Diabetic Alert Dog

My husband and I are currently researching options for a diabetic alert dog for our 4yo son, diagnosed type 1 just before his third birthday. Wondering if anyone has any experience or advice. We are also unable to pay the $20-30k price tag – anyone know of any foundations or financial assistance options? We’re in Montana, so there are no local trainers or major organizations directly servicing this area that we know of. TIA

If you google “diabetes alert dogs”, you will find a few resource links to review. If you are looking for a legitimate service dog that will be specifically trained and licensed as such, that will cost some money. However, if you just need a dog as a pet that can help your son in the home setting, some dog breeds have a natural skill for this and can be trained at home. I had a miniature dachshund that naturally sensed when I went low. He slept on the bed and would start jumping around when he could detect me sweating or twitching, and I woke right up. If I’d worked with him more, he probably could have alerted me even earlier. Hounds like dachshunds, beagles, and bassets tend to be a good choice because they are specifically bred for their great sniffers.

hi @jbyerly, I am very sorry that I can’t add anything to the alert dog discussion, but I did hear that the dogs can be very helpful and (surprising to me) they can help detect low blood sugar.

What I can tell you is that even thought a recent diagnosis of diabetes can be terrifying and overwhelming, that you can and will be able to get much better at managing blood sugar, and you can and will develop your own “instincts” around how your son is doing.

When i was diagnosed, we didnt even have home blood sugar meters, and despite the awful monitoring and old insulin formulations (NPH from beef and pork pancreases), we survived. I am not suggesting you don’t need a service dog, but there is not doubt in my mind that if you had no other choice, that you would be able to figure this out and be very successful. good luck to you.

My thoughts closely mirror what @Joe wrote.

A service dog [and there are other animals also trained for Service] could or would be of use to you if you are leaving your son unattended for extended periods. I would only suggest that a Service Dog be employed if you, your family and other caregivers can not be cognizant of your son’s changes in situation.

A dog’s service only goes so far, another human would be needed to provide assistance. Also, any dog requires care beyond what a 4 y/o might be able to provide - another Burdon for you.

HI my nAmerica is Kathy and my daughter has a wonderful service dog named Anders who tells her not only when she is low but when she is rapidly dropping! She got him when she was 13 and now she is 17. He is a god send. In the beginning when she was having trouble and she would not pay attention to what he was trying to tell her he would come get me or my husband. We live in California and worked through a group called Dogs4Diabetics. They are a wonderful group who does not charge for the dogs. They have some great contacts and might be able to help you find someone in your area. Good luck with your search! Like I said Anders has saved my daughter more than once!! Good luck

Here is a link to a program that will help you train your own diabetic alert dog. They also have suggestions on what to look for if you want to get a dog that is already trained. Obviously, having a dog is a commitment in itself in terms of cost and time. My teenage son would like to get an alert dog. Since he will be moving out in a few years we want to make sure he is ready for the responsibility of dog ownership, and he has been raised with dogs his whole life. Dogs are expensive to own even if you can get one free of charge. However, with that said, I think an alert dog would be wonderful, especially for a young child.