There are many tools to use in dealing with diabetes, and the Diabetic Alert Dog is one more tool to add to the toolbox used to help families deal with their child who has diabetes.
With the use of a Diabetic Alert Dog the child can gain the independence they need as they grow up and mature and the parents are not afraid to allow them to do so.
Here at 4 Paws we place Diabetic Alert Dogs with children who have insulin-dependent Type 1 Diabetes.
As with all medical alert dogs, Diabetic Alert Dogs are trained to smell the chemical body changes that occur as the insulin levels increase or drop. When a child is experiencing a high or low, their body is releasing chemicals that change their typical scent.
A 4 Paws Dog with the right training in scent-based work is able to respond to those chemical changes, at the onset of the changes long before any adverse medical reactions occur, by alerting the parents or caregivers to the change at its onset. The parents and/or child are then able to check their blood sugar level and take appropriate action.
Training Diabetic Alert Dogs for children means that we must train a dog that is unique in its ability to meet the needs of both the child with diabetes and the child’s family. Most agencies do not work with children, especially very young children.
Here at 4 Paws we have no minimum age requirement and believe strongly in early intervention. In addition to the alert work, these dogs provide a measure of comfort for the child, increased self-esteem and confidence, a distraction during unpleasant medical procedures, and of course companionship.