Diabetes Alert Dogs Are Still an Unproven Concept

Dr. Bill Quick Health Pro
  • A year ago, I wrote Diabetes Alert Dogs Are An Unproven Concept. A recent brief report in Diabetes Care, Diabetic Alert Dogs: A Preliminary Survey of Current Users doesn’t change my mind. As I previously pointed out, there aren’t any published peer-reviewed studies to support the claims that DA...

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Published On: April 05, 2013
3 Comments
  • Anonymous
    madmomDADmom
    Apr. 12, 2013

    Dear Doc-

    Come live in my house. sleep in my bed- and get up with me at night while I sneak into my teenage son's room to make sure he's still breathing. Come visit colleges with me and imagine sending him off to sleep in a dorm room far away. We don't expect a DAD to cure our son's Diabetes, but if there is even a tiny bit of hope that a DAD can help watch...

    RHMLucky777

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    Dear Doc-

    Come live in my house. sleep in my bed- and get up with me at night while I sneak into my teenage son's room to make sure he's still breathing. Come visit colleges with me and imagine sending him off to sleep in a dorm room far away. We don't expect a DAD to cure our son's Diabetes, but if there is even a tiny bit of hope that a DAD can help watch over him and keep him safe when we can't be there, why wouldn't we?

    I would gladly help contribute to your survey if you would like to do something productive with your negative thoughts. Until then, sleep in my bed Doc- or keep your negative thoughts to yourself.

  • RobertIA
    Apr. 07, 2013

     

    Dr. Quick,

     

    I can understand your need for scientific proof. However, having observed diabetes service dogs in action, I believe they are capable of performing what they are trained for even if the science is lacking.

     

    Most studies have been undertaken to find the scent that dogs use and so far the dogs have avoided having this secret discovered,...

    RHMLucky777

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    Dr. Quick,

     

    I can understand your need for scientific proof. However, having observed diabetes service dogs in action, I believe they are capable of performing what they are trained for even if the science is lacking.

     

    Most studies have been undertaken to find the scent that dogs use and so far the dogs have avoided having this secret discovered, on the cancer front, the diabetes front, and a few other uses. Then scientists would develop this commercially and these sensing devices would be expensive.

     

    These devices could never replace the dogs and the companionship they provide. This companionship alone can be worth a lot to a person they serve. Michelle in the above comment makes a valid statement when she says that a diabetes alert dog is not for everyone. Most troubles occur when people do not do their homework before considering a diabetes service dog. The dog is a companion 24/7/365 and is not a toy to be put in a corner when you don't want it around.

     

    I also believe that the diabetes service dog or any other service dog for that matter, needs constant reinforcement of their training to be effective for the long term. Therefore, the person (or parents) with the service dog, must always work with the dog in reinforcing their training. Also, play time is important for the service dog.

     

    Dr. Quick, please continue with your beliefs, but allow some slack for those that have diabetes service dogs and know they work as trained even if there is no scientific evidence for or even against their capabilities.

  • Michelle
    Apr. 05, 2013

    Bill, I too am a cynic by nature. When my daughter told us she wanted a DAD, I was initially supportive but cynical. I was supportive because honestly, anything that helped her to see her diabetes in a more positive light was a good thing – and if a puppy kept her from being one of the teenage diabetic horror stories, then I was all for a puppy. But we...

    RHMLucky777

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    Bill, I too am a cynic by nature. When my daughter told us she wanted a DAD, I was initially supportive but cynical. I was supportive because honestly, anything that helped her to see her diabetes in a more positive light was a good thing – and if a puppy kept her from being one of the teenage diabetic horror stories, then I was all for a puppy. But we waited, and decided to try a CGM first. The CGM experience was pretty much a disaster, as she developed a very intense allergic reaction to the sensor and we had to completely stop using it within a few months.

     

    Enter her diabetes alert dog – not a puppy we had to train ourselves, but a dog who was trained for well over a year. While having a dog has absolutely had its challenges, he’s been amazing. He was trained using scent samples to alert at a bg below 85 or below, and he consistently alerts right around that number. We have always checked her bg often, and now we check more often. Since we’ve had our DAD, Sarah hasn’t had to deal with a seriously low blood sugar, as Scout has alerted on each and every one, well before she gets to low levels. She’s a very active child, and we have worked hard to keep her bg in a safely low range. Her A1c has consistently been in the mid 6’s and her Endo has consistently praised her control. But we still dealt with lows somewhat regularly, because of her intense activity and because sometimes she just seems to go inexplicably low.

     

    So while I know our experience isn’t exactly “proof”, it is for us. The meter doesn’t lie and the number of bg’s he’s alerted to between 75-85 are absolute proof to me that he is doing his job. And because he’s doing his job so well, Sarah has been able to treat every low before it became a problem and before she had to feel the yucky low feeling. That makes him absolutely worth the time and money investment.

     

    But a DAD isn’t for everyone, and there are companies out there providing well trained DAD’s and then some which are completely without scruples. I would advise anyone considering a DAD to think carefully, consider wisely and do their research.