How To Get A Diabetic Service Dog-Hypoglycemia is a common and dangerous condition that can develop in those with type 1 diabetes. This condition means that you do not experience the symptoms most people do when their blood glucose becomes too low. Normal symptoms of low blood sugar are sweating, shaking or confusion. At very low levels, you may encounter seizures, or go into a coma if your blood glucose is too long too low. One of the solutions to this condition is the best friend of man: a Diabetes service dog.
Dogs have a naturally heightened sense of smell that makes them excellent hunters. Professional trainers have learned to use these skills by training dogs to recognize certain odors. These could produce the fruit smell ketones a person body produces when you experience a hyperglycemic episode when the blood sugar is too high, or the unique fragrance a person gives up during a blood glucose-lowering episode when blood sugar is too low.
A diabetes service dog is not a substitute for reviewing blood sugar. However, it is a protection for those who experience episodes of low or high blood sugar, especially if they have no warnings symptoms.
Who trains service dogs?
There are several service dog training programs throughout the country. Examples include the National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs (Nidad) and Diabetic Alert Dog University.
These organizations train a dog to recognize the difference between certain fragrances. This includes the fragrance a person releases when their blood sugar is high or low.
After Dogs 4 diabetics, there are two different levels of service dogs for people with diabetes. Medical Response dogs for diabetes are trained to respond to signs that an owner may have experienced low blood glucose levels if they have become symptoms. A diabetic alert dog, on the other hand, is trained to detect changes in the blood chemistry of a person who often allows the dog to take the person or caregiver to action in the important window of time 15 to 30 minutes before symptoms occur.
Dog breeds are trained to meet diabetic alert dog obligations:
Mixed Sporting dog breeds
If a person has a dog you want to train to a diabetes alert dog, you can submit it for examination to determine if the dog has the temperament and odor ability required. Most service dogs are between 1 and 2 years old when they are placed with their owners after Nidad.
Dogs are trained to respond in different ways to an owner who is having a high or low blood glucose episode. Examples include:
Keep a certain toy as a signal in your mouth
Jumping on the owner
Sitting and staring at the owner
Contact of the owner with the nose
Dogs may also have other activities, in addition, to alert their owners to changes in blood sugar. These can include:
Alert other family members when an owner needs help
Bringing needed items, such as medications
Get a mobile phone for support
In some cases, select 911 with a special device when help is needed
Dogs 4 Diabetics, a provider of diabetic service dogs, estimates the cost of breeding, raising, and training a dog that can detect diabetic emergencies at around $35,000. There are also nonprofit agencies that have diabetic service dogs at low cost, and sometimes even free, but their waiting list tends to belong.
How To Get A Diabetic Service Dog?
You can use a professional organization such as assistance Dogs International to find out more about programs in your area that can train diabetic service dogs. You can also ask your Endocrinologist for recommendations for potential dog training organizations.
You can also contact organizations that train service dogs directly. Many of you have online applications where a person who is interested in a service dog can find out more. Many organizations will ask questions about:
Your medical history
Letter (s) of the reference, which may be personal or professional
Application form with information about your address, age, etc.
The selection and the matching procedure may vary depending on the organization. The selection process can be extensive and often requires that a potential owner meets with a dog several times before the dog is specially trained to recognize the specific fragrance of the owner.
What should you consider before using a service dog?
Not all people with diabetes can benefit from, or need, a diabetes service dog. Examples of people who could benefit from service dogs include:
The With hypoglycemia
Those who control their blood sugar with an insulin pump or injections
Those who experience low blood sugar often
Children who require frequent blood glucose tests at night
College students who now live away from home and require additional support
If you or a loved one do not experience frequent episodes of hypoglycemia or you are able to control your blood sugar with oral medications, you may not have the extra cost and responsibility of a service dog
In terms of expenses, insurance companies can pay for the costs associated with a diabetes service dog. However, their owners are often required to carry health insurance for the dog, as well as for food and other veterinary expenses related to the care of the dog. Having a diabetes service dog is an investment in time and money, and is a relationship that ideally will be at least a decade for the dog and owner.
What are some challenges with a service dog?
Having a service dog is an obligation on the part of the owner to take the necessary time to build a bond with a service dog to make sure that they can work well together. A dog can “work” with its owner, but developing a loving bond is also very important.
An owner must also take care of their dog by feeding, bathe, be exercising, and groom regular veterinary appointments. For those who were unable to obtain a service dog from insurance coverage, they may also be responsible for significant costs in obtaining the dog as well.
What are the benefits of a service dog?
There are certain time commitments and responsibilities associated with caring for a service dog, but the rewards can be great. According to a study published in the magazine Diabetes Care, by the American Diabetes Association, the owner of a diabetic alert dog reported the following benefits:
Decreased concern for hypoglycemia/hyperglycemia (61.1 percent of respondents)
Improved quality of life (75 percent of respondents)
Increased capacity to participate in physical activities (75 percent of respondents)
It can be a lot of time, money, and training to place a diabetes alert dog with an owner. If you are considering this opportunity, contact an organization with a long history of successful placement of dogs with owners.
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