Many people are surprised to discover that there are service dogs for diabetics. Of course, it is a well-known fact that there are thousands of service dogs assisting people throughout the country, but most people don’t realize the many ways in which these dogs can be trained to assist their ownrs.
Service dogs that assist people with diabetes are trained to detect low blood sugar levels by scent. They are trained to determine blood sugar levels by scent. They also help those who are not classified as diabetic but who suffer from hypoglycemia. For example, if a dog trained in this way was to detect that its owner had dangerously low sugar levels it would alert then by paw or lick him or her. The dog’s owner could then command to the dog to retrieve glucose tabs or other medications. If after pawing and licking the dog does not receive the appropriate command, then the dog would paw at the owner’s arm and chest or begin licking the face to make its alerts more noticeable until it receives the appropriate response or command. The dog may even go on it’s own to retrieve a testing kit or pre arranged food or medical item. Some dogs excel at this more than others and some are naturals who instinctively alert their handler without training.
These dogs are lifesavers, and should be treated as such, yet some difficulties can arise when service dogs are taken into public places. Problems can arise more so when the condition for which the service dog is assisting is not easily visible. Those of us that depend on our service dogs know how important they are. No one should be asked to leave their service dog outside when going into a public place. Yet this very thing may happen if people are unaware of a dog’s service animal status.
Fortunately the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) states that service animals are allowed in all public areas. Not everyone knows this. Because of recently revised ADA requirements for service animals, only two answers need to be given when questioned about a service animal. (1) The dog is required for assistance with a disability and (2) what task the dog has been trained to do.
Unless someone has read the ADA requirements, they will not know this; so most people find it far easier to simply use a vest or identification card to identify their dog as a service animal. These forms of service dog identification make getting around a lot easier and they go a long way in helping to avoid unnecessary confrontations with those ignorant of the law. . No one wants to explain 20 times a day how important their dog is to their health, and if others see a dog identified as a service animal, they will be less likely to prohibit the animal access.
It is important for a person with diabetes to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It sometimes can be difficult to detect when blood sugar is becoming dangerously low or spiking too high. A dog trained to detect these things can be the difference maker. Service dogs for diabetics are more than just companions, they are lifesavers.