Dogs can be trained to sniff out health problems in the sweat of patients with type 1 diabetes, according to a new study.
And their noses are startlingly accurate. After training, animals were able to spot hypoglycemia episodes - or hypos - with an accuracy of nearly 90 per cent, according to new research published in the journal Diabetes Therapy.
Hypos, which occur when the level of glucose in the blood falls below a safe point, are the most common side effect of insulin therapy in people with type 1 diabetes. These events can range from mild to severe, and in rare cases can lead to coma and death. A mild case can be treated by eating or drinking a fast-acting carbohydrate such as glucose tablets.
One of the challenges is that over time, patients can become unaware of the signs and symptoms of hypos, which can lead to complications.
The researchers tested six dogs - two labradors, a retriever, a Siberian husky, a spaniel and an alsatian - all of which had been trained to spot the smell of hypos.
Perspiration samples were taken from patients during a hypo and when blood sugar levels were normal. Samples were placed in glass vials which were then placed into steel cans. The dogs raised the alarm by sitting in front of, or pushing, the can containing the hypo sample. Results show that the dogs were able to spot the hypo with an accuracy of up to 87.5 per cent.
"Our results suggest that properly trained dogs can successfully recognise and raise the alert about a hypo using smell alone," say the American researchers.
- Daily Mail