What Does a Blood Sugar Dog Do Exactly?

What Does a Blood Sugar Dog Do Exactly?

Apr 15, 2022

What Exactly Does a Blood Sugar Dog Do?

dog in field

Much like a continuous glucose monitor, but fuzzier and toothier, a blood sugar (BG) dog alerts someone if they detect the scent of blood sugar levels crossing specific ranges. This indicates to a diabetic that their blood sugar is off and helps alert them before the levels get too low or too high. By doing this, a BG dog helps keep a diabetic within normal ranges, aiding in the preparation and prevention of dangerous blood sugar fluctuations.

How Dogs Are Trained to Sniff Out Low Blood Sugar

Experts say (and I can attest) that dogs can detect the subtle odors that occur when declining blood sugar changes body chemistry. During training, dogs are rewarded for offering a behavior when they detect this smell. For example, some dogs have been known to notice blood sugar changes even over the smell of fresh popcorn! For diabetics, this shift and the subsequent alert can be a poke of the nose, licking a hand, or another signaling method. My dog, Cocoa, looks at me earnestly, paws me, and uses her growly voice to say "low blood sugar" or "high blood sugar." Each dog-owner pair will have their unique communication style and relationship.
Once fully trained, dogs will alert not only their owners but also other diabetes sufferers whose body scent indicates blood sugar levels in the trained range. This alert provides a time-gap warning when blood sugar levels are heading in the wrong direction, helping to prevent extreme highs and lows. This can prevent being "knocked out for an hour" due to blood sugar swings, especially during dangerous drops.

The Training Process

Training a blood sugar dog takes months. Beyond basic obedience, there is additional recall and behavior training, advanced recall, and scent work, which can take at least twenty-four months, with ongoing weekly training after the basics are established. A dog must be old enough, have a well-suited temperament, and be trained to be well-mannered and perform their work reliably. While some dogs may not be suitable for all roles, such as assisting blind individuals, they may still excel as blood sugar-alert dogs.


The Benefits of an Alert Dog

Chronic health conditions can be difficult and isolating. An alert dog can bring both medical and psychological benefits, reducing stress and providing companionship.

Consider Training Your Own Blood Sugar Dog

I encourage you to consider training your own pup to help with your blood sugars. I help my clients teach their dogs to be blood sugar alert while I help them with their blood sugars. I've written a guide to help you train your dog to begin alerting you to blood sugar levels. Let me know if you're interested in this guide or have any questions.

Stay healthy and safe in all ways!

Click below to meet with me.

Karin, Diabetic, Health Coach, and Business Consultant