Top Diabetic Assistance Dog Breeds – Service Dogs for People with Diabetes
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 10 American adults has diabetes. The CDC estimates that If trends continue, that figure is expected to double or triple by 2050.
Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a myriad of serious complications. It can cause damage to small and large blood vessels and organs. This can often lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, nerve damage, and eye disease, among other often serious complications.
Our best friend, the dog, has always maintained a special intuition into the needs of his people with some recent studies suggesting that the dog played a key role in modern humans becoming the sole human species beating out other hominids, such as the Neanderthals. This virtuous circle of cooperation saw humans and their canine friends get stronger, together, over time. A topic we look forward to covering in a future video.
The days of requiring our friend to help us hunt are long gone, but he still retains his close bond with us. A bond, that when properly harnessed, can help us battle a crippling disease. Let’s find out how these Diabetic Service Dogs, often called Diabetic Alert Dogs, are assisting as we fight a growing foe.
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We’ll get the top breeds used as Diabetic Service Dogs in a bit, but first, let’s see how these dogs help their handlers fight an invisible enemy.
As a culture, the term Diabetes is a familiar one. Most of us know at least one person suffering from diabetes. But, what is it?
Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases that involves high blood sugar or glucose levels. Every cell in your body needs energy to function. When you eat, your body breaks down foods that have carbohydrates into glucose. While this happens, your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin.
Insulin acts as a “key.” It allows the glucose to go from the blood into the cells. It also helps you store energy. Insulin is a vital part of metabolism. Without it, your body isn’t able to function or perform properly. Managing diabetes requires keeping close track of blood glucose levels. Treatment may include taking insulin or other medications to help your body reduce the high glucose levels.
Our canine friend steps in with one of his keenest senses – his sense of smell. According to Diabetic Alert Dogs of America, “Our bodies are a unique makeup of organic chemicals – all of which have very specific smells. Low and high blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia/ hyperglycemia, release chemicals in the body that have a distinct odor that is undetectable by humans. Our training process positively motivates these dogs to alert when these odors are detected.”
But, you’re asking yourself, “Don’t we have blood sugar strips and tests?” Why yes, we do, but those methods require you to manually test yourself on a schedule, which may miss sudden spikes or drops in blood glucose, either of which may be life-threatening. And most of our current tests are invasive, many requiring a small blood sample. A diabetes service dog isn’t a replacement for checking blood sugar levels. However, it is a safeguard for those who experience episodes of low or high blood sugar, especially if they do not have warning symptoms.
Furthermore, the Diabetic Assistance Dog can provide emotional security and a sense of balance for individuals and for those who have loved ones with diabetes. He can help you lead a more confident, active, and independent lifestyle.And as with all service dogs, a diabetic service dog can be taught a variety of tasks to assist with the needs his handler. These tasks can include alerting other family members if an owner needs assistance, bringing needed objects, such as medications, retrieving a cell phone for assistance, and even in some instances, dial 911 using a special device, if assistance is needed.
So, what breeds are we turning to? While this is certainly not an all-inclusive list, here are the top 5 candidates for Diabetic Service Dogs.
Have you ever wondered why the Labrador Retriever is always used as a Service Dog? A Labrador Retriever is a highly versatile breed which is considered one of the best canine breeds for training. He is hard-working with an extraordinary intelligence that makes him a good candidate for training to become a proficient service dog. A Lab is also known for his friendliness and sociability. His sunny disposition makes him an excellent family dog as well as a service dog.
This furry companion is not only good-natured but, he works so hard for his owner that you can’t help but love him for the loyalty that he will shows. The Lab is extremely obedient. He listens and he does his best to do a good job at any task that he is given.
With all his special talents and loving nature, it is no wonder why the Labrador Retriever has been considered the number one dog in America and abroad. A Lab’s desirable traits enable him to shower affection and comfort to the people that need him most.
Like the Labrador, the Golden Retriever is a highly intelligent, devoted, obedient, eager-to-please dog; in fact, the first three dogs to win the American Kennel Club’s Obedience Championship Title after it was introduced in 1977 were all golden retrievers.
He is physically active and enthusiastic but not hyper. Affection and friendliness are given freely and appreciated in return, and the golden retriever is tolerant of and even warm toward kids and pets, often bonding strongly with the entire household.
Much like the Labrador, he has become synonymous with service dog work for his strong work ethic and friendly nature. Because of each breeds’ traits that make them both great service dogs, a mix, called a Goldador has also become quite standard in service dog work,
The Poodle may have the physique of a fashion model, but this breed was born to hunt. He’s the brightest of the brightest. He is among the most intelligent and most obedient dogs to be found. This, combined with his curiosity and eagerness to please, makes him easy to train and dependable.
The Poodle appreciates mental challenges and lots of physical activity, both of which often come with assistance work. He’s also adaptable to different environments, allowing him to stay focused and alert at home and in all sorts of public situations. The Poodle is friendly but not overly enthusiastic or stimulated around unknown people or animals, remaining well-behaved and attentive to his responsibilities outside the home.
Take the qualities of the Lab that make him a great service dog, combine that with the intelligence and low-shedding coat of the Poodle and you get a Labradoodle a great service dog that can be allergy & asthma friendly. He’s an intelligent and friendly hybrid breed that was originally bred in Australia as a Guide Dog for the blind. Since he has moved on to be a big player in the service dog world as well as a popular family pet.
Intelligent, hardworking, and versatile, the Aussie is a no-nonsense dog who thrives in a home where his brains and energy are put to good use. As a herding dog, he has an intelligence to not just obey a command but to figure out problems on his own, but he also needs constant mental and physical exercise. While, he might not be the best breed for everyone, for the more active diabetic, he certainly has the energy to help maintain an active lifestyle, which can offset more advanced cases of diabetes.
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