How Service Dogs are Helping Diabetics

Charmaine Griffin
November 14, 2020

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Did you know there are service dogs for people with diabetes? These lovely pups are trained to alert diabetics when their blood sugar levels are low. With over 415 million people worldwide living with diabetes, service dogs offer lifesaving help and love.  

But first, let’s look at some facts about diabetes. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s possible that by 2040 over half a billion people worldwide will have diabetes. But what exactly is diabetes, and how does it impact your health?  

Diabetes is a disease where blood glucose, or blood sugar levels, are negatively impacted. When we eat, most of the food is broken down into glucose, and a hormone called insulin is released from our pancreas to use this sugar in our body’s cells for energy.  

However, someone with diabetes might not have enough insulin (type 1 diabetes), or the body isn’t using insulin well (type 2 diabetes).  

Types of Diabetes 

Type 1 diabetes occurs when blood sugar levels are too high, and the pancreas cannot produce insulin to lower these levels. Type 1 diabetes can affect children and young adults but can also appear at any age; this type is also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile-diabetes and requires lifelong treatment. 

With type 2 diabetes, the body doesn’t respond well to insulin, and it doesn’t make enough to reduce blood sugar levels. This causes too much glucose to stay in the blood and typically impacts older adults, those with a history of diabetes and obesity. It’s also known as adult-onset or non-insulin-dependent diabetes and can be regulated with a proper diet and exercise. 

Another classification of diabetes, known as prediabetes, occurs when blood sugar levels are high enough to put you at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. 

Symptoms to look out for: 

  • Urge to urinate 
  • Severely dry skin
  • Sores that are slow to heal
  • More infections than usual
  • Blurred vision
  • Sudden weight loss 
  • Very thirsty or hungry
  • Numb or tingling feet/hands

It’s important to get your blood sugar levels tested if you develop any of the listed systems. Women who are pregnant are also at risk for what’s known as gestational diabetes, with symptoms developing between 24-48 weeks of pregnancy. 

Dogs4Diabetics 

Redbarn encourages pet parents living with diabetes or who have children living with the disease to consider Medical-Alert Service Dogs to support them throughout their journey.

Organizations like Dogs4Diabetics (D4D) lead the charge in pairing trained dogs to support diabetics and their families. They are a leader in developing Medical-Alert Service Dogs who are scent-trained and able to detect fluctuations in blood sugar levels 20-30 minutes before the latest technology. 

Founded in 2004, D4D trains and pairs dogs to clients, offering them lifelong support at no cost for insulin-dependent diabetics. Their innovative training program exceeds industry standards, as many Medical-Alert Service Dogs perform at a 50% detection rate. D4D dogs have a detection rate that performs as high as 99.73%.

If you or someone you know with diabetes is considering a new fur friend, the D4D application process is simple and informative. 

Redbarn is an official treat sponsor of the California-based non-profit, and our delicious Protein Puffs are the official treat of D4D! Protein Puffs are a high-protein, low-fat treat with less than 1 calorie in each puff. Our protein is sourced from human-grade caseinate, which is commonly used in health supplements, snacks, and protein bars. 

They are a great source of protein and amino acids that help maintain muscle development. Even better? Protein Puffs are free from artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, wheat, corn, soy, grains, or gluten. 

Pet Diabetes 

Pets are also at risk for diabetes. Unfortunately, diabetes can occur for dogs and cats at any age, but older pets are more at-risk. Dogs are often diagnosed around 7-10 years old and cats who are older than 6 years old. 

Signs of diabetes in pets: 

  • Decreased appetite 
  • Recurring infections (skin and urinary)
  • Weight loss despite increase appetite 
  • Drinking water excessively (with frequent urination) 

Similar to humans, obesity is another significant risk factor. One of the primary recommendations for caring for pets with diabetes is to incorporate exercise into their routine. So if you aren’t already playing with your pup or cat for at least 15-20 minutes a day, consider extended walks, designated playtime, or even a daily fitness regimen to help maintain their weight and overall health. 

Treatment for dogs and cats varies but diabetes in pets requires lifelong treatment, including insulin injections and monitoring your pet’s blood sugar levels. Cats are encouraged to eat a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet, and dogs should eat a high-fiber diet. 

Redbarn’s line of Whole Grain and Grain-Free kibble recipes feature miscanthus grass, a natural source of fiber and pumpkin, for supporting digestive health. 

Always check with your veterinarian for best practices before transitioning your pet’s diet if they have an underlying illness like diabetes. 

Diabetes is a worldwide disease affecting pets and pet parents alike. Redbarn is proud to support organizations like D4D as we stand together in the battle against this chronic disease.

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