Previous studies have suggested that some pet dogs respond to their owners’ hypoglycaemic state. Here, we show that trained glycaemia alert dogs placed with clients living with diabetes afford significant improvements to owner well-being. We investigated whether trained dogs reliably respond to their owners’ hypoglycaemic state, and whether owners experience facilitated tightened glycaemic control, and wider psychosocial benefits. Since obtaining their dog, all seventeen clients studied reported positive effects including reduced paramedic call outs, decreased unconscious episodes and improved independence. Owner-recorded data showed that dogs alerted their owners, with significant, though variable, accuracy at times of low and high blood sugar. Eight out of the ten dogs (for which owners provided adequate records) responded consistently more often when their owner’s blood sugars were reported to be outside, than within, target range. Comparison of nine clients’ routine records showed significant overall change after obtaining their dogs, with seven clients recording a significantly higher proportion of routine tests within target range after obtaining a dog. HbA1C showed a small, non significant reduction after dog allocation. Based on owner-reported data we have shown, for the first time, that trained detection dogs perform above chance level. This study points to the potential value of alert dogs, for increasing glycaemic control, client independence and consequent quality of life and even reducing the costs of long-term health care.
Rooney, N. J., Morant, S., & Guest, C. (2013). Investigation into the Value of Trained Glycaemia Alert Dogs to Clients with Type I Diabetes. PLoS ONE, (10.1371/journal.pone.0069921). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0069921