Research

How Can Dogs Help In Managing Diabetes?

Keeping pets is a common practice around the world. In fact, people have had friendly interactions with animals for a long time. Who does not like coming home to a furry buddy after a long day of work? Most of your friends own pets as well.

Research on such house animals shows that they can help in a lot of issues related to health. For instance, playing with pets can help in managing stress, anxiety, and depression. Pets will typically try their best to calm you down. Dogs and cats are by far the most common choices in pets.

Dogs, specifically, are nowadays trained to do a lot more than just running around and playing. Historically, dogs have been used for the protection of houses, pantries and for herding animals. Today, you will see the dogs are not only helping the police and fire department but the health professionals as well!

How does this work? Dogs can be trained to do wonders ranging from detection of illegal drugs at the airport to that of cancerous tumors. You have probably heard of ‘service dogs’ which are there to help people struggling with specific health conditions.

For example, trained canines can help people with physical disabilities such as impaired vision. They may also be helpful for people with issues such as PTSD and epilepsy. What else are dogs good for? Recent research sheds light on how dogs may even help you manage diabetes.

How Was the Research Conducted?

Researchers, led by Nicola Rooney, from the University of Bristol, based their researchers on whether or not dogs can detect hypoglycemia episodes in diabetic people.

Read the research here. 

Hypoglycemia is a big concern for people with diabetes – especially those who have type 1. Patients usually need to inject insulin to stabilize their otherwise high blood sugar levels. While this treatment is effective, it may lead to negative effects such as a hypoglycemic episode.

In an episode, a person feels dizzy and weak and usually passes out. If not managed at the right time, it may even cause a seizure. The researchers teamed up with a UK-based charity called Medical Detection Dogs to see whether dogs can help in such a situation.

They worked with and observed people suffering from diabetes who also kept dogs, some of which were trained from the MDD charity.

The breeds of dogs used in the research were  Labrador retriever, golden retriever, lurcher, cocker spaniel, Yorkshire terrier, Labrador retriever and golden retriever cross, poodle, collie cross, and Labradoodle.

The team looked at blood samples of the patients in the 12 weeks after the study. They also noted how many times the dogs were able to alert and detect a potential hypoglycemic episode in their owners.

The dogs are able to do this by detecting the smell signals the health professionals link with signs of low blood sugar. During training, they also learn to alert the owner of the potential episode.

What Were the Results?

After checking over 4,000 cases of both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, it was concluded that the dogs were successfully able to warn their owners about hypoglycemia in 83% of the cases.

There was sufficient evidence on how dogs improve the lifestyle of people living with such health conditions before. However, this was the first large-scale study on the subject.

The researchers state that while suggests that keeping a dog is indeed a good idea for people with particular health conditions, the training of the dog is equally important.

The dog must be trained correctly to detect the specific signals of the health condition as well as the ways in which to alert its owner. Additionally, forming a connection with your furry friend is also important. So, if you are thinking of getting a dog, you may as well get a trained one especially if you suffer from a similar health issue!

 

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