The answer is a resounding YES! With their high level of intelligence, ability to tune in to their surroundings, and excellent scent skills, the Poodle is definitely a prime candidate for a diabetic service dog. Through a combination of natural ability and highly skilled training, Poodles can become a lifesaving companion for someone living with diabetes. Thanks to their keen sense of smell, these dogs can be trained to detect changes in a person’s blood sugar levels—whether it’s high or low. Due to the human body dispersing different odors associated with changing blood sugar levels, this makes it much easier for dogs to detect these changes.
A Natural Alert
Some Poodles, and especially the Standard Poodle, have been known alert naturally for their owners, and this makes training so much easier. The pre-existing bond between a person and their pet is strong.If the dog’s natural instinct tells them something is different, they are likely to try to get their human companion’s attention. Whether the person is aware of the reason is a different question entirely. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to seek training for both the diabetic patient and their dog. If you’ve already got a Poodle in your life that is making the distinction between the healthy you and the diabetic struggles you are going through, there are places you can get help with training. Some are at a facility you’ll need to travel to while others teach you how to train your dog in your own environment. If you don’t currently have a diabetic alert Poodle and wish to get one, there are places available that will help you locate and qualify for a certified diabetic alert companion. These dogs must show some natural affinity for scent, and Poodles have a high level of intelligence and are easily trained, which makes them perfect contenders for this position.
Through a training period lasting three to six months, a diabetic alert dog is trained with samples of a person’s saliva when their blood sugar is at a certain level. When the dog senses a difference in the way the person smells, they are trained to alert the person by various actions such as:
- Licking the person
- Tapping the person with a paw or their nose
- Laying their head on the person’s knee
- Placing both paws on the person’s shoulders
Diabetic service dogs, also known as the diabetes service dog or simply an alert dog, are able to help by alerting their diabetic partner to changes in their sugar level (blood glucose) as well as preventing injury during a fall. They can seek help or alert others to their companion’s distress by ringing a bell, tapping a device that activates an emergency response system, or getting the attention of someone nearby. For someone who lives with diabetes mellitus (diabetes), and the results of the dangerous highs and lows of this disease, knowing they have a trained service dog can offer immeasurable relief. It can also give them the opportunity to lead a more independent life than they previously did. For the loved ones of a diabetic, having the peace of mind that you can step away to the store, go hang out the laundry, or even sleep through the night can be a huge relief. Caretakers for more severe diabetic patients can become a little run down with all the responsibilities of caring for their loved ones. Having a second set of eye sand a nose to offer assistance can provide much-needed breaks. The stress of the 24/7 lifestyle of a caretaker can become a bit overwhelming over time. When you have the opportunity to bring someone into the daily life of a diabetic who can help maintain the vigilance needed, offer an early response alert to any chemical changes in time to get them help, and call for assistance in an emergency situation, can both save the life of the diabetic and the long-term health of the caretaker.
While Poodles of all sizes can be depended upon for this task, some consideration should be made for a particular situation. Is the diabetic an adult or a child? Do they live in a house or an apartment? In town or in the country? What kind of exercise area is available for the dog? Taking these questions into consideration can help out the situation immensely. Just because the dog is intended to be a working dog—like people—they cannot work 24/7 without breaks. Even a trained alert dog needs some downtime for play, exercise, and rest. It would be much less effort to own a dog if you lived in a single-story house with a fence in the back yard out in the country where you could just let it out to run and play. You’d have to exert more effort or enlist the help of a friend or family member if you live in a small apartment on the tenth floor in the middle of the city. Depending on the severity of diabetes, can the person in question do the daily care needed for their dog? Poodles have higher grooming needs than other breeds and must be brushed at least weekly and trimmed every four to six weeks to prevent matting of their coat. Will they be able to feed, walk, and attend to the other needs of their companion, or will alternative measures need to be taken by others to assist? Is the diabetic a young child who has little to no understanding of the dog’s needs or purpose, other than to play and snuggle? In this case, parental intervention is crucial to help the child to understand the dog’s purpose, how it reacts on diabetes alert, and how to react to them, in addition to the daily care it needs.
Bringing diabetic alert service dog and a service animal into the life of someone in need can offer up a lot of positives for them as well as their loved ones. Preparation is important as is the care and training;however, with a bit of investment, you’ll have a valuable and wonderful companion to help you through the coming years.