Last Updated on March 30, 2017 by Matt Schmidt
I’m sure you’ve all read or seen a story about a dog that saved someone’s life. Maybe they woke them up when there was a fire, or maybe they detected a hypoglycemic episode. Sure, these stories are adorable, and we all love to hear them, but how reliable our furry friends versus a continue glucose meter at warning against low glucose levels?
A recent study by Dr. Los a pediatric endocrinology fellow at the Oregon health & Science University wanted to see just how well man’s best friend did when pitted against technology. To see which one was better, Dr. Los asked eight type 1 diabetics that had alert dogs to use three different methods the dogs, self-diagnosis, and CGMS. Each participant was asked to write down which method was able to detect the low first.
At the end of the study, the results were that the CGM detected the low first around 70% of the time, while dogs got it first less than 20% of the time. For all you dog lovers out there, don’t be discouraged yet. This study doesn’t mean that everyone should get rid of his or her service dogs for a fancy piece of technology. There are several different things that we can take away from the study.
The first thing that should be noted is just how small the study was. There were only eight different diabetics in the study, which is an small sample size to draw many conclusions out of. Hopefully, this study will be done on a larger scale to see an exact correlation between the effectiveness of dogs vs. CGMS.
But service dogs provide more than alarm systems, which is something that Dr. Los from the study admits. Aside from detecting lows, they give a companionship that is difficult to find anywhere else. There have been numerous studies that show the benefit of having alert dogs.
Advantages To Alert Dogs
There are several benefits to owning a diabetes alert dog even if the CGM beat it out in the study. If you don’t own an alert dog, there are still benefits to owning a dog in general, especially for diabetics.
One of the best things that dogs do is provide an exercise partner. If your dog wants to go for a walk or play outside, how can you turn down those puppy dog eyes? Dogs are a great excuse to get outside and go for a walk through the part or to throw the ball in the yard.
Having a bad day or feel like you can’t get your glucose numbers where you want them? Your furry companion is always ready to boost your mood. Having a pet has been shown to improve moods and help owners deal with stress. So, not only do you improve your dog’s mood by petting them, but it also improves your mood.
Dogs And Diabetes
While the study is interesting to see the comparison from the two, this isn’t going to be any groundbreaking information. Just about every diabetic is going to assume that a CGM is better at detecting lows than a canine, but that doesn’t mean that our four-legged friends don’t have their own advantages. A dog’s bark tends to gain much more attention that a CGM alert, plus I think we can all admit that dogs are much cuter than their technology counterparts.