A man with diabetes has revealed how he and his wife trained their pet dog to detect changes in his blood sugar levels to help prevent episodes of hypoglycemia.
Robert McVey from Iowa, USA, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2012. At the time, his doctor suggested using a specially trained medical assistance dog to help alert him to falling blood glucose levels, thereby reducing the risk of hypoglycemia and other hypo-related problems.
But after being told he would have to fork out between $9,000 to $25,000 for a diabetes alert dog, Robert and his wife Lesli decided to take another approach.
They bought a Labrador cross Weimaraner called Austin and began training him to spot drops in blood sugar levels. The couple started with basic commands most people teach their pets, before moving on to scent training. For this, Austin was taught to detect saliva samples taken from patients with low or
high blood sugars.
In January 2014, the couple’s work paid off. Mr McVey missed a meal, causing his glucose levels to drop. Fortunately, Austin was able to immediately detect the change in his owner’s blood glucose tapped him with his paw to warn him.
“This early alert to shifts in blood sugar is a huge relief to diabetics and parents of diabetics struggling to identify such changes before they result in uncomfortable symptoms,” the McVeys said.
The couple now want to use their training to help other people with diabetes who, like them, cannot afford the high cost of a diabetes alert dog. They are currently working on the newest addition to their family a puppy called Rouge, and are accepting applications for her new owner.

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