Diabetes alert dogs boost quality of life
Medical detection dogs who help people with diabetes manage their condition have helped improve their quality of life, according to research.
The study also showed that alert dogs have helped reduce diabetes-related anxiety and fears of hypoglycaemia.
The data was collected from 21 people who have diabetes and a medical alert assistance dog and the findings concluded that “the presence of a diabetes alert dog was associated with beneficial effects for patients with impaired hypoglycaemia awareness in all age groups and in parents of children with diabetes”.
The charity Medical Detection Dogs is planning further research to look at whether diabetes alert dogs have an impact on glycaemic management of the condition, as well as the frequency and severity of hypos.
Claire Pesterfield, who is a diabetes specialist nurse at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, said: “The dogs have saved hundreds of hospital admissions. These dogs are hugely beneficial and are trained and accredited to international standard of training and obedience.”
There are 60 medical alert dogs in the UK and it takes around 18 months to train them.
The dogs which specialise in working with people who have diabetes and hypoglycaemia unawareness and are trained to detect their owner’s sugar highs and lows.
They will alert the person until they see their owner checking their blood.
The dogs are provided free of charge, with the charity relying on donations to continue their work but Claire said the waiting list has caused people to go elsewhere.
She said: “Our biggest concern is people are buying these assistance dogs from rogue dog trainers who are charging £6,000. These dogs are not properly trained and have no standards to adhere to regarding accuracy or reliability. We know people don’t want to wait so if they have the money they go and buy one.
“I’m hearing stories of families who have gone out and bought a dog but because it is not fully trained or accredited but they are actually putting their child at more risk.”