Low Blood Sugar Alert Dogs

People with diabetes may have another option for monitoring whether their blood sugar level is dangerously low. According to a recent news post on, diabetes alert dogs are helping people by alerting them when their blood sugar is dropping to a level that may lead to a loss of consciousness. Although the studies are finding that typical continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) are still more reliable and effective, the dogs are actually detecting low blood sugar somewhat consistently. What hasn't been clear is how the dogs can detect the drop, whether through smell or sensing early warning signs, like twitching or sweating.

According to a study by Diabetes Care, the dogs may be smelling a particular substance in the person's breath that rises as blood sugar falls. The study explains that when patients were given insulin to induce hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), levels of one of the most common VOCs in human breath, called isoprene, were found. The article states that these dogs are likely trained to smell these VOCs in the breath of their owners. Although the studies are finding that dogs only alert the owners a small percentage of the time accurately, the fact it’s possible is the real news.

This has the potential to be a big breakthrough in diabetes care. Because the science behind this is very new and still has a lot to be investigated, there's currently no accepted test to enure that a dog is competent at detecting falling glucose levels, but there are some well-established training standards. Dogs that have been thoroughly trained can cost approximately $20,000, and again because of the new science behind this, will typically not be covered by insurance. However, if you're seeking the support of a diabetic service dog, some nonprofit organizations may be able to help.

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