A diabetic alert dog is a type of medical service dog that has been trained to respond to scent samples that are then transferred to actually alert the recipients of low or high blood sugar levels.
At Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, we have a low number and a high number that we collect swabs from the recipient and train the dog to hit on.
Do Diabetic Alert Dogs Really Work?
Yes, their extensive training greatly helps a recipient because a lot of times, people can have a severe sugar dip in the middle of the night that can cause them to go into a coma. Everyone else in the household is asleep, and the recipient, of course, doesn’t realize they are going into it either, so the medical service dog can alert to it at critical times so the recipient can take their medication.
They work just as well as someone who has to wear a box or alarm that goes off when their blood sugar is low. Someone who is hard of hearing or asleep may not hear that alarm, but the dog will continue to persist. Not only does the dog hit on the number it is asked to, we usually expect them to hit 90% of the time, but we typically see them hit 100% of the time.
It’s really vital to the work that the dogs do. There are a lot of things that dogs can do that medical technology can not duplicate. They do, of course, have different tests to test your blood sugar, but the dogs will hit on it every time.
How Expensive is a Diabetic Alert Dog?
It depends on who you are going through to get a dog. It’s important to keep in mind that there is a big difference between just having an alert dog and having a service dog. An alert dog is a service dog, but there is more to it than just training them to hit on the scents. They also have to be trained for all the things that happen in public and all the required etiquette of a service dog in public.
These are dogs that not only work at home, but they also need to function in public and have all the manners that are required for the service dog in public. You can go to someone to get a dog. If you go to a trainer, they may be able to train scent skills, but you need to know whether they know the law and can train for the other elements of a service dog. It’s not just the task; it’s a whole entire lifestyle that the dogs learn.
You also have non-profit organizations like Guardian Angels that teach the dog scent skills as well as everything the recipients need to know about having a service dog, such as how to make sure it is properly responding, practicing regularly, and different things that we teach the recipients to keep that dog sharp.
As a non-profit, we donate our dogs. They cost us about $40,000 from start to finish, and we also do a lifetime of follow-ups to ensure the dog is working properly and intervene if there are any behavioral issues. In contrast, a trainer or another organization or individual may not offer the same services.
Can I Train My Dog to Be a Diabetic Alert Dog?
By federal law, individuals are allowed to train their own dog as a diabetic alert dog, but you have to consider the experience the trainer or individual has. We don’t recommend it because most people do not have the skill to be able to train dogs at a high level as we do. Even regular dog trainers do not do what our organization does. Even if they can train the dog to alert to the scent, you have to consider whether they know about the laws and their rights, merchant rights, and proper etiquette in public.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Diabetic Alert Dog?
It depends on the waiting list. There are about 61 million people in the U.S. who have disabilities, with a fairly high number of them having diabetes since it is a common disability. There are not many service dogs organizations or service dogs being trained. We’ve seen numbers of around 1500-2000 service dogs a year trained and out in the working system. When compared to 61 million people with disabilities, you’ll find that many organizations have waiting lists anywhere from 2-10 years long.
Want to Learn More About Medical Service Dogs? Contact us Today!
At Guardian Angels, we are happy to serve as a resource for information on different types of medical service dogs and medical conditions that qualify for a service dog. Please contact us with any questions you may have.
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