London: Dogs can be life-savers by acting as an early-warning system for millions of patients with diabetes, a new study has found.
Experts have proved for the first time that dogs trained to respond to their owner`s low blood sugar levels can save them from a potentially fatal - hypoglycaemic attack.
The animals use their acute sense of smell to detect changes in the chemical comp-osition of their owner`s sweat or breath.
They can be taught to raise the alarm by barking, pawing or even fetching a blood testing kit.
All people with Type 1 diabetes and those with Type 2 diabetes who are on glucose lowering medication, including insulin, need to regularly check their blood glucose.
If they take too much insulin it can result in hypoglycaemia - or a hypo - caused by abnormally low levels of sugar in the blood.
Symptoms include hunger, trembling or shakiness, and sweating. In more serious cases it can affect concentration or cause slurred speech. Failure to correct the hypo through eating a sugary food can lead to coma and even death.
Now, the first academic study to assess whether dogs could be reliably used to -provide an early- warning system to monitor glycaemia control has been carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol.
The research is published in the journal PLOS ONE.