It is not a novelty for scientists that dogs can sniff low sugar levels. However, the way they can do that remained a mystery until recently. For years, dogs have been trained to help diabetes patients keep their sugar levels under control. Apart from having a useful detection mechanism, dogs are also great companions that can help patients with diabetes.
The secret lies in the fact that dogs don`t use their eyes as much as they use their nose to discover the world around them. Unlike humans, dogs can detect tiny concentrations of odor and track them.
According to biologists, their nose can identify a single particle of scent in one trillion of other distinct particles. For humans, this would be like tracking a teaspoon of sugar in an area as large as two Olympic pools.
This enables dogs to be excellent hunting companions. Furthermore, if appropriately trained, dogs can detect different types of cancer or diabetes.
Diabetes patients can train their dogs to detect any possible sign of low sugar levels. In the case of sick person suffering from diabetes type one, hypoglycemia can cause fatigue, shakiness and disorientation. Without the necessary sugar boost, patients can faint and become unconscious. There are situations when such things happen out of the blue, without any notice that can let patients take the necessary counter-measures to combat a potential crisis.
Specially trained dogs are taught to perform certain actions whenever they detect low concentration levels of sugar in their owner`s breath. This signals the patient to verify their blood glucose level to prevent a seizure.
However, the fact that dogs can sniff low sugar levels was not a mystery for the medical world. Nonetheless, the mechanism behind this ability is the one that remained unknown until now.
To solve the mystery, scientists from Cambridge University ran several tests with the help of eight women suffering from diabetes type one for more than 15 years. They noticed that whenever sugar levels dropped, the concentration of an organic compound called isoprene raised.
According to the study published recently in the medical journal “Diabetes Care”, dogs can sniff low sugar levels by sensing an increased concentration of isoprene in the exhaled air. The greatest part about this is related to the fact that canine companions can notify the owner in regards to any issue even when the owner is asleep.
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