Sweet Smell of Health

June 23 | 1 Comment

You're ready for your insulin shot nowToday’s story: not weird, not crazy just another reason to love us four legged, fuzzy creatures.

That’s right, not only are we adorable, non-judgemental and eager to please, but now we’re also getting into the human healthcare game.

Turns out our noses are life savers. No, not the green, red or yellow variety but the soul saving kind. A sniff here and a sniff there and we can tell whether a diabetic’s blood sugar falls to a dangerous level.

Of course it is at this point the true test of being man’s best friend comes into play. Ask yourself, are you going to give up that Butterfinger bar in your fur suit to save that human?

While you decide, Reuters has the details on the research.

AYLESBURY, England (Reuters) – Dogs are being trained in Britain as potential life-savers to warn diabetic owners when their blood sugar levels fall to dangerously low levels.

Man’s best friend already has been shown capable of sniffing out certain cancer cells, and dogs have long been put to work in the hunt for illegal drugs and explosives.

Their new front-line role in diabetes care follows recent evidence suggesting a dog’s hyper-sensitive nose can detect tiny changes that occur when a person is about to have a hypoglycemic attack.

A survey last December by researchers at Queen’s University Belfast found 65 percent of 212 people with insulin-dependent diabetes reported that when they had a hypoglycemic episode their pets had reacted by whining, barking, licking or some other display.

The move into diabetes followed the case of Paul Jackson, who told Guest and her team about his dog Tinker who warns him when his sugar levels get too low and he is in danger of collapsing.

“It’s generally licking my face, panting beside me. It depends how far I have gone before he realizes,” Jackson said.

Tinker has now been trained by the Aylesbury center and is a fully qualified Diabetic Hypo-Alert dog, complete with red jacket to announce himself as a working assistance animal.

The center is continuing work to perfect dogs’ ability in spotting signs of cancer. But while dog-lover Guest says it would be nice to have a dog in every doctor’s office to screen for disease, ultimately that is not practical.

Instead, she hopes the research will lead to the invention of an electronic nose that will mimic a dog’s.

Good luck with that electronic nose idea. The only one I’ve ever seen was the one on the patient in the game of Operation, and even then it only lit up when I tried to get the funny bone out too quickly with my big mitts.


One Response to “Sweet Smell of Health”

  1. Betty on July 25th, 2009 5:59 am

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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