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Health Advice

April 10, 2012

DADs can be diabetic's best friend

Since starting this column, I have responded to a series of questions regarding low-blood-sugar detection and treatment.

I have left out one of the newer and more exciting modalities for the detection of low sugars. I have been going through the selection process myself and was hoping to have as much experience as possible to write about.

Diabetic Alert Dogs are service dogs that are trained to detect changes in a patient's blood sugar by scent. With proper training, these animals can detect blood-sugar changes 20 to 30 minutes before the event occurs. They can be trained to notify the patient or family members of a blood-sugar issue and can also learn to retrieve blood-testing equipment or snacks.

Although a new concept, a few companies train service dogs for patients with diabetes.

As I am participating in this process, I will relate my experiences. Please note that depending on the company you choose to work with, details may be different. Regardless of my personal participation, the Northeast Center for Diabetes Care and Education will be working to raise money for local patients interested in Diabetic Alert Dogs (DAD). I feel this is an excellent method to provide enhanced security to people with diabetes.

After considerable research on the Internet and multiple phone conversations, I decided to move forward with Guardian Angel Service Dogs. This is an arm of Warren Retrievers, a group that trains Labrador retrievers for service work.

When a litter is born, they go through some rigorous testing to identify those puppies with the highest quality scent ability. After selection, the pups are put through a battery of rigorous testing to identify energy levels and behavioral responses.

Soon after deciding to go through with a DAD, I had an extensive phone interview to assist the trainer with my selection. They were questioning me to identify energy and activity levels, as well as what sort of life the DAD may be expected to work.

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