Did you know
that 30.3 million people in the United States are living with diabetes? Diabetes is a complex disease affecting
multiple systems throughout the body. It
causes complications such as hypoglycemia which is defined as a blood sugar
level less than 70 mg/dL. Hypoglycemia
can cause dizziness, anxiety, sweating, blurred vision and hunger, just to name
a few symptoms. In 2014, The Centers for
Disease Control reported that hypoglycemia was responsible for 245,000
emergency department visits.
Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator, I teach diabetics to
recognize these symptoms. I often tell
them that although these symptoms may be uncomfortable, they assist in
identification and treatment. If these
symptoms are left untreated, the diabetic could experience seizures and/or
coma. As the diabetic loses their ability to recognize these hypoglycemic
episodes, man’s best friend, a Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) can help.
Alert Dog (DAD) is specially trained to detect changes in a diabetic’s blood
chemistry. These dogs accomplish this by
using their keen sense of smell. The
Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) has undergone specialized training to alert the
diabetic to take quick action in treating hypoglycemia. The Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) is trained to
alert for these changes approximately 15-30 minutes prior to a diabetic
experiencing any symptoms, giving the diabetic an opportunity to treat the
hypoglycemia before it becomes severe.
The Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) will alert the diabetic in several ways to
indicate hypoglycemia including:
bringing objects to the diabetic such as medications or a phone to call
for help or alert a family member.
Alert Dog (DAD) is not meant to replace a blood glucose monitoring device or a
continuous glucose monitor. Rather it
is useful in providing the diabetic with an extra layer of security and a great
companion. The Diabetes Alert Dog is
truly an amazing animal and is covered under the Americans with Disabilities
Act as a service animal. Service
animals wear special vest or a harness and are permitted to accompany the owner
anywhere members of the public are permitted to go. Diabetes Alert Dogs are in high demand. In fact, after you locate an organization the
wait for a dog could be from two months to more than five years and due to the
extensive training, the dogs can be expensive.
The average cost for a Diabetes Alert Dog (DAD) is $2000-$25,000. At this time most, commercial insurance
policies do not cover the cost of a service dog, however, many non-profit
agencies will assist with the cost of the dog.