New Research: Can Dogs Sniff Out Hypoglycemia?

Article Date: 23 Nov 2007 - 0:00 PST

Queen’s University researchers are appealing for volunteers to help investigate whether dogs can reliably detect changes in their owner’s diabetic state.

Dr Deborah Wells from the School of Psychology at Queen’s and Dr Shaun Lawson from the University of Lincoln are appealing for 100 Type One diabetics to complete an online survey. The researchers are also seeking video footage of dogs reacting to their owner’s ‘hypos’ or low blood sugar levels.

Dr Wells said: "Anecdotal reports suggest that some dogs can perform early warning of hypoglycaemia by using their sense of smell to ‘sniff out’ if their owner’s blood sugar levels are dropping.

"At present there are a couple of people in the UK trying to train dogs for hypoglycaemia detection, but scientific study of this phenomenon is sorely lacking and in much need of investigation.

“This study has the potential to be of enormous benefit to the medical profession. Knowledge amassed from the study will be used to inform the development of electronic non-invasive alert systems for this disorder. These are systems that are able to detect either decreases or increases in blood sugar levels similar to an electronic nose.”

Dr Wells added: “The video footage will be analysed to see if dogs exhibit any changes in behaviour or show alertness. We will also examine how similar these experiences are between dogs, how reliable they are and whether or not the dogs react in the same way every time their owner experiences low blood sugar levels.”

Communications Office, Lanyon North
Queen’s University
Northern Ireland

The survey for those with both diabetes and dog(s):


I am type 2 diabetic but insulin dependent and my dog has woken me up more than once when I have been dangerously low.

I too am a type 2.

Steve, do take a look at this blog. Molly blogs about her professionally trained service dog, Dixie, who alerts her to hypos. Dixie is extremely smart and perceptive - the blog is really interesting.

BTW - Hapy Holidays!

It works! I have a service dog from Dogs 4 Diabetics in California. It is awesome! She tells me when I’m going low WAY before the CGM’s did. I rarely get below 70 now.

Now that we’ve been together for a few months, she has trained herself to alert me on highs. Anything above 250 gets her attention. She has saved me several times when my pump sets were bad.

Their program is small and only in the Bay area right now. I hope more is done with this idea because not only can a dog tell you when your low, but put its head on your knee while your drinking juice…

Steve. There is a company called Heaven Scent Paws that trains and sells dogs. They are trained to lick you when you’re low. I’ve heard the dogs are expensive and there is a wait list of several hundred diabetics per trained dog.

What breed of dog is she?

My dog is a dauschand and she isn’t even trained to alert me, she just does.


She just loves her owner.

The idea of working with dogs like this is just fascinating. Thanks for so many replies about this.

I have a beagle, a cat,2 birds,3 rats,1 guinea pig,and 1 hamster:) My cat is the one that wakes me in the middle of the night and gets me moving:)

Thanks Kathy, same to you!

HSP is fraud. They have been sued by the Attorney General in Missouri, for providing dogs that are partially trained or not trained, have supplied dogs that are 100% unsuitable to be service dogs, 18 times in June. Stay away from HSP

I have two dogs. One is a Jack Russell, and she doesn’t really notice. The other is a miniature Border Colly crossed with a Jack Russell, and she is VERY sensitive to how I feel. She knows if I’m sick or tired, and is very gentle around me when I am. She sits next to me quietly and gently licks me to reassure me.

I am getting a border collie that is trained to detect high and low blood sugars. From the articles i have read the dogs are able tot detect.

I have a friend who volunteers for Dogs for Diabetics, and has a service dog. Her dog alerts her to both lows and highs. The dog is only trained to alert to lows though. The D4D service dogs are ones who’ve “failed” the course to be seeing-eye dogs - that’s my understanding anyway.

I have a Dogs 4 Diabetics dog. They can definitely detect low blood sugar. D4D trains them to give a specific signal so there’s no mistaking what they are telling you. Tahiti tells me when I’m around 140-150 that I will be low in about 20 minutes. Its wonderful! She will also continue to alert its not going up. After we had been together for a while, she trained herself to alert on highs as well.

my cat follows me around when i’m low and as soon as i feel better she does her own thing again.

this is different because my dog usually wakes me up when im high. he comes and licks me to death in the morning if my BG is too high.

I have a service dog for a hereditary connective tissue disease. He alerts to my lows. He did this from the first day I had him. His alerts were unreliable though at times until I worked with a search and resue trainer to train him in scent training. He is so reliable he alerts correctly 95% of time. He alerts when I am dropping rapidly and or go below 75-ish. I take a lot of meds for my other health issues that interferes with my diabetes, for sure if I did not have he I’d be dead. He alerted once and couldnt wake me, he started barking and my family called 911, my blood sugar was 18!