need them most.
So as we kick back on this Labor Day, let's take some time to appreciate the efforts and devotion of America's hardworking service dogs and the difference they make each day.
Interested in teaching your old dog (or new one!) new tricks? Check out our Pet Places map to find training facilities in your area.
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