Dogs could help protect type 1 diabetes patients against dangerous drops in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), according to researchers.
They believe dogs can detect higher levels of a chemical called isoprene in the breath of diabetes patients when they develop hypoglycemia, which can lead to shakiness, disorientation, fatigue, and seizures or unconsciousness if the condition lasts too long, United Press International reported.
The researchers at the University of Cambridge in England slowly lowered blood sugar levels in eight women with type 1 diabetes and tested the chemicals in their breath as their blood sugar levels fell. Isoprene levels rose significantly during hypoglycemia.
People cannot detect this chemical, but it's likely dogs can, according to the authors of the study in the journal Diabetes Care. They said it may be possible to train dogs to detect the chemical in the breath of their owners and give them an early warning about falling blood sugar levels.
The researchers also said it may be possible to develop a breath test for blood sugar levels that is easier and cheaper than finger-prick tests, UPI reported.