About Diabetic Alert Dogs
About Diabetic Alert Dogs
“The more severe form of diabetes is type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes. It’s sometimes called “juvenile” diabetes, because type 1 diabetes usually develops in children and teenagers, though it can develop at any age. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why. But the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as "autoimmune" disease. These cells – called “islets” (pronounced EYE-lets) – are the ones that sense glucose in the blood and, in response, produce the necessary amount of insulin to normalize blood sugars. Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter -- and allow you to use the glucose for energy. Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar stays -- and builds up-- in the blood. The result: the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose. And, if left untreated, the high level of “blood sugar” can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the heart, and can also lead to coma and death.
Normal symptoms of low blood sugar include sweating, shaking, or confusion. At very low levels, you may experience seizures, or go into a coma if your blood sugar is too low for too long. One of the solutions for this condition is man’s best friend: a diabetes service dog. At Maggie’s Hope, it is our goal to provide a service dog to a child with Type 1 Diabetes. Dogs have a naturally heightened sense of smell that makes them excellent hunters. Professional trainers have learned to harness these skills by training dogs to recognize certain smells. These could include the fruity smelling ketones a person’s body produces when they are experiencing a hyperglycemic episode when blood sugar is too high, or the unique scent a person gives off during a hypoglycemic episode when blood sugar is too low. A diabetes service dog isn’t a replacement for checking blood sugar levels. However, it is a safeguard for those who experience episodes low or high blood sugar, especially if they do not have warning symptoms. This is especially helpful for children who may not understand when it is time to check their blood sugar levels. A service dog will not only help them remind them to check, but will also be a great companion and a potential life saver. We at Maggie’s Hope have seen with our own eyes what these service dogs can do, and it is truly amazing. Help us achieve our goal of providing service dogs to children with Type 1 Diabetes and bringing awareness to this disease.”