Life Saving Dogs – In Ways You Didn’t Imagine

From the humble seeing eye dog the role of dogs in healthcare has exploded to new unexpected areas including seizure alert and cancer detection:

Dogs can be trained to detect low blood sugar levels in diabetics by picking up scents that go unnoticed by humans. Upon detection, the dog springs into action—”kind of like sounding an alarm,” Dr. Johnson says. Dogs may nudge the diabetic, fetch a blood-glucose monitoring kit or press a button on the phone to call 911.

Researchers don’t know what exactly enables a dog to detect seizures, but some dogs may notice a certain scent or subtle behavioral change that occurs right before an attack. Teaching a dog to pick up on these signs is difficult, Dr. Johnson says, and many seizure-response dogs simply have an innate ability to recognize when something is wrong. During the attack, dogs can seek help, move dangerous objects out of the way and lie next to the person.’

Are dogs as good at detecting low blood sugar as a Glucometer? No. But they can do it in real time and without a blood sample.

This can be vital for certain patients. For example if the diabetic is a young child.

It is not known how dogs detect seizures or low blood sugar. Unfortunately it is not possible to train dogs for those tasks. However researchers are getting better at exploring dogs’ natural abilities.

My prediction is – expect to see many more dogs ‘working’ in hospitals in the years to come.

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About Dr Vadim Chelom

Dr Vadim Chelom is a Registered Veterinarian, a writer and an educator

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