These dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions on a day to day basis. The dogs are taught to identify the odour changes that are associated with certain medical events. For example for someone living with diabetes, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) or the avoidance of it can be a daily problem. This condition is frightening and very distressing, symptoms can vary from confusion, seizures to comas and be life threatening.
Our Medical Alert Dogs are trained to recognise low blood sugar levels, as these levels give off a different scent compared with blood sugars that are within the normal range. When outside the normal range our dogs, once trained, can warn and get help before the symptoms are felt. Depending on their ‘owners’ need the dogs will alert in a variety of ways eg. by barking, jumping up, licking or pawing. They will bring their owner any necessary medical supplies such as glucose and blood testing kits and get help if necessary. They can also be trained to push alarm buttons.
The same process applies to someone with Addisons disease. Characteristics’ during an Addisonian crisis include severe pain, vomiting, confusion, convulsions, loss of consciousness life threatening and serious rapid drop in blood pressure. Our Alert Dogs quickly bring vital medical supplies and get help.
We are now working with Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust & Bristol University to try and establish exactly what it is the dogs are detecting.
We continue to investigate other debilitating and life threatening conditions which our dogs may have the potential to detect. These include, severe pain seizures which lead to collapse and hospitalisation, severe allergic responses and narcolepsy, a malfunction of the sleep/wake regulating system which causes sleep attacks and paralysis.
We know that by working alongside the medical profession, these dogs have the potential to help and save thousands of lives. For those living with a life threatening and disabling health conditions having an Medical Alert Dog can make all the difference. Not only can they can reduce the cost of NHS care and hospital admissions but more importantly give their ‘owners’ a better quality of life, freedom, independence and help reduce the responsibility of care for carers as well.