28 1

Can a dog really sense diabetes?

I realize it's a popular contention that some dogs are able to detect low blood sugar by smelling something about a person and signal when that person is about to have a diabetic episode of some sort. I'm well aware that dogs have very good senses of smell. Nevertheless, this strikes me as somewhere between "improbable" and "dubious," because the change in someone's breath or sweat caused by low blood sugar seems as though it would be similar to all sorts of other ordinary, non-diabetic bodily fluctuations that occur throughout the course of a day.

It also strikes me as improbable that someone's own pet who happens to be an adorable and lovable dog would just happen to possess this ability. And they way the animal is supposed to signal the onset of a diabetic attack is usually to lick and kiss the human, which is similar to how the animal would behave if it were requesting food or treats or attention the way an ordinary household pet would.

But if there's some actual evidence of this out there, my mind could be changed. Show me the evidence, change my mind!

By ErikGunderson6
Actions Follow Post Like

Enjoy being online again!

Welcome to the community of good people who base their values on evidence and appreciate civil discourse - the social network you will enjoy.

Create your free account

28 comments

Feel free to reply to any comment by clicking the "Reply" button.

14

Diabetic ketoacidosis gives a person's breath a fruity smell that even humans can detect. I haven't researched it, but given that information I wouldn't doubt for a second that a dog can detect more subtle swings.

Tucker79 Level 5 July 3, 2018
8

My dog's behavior would always change when my dad's blood sugar was out of whack. She was a really reliable indicator.

davyjones Level 6 July 3, 2018
8

One additional item that dog's sense is a dying person and a dead person. If it's at all possible the dog should be allowed to sniff their dead owner. Otherwise, the dog may not know his/her owner is dead.

Trained tracker/rescue dogs often get depressed if they find too many bodies in a short period. These dogs sometimes need to be removed from search and rescue operations to give them time to recollect themselves.

TheAstroChuck Level 8 July 3, 2018

Our dogs would glue themselves to my late dh after a chemo treatment. They KNEW he didn't smell the same & that something was going on. They also inexplicably quit rough housing with each other indoors after he was sick.

8

If dogs can smell bombs and drugs even when they are buried, I believe they can smell pretty much any medical issue (if they are trained).

Dogs have been known to sense cancer, diabetes, epileptic seizures, etc. Here is an article that may interest you: [mnn.com]

kiramea Level 7 July 3, 2018
7

I have a friend with a trained dog for just this purpose. He certainly trusts.

MrLizard Level 8 July 3, 2018
7

Also seizure, heart attacks, pregnancy, and other things. Service dogs can be trained to alert the owners and the owners trained to understand.
Fun fact doctors used to test for diabetes by tasting the urine for sweetness.

MsAl Level 7 July 3, 2018
6

I was a caregiver and I got a client who had diabetes. To my surprise she had a poodle, it was her personal dog that was by her side that could detect her drop in sugar level. This dog was specifically trained for this. I believe any dog can be trained to recognize and detect a certain disease or any inbalance in a persons body. I had a mixed dog 3 yrs ago he was nothing special never trained for anything except to do tricks for treats. He would lay on my lap and want me to pet him. For 6 months he constantly smelled my one breast. I ignored this thinking it was food he was smelling. It wasn't food, I finally got a mammogram and I had a large lump inside. He passed away after I got better, he too had cancer. So you see I do believe these dogs have way more to offer us than you can every imagine.

TweedleDee Level 6 July 3, 2018
6

Yep! Google it....

Anniemae Level 8 July 3, 2018

It baffles me how so many people on this website don't seem to know how do do a google search, LOL!

I did. I found lots of places offering to sell me dogs that could detect diabetes and cancer and all sorts of other things, but not a lot of science to tell me if what was on offers was genuine or not. Google is good for what's popular. If you Google "Is Barack Obama from Kenya" or "Will a cucumber juice enema make me healthier" you'll get a lot of things that to my eye looked similar to what I was seeing. A couple of people here have been nice enough to provide links to things that refer to actual scientific studies, which is what I was looking for, and I thank them for taking the time to do so, courteously.

@ErikGunderson Interesting considering I put "can animals smell disease" and came up with this: [google.com]

Edited

@ErikGunderson If you get a dog from a breeder known for dogs with "noses" , works their dogs in scent work. You can get a great dog that can be trained to alert for whatever.
You(global) want a doberman from a strong nose line? My boy's has it in spades. Long line of scent worked dogs. They learn the basics in one minute too.

6

I can tell when my blood sugar is too high because my lips taste like strawberries even if I haven't had any. I'm sure that dogs can sense blood sugar changes, they just need trained to know what it means

6

[google.com] my google fu says yes AND there's actual proof. Dogs super sensitive noses and the particular attention they give their owners combine to make them effective at this it seems.

5

If the ketosis is bad enough, humans can smell acetone in your breath

Buttercup Level 7 July 3, 2018
4

Low blood sugar has a very distinctive smell. Like fruity liquor.

ketones

4

There are people selling these dogs to kids with t1. Pretty sure they can be trained. Just not exactly sure how they train them to do it. They are also super expensive. It was 60 to 80 grand for a fully trained one. Way to pricey for my ability to pay. Considered trying to teach my dog at one point.

Deanervin Level 6 July 3, 2018
4

I'm a type 1 diabetic. When I was first diagnosed, more so first found out about a preexisting ailment, I had a lot of dizzy spells and I would pass out. My dog would always hover around around me and lick my face until I came to. I never understood the validity of his actions until I did some research. Turns out, I guess they do have a sense for that, at least to some extent.

Hollowbound Level 4 July 3, 2018
4

Yes they can. There is enough documented evidence now to make the medical profession believe it. There have been cases where doctors have used dogs to assist in diagnosing not just diabetes but other diseases including some cancers.

Marionville Level 9 July 3, 2018
4

I know dogs can smell cancer.. I've not heard of diabetes before.

Ellatynemouth Level 8 July 3, 2018
4

dogs have been known to detect cancer

magicwatch Level 7 July 3, 2018
3

YES. LOL
And yes, it is natural to some untrained dogs. You can tell when they leave your feet alone when your #s are good, vs when you're out of your Rx.

Qualia Level 8 July 3, 2018
2

Not just dogs: [healthline.com]

chilehead9 Level 7 July 4, 2018
2

Um..use google search and you'll find pages of documentation.

Not only dogs can detect physical problems and seizures, but many other pets as well, including parakeets, who fly into their owner's faces and try to get them to lie down, minutes before they have a seizure.

birdingnut Level 8 July 3, 2018
2

I saw a documentary once, where it was demonstrated that a dog could detect cancer. Diabetes, or rather a problem with their sugar levels, I could see a dog being able to detect that.

While low blood sugar is a problem, isn't sugar that is too high the bigger problem?

novoxguy Level 6 July 3, 2018

Low sugar can kill you. I’m a Type 1 diabetic and without a working pancreas the blood sugar levels are all over the place. Too high or too low can cause you to go into a coma and not wake up.

1

I am not going to look up the proofs for you but I do know that there are service dogs to detect many of these health issues for people

btroje Level 8 July 4, 2018
1

Dogs are far wiser than we think. I think that butt sniffing behavior is just a ruse because they really aren't inti deep conversation. I had a Weimeraner give me some really sound investment advice a few years back that allowed me to retire early. Dogs can do anything.

Lincoln55 Level 7 July 4, 2018
1

That is what studies seems to suggest and that is all I have to go by and studies suggest that dogs can sense a person about to have a seizer.. Take it for what it's worth.

jlynn37 Level 8 July 3, 2018
0

Yes

No_god_4_me Level 2 July 14, 2018
Write Comment
Humanist does not evaluate or guarantee the accuracy of any content read full disclaimer
  • Humanist.com is the largest non-profit community for humanists!