Dogs for Diabetics

Have No Fear, DAD is here! The latest breakthrough in treatment for diabetes comes in the form of a furry, four-legged friend.

For people living with diabetes, DAD no longer only refers to the fatherly figure in the family. But rather to a Diabetic Alert Dog. Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD) are imprinted from birth with specific scents or odors of chemical that the human body emits. Some odors indicate high blood sugar, and others indicate low blood sugar levels.

Why are dogs so good at this job? Though humans only have about five million nose receptors, dogs have 250 million nose receptors! This enables them to detect the changes in the smells of a person’s breath.  High blood sugar levels correspond with more sweet-smelling breath, while low blood sugar levels correspond with acidic smelling breath.

The Gaston Gazette (Gastonia, N.C.) featured a story on a local man and his DAD, a chocolate lab named Radar. Tony McCraw was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 22. Radar is McCraw’s DAD that joined the family at 13-weeks old. Radar is extremely helpful to McCraw because the pooch can detect changes in his owner’s blood sugar level. This happens even before the changes would register on a blood-sugar meter—which is one reason DADs are so valuable. When Radar detects a change, he alerts McCraw every 10-15 minutes until his blood sugar levels are normal again. This is only one example in which Radar aids McCraw with his diabetes.

To read more on the incredible work of Diabetic Alert Dogs and to continue reading the personal story of Tony McCraw and his service dog, Radar, click here.

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