Who wouldn’t want a dog to help them with their diabetes?! A cute, cuddly creature who can also save your life–sounds too good to be true. Well, it might be. Read on to learn the truth about diabetes dogs.

Diabetes Alert Dogs: What can they do?

Certain studies have shown that many diabetes alert dogs are capable of alerting their owners when their sugar is out of range. The dogs can do this by detecting certain scents in the air that indicate if their owner’s blood sugar is too high or low. These scents come from the owner’s breath. The dog is then trained to alert its owner to these dangerous blood sugar levels through a certain movement, touch, bark, or something similar.

Many people with diabetes feel more at ease knowing they are not alone in detecting dangerous blood sugar levels. Usually the dog is not their first stop for checking blood sugars. Diabetes alert dogs are often used in emergency situations, or instances where the owner is not as fully capable of detecting their own blood sugars.

Pros & Cons of Getting a Diabetes Alert Dog

While we talked about the pros of what a diabetes alert dog can do, it is important to note that there is some skepticism about their abilities. There are a growing number of cases of owners who say their service dogs are not capable of detecting their blood sugars. It really ends up coming down to the dog, its abilities, training, and many other factors. The main takeaway here: there is no guarantee that a dog you purchase will be able to catch your highs & lows.

Additionally, diabetes alert dogs can be extremely expensive, ranging from $8,000 – $15,000, and beyond. Most patients with diabetes have enough expenses to worry about, such as medication, supplies, devices, etc. Oftentimes, diabetes alert dogs are purchased through the help of nonprofits, online donations, and charities.

However, it is also important to note the many other benefits dogs can pose for people with diabetes (and those without)!

Emotional Support

  • There’s no denying the emotional support dogs provide for many people around the world. Diabetes can be a taxing condition, sometimes making patients feel sad or alone. The bond between a dog and its owner is special, unique, and sometimes way more important than the bonds we form with other people! As the cliche shows, a dog really can be your best friend. Having a strong support system, even if that does include a furry creature, is an important tool in managing diabetes.
  • Dogs can help lower stress levels, relieve feelings of loneliness, and give you a sense of purpose in life. Studies have shown that dog owners “[have] greater self esteem, were more conscientious, were more extroverted, tended to be less fearful, and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.”
  • Another unique benefit of owning a dog is it can be a great lesson for responsibility and accountability! Many young couples may decide to get a dog before having children. A dog can also teach children valuable life lessons.

A Reason to Get Moving

  • Walking your dog once or twice a day is a great method of exercise! Regular exercise can help with blood sugar regulation.
  • Playing with your dog at a dog park is a good way to socialize, meet new people, and get active in the community.
  • Committing to a dog also means committing to a healthier lifestyle! Once you have a dog to take care of, you know you’ll at least be getting a certain level of activity in your daily routine each day.

Possibly Helpful in Tough Situations

  • While diabetes alert dogs may not be the best option for some patients, that doesn’t mean dogs can’t still be lifesavers–or at least they’re often able to provide a helping paw.
  • If you fall in your home, your dog may be able to help alert others, such as neighbors, who can hear your dog barking.
  • Many dogs are easily trainable. With the right resources, time, and effort, you can train your dog to help you with everyday tasks!
Summary In summary, it’s ultimately up to you whether you want to pursue getting a diabetes alert dog. They definitely help many people with diabetes! It’s also important to consider the facts, costs, and other factors. If you have the money to spend, a dog can be a great addition to your family; but you will not have a guarantee that the dog will be able to effectively alert you of your blood sugars. But rest assured knowing that getting a dog, trained or not, has many, many benefits for you and your health!