As if we needed another reason to love dogs.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have started using canine’s powerful sense of smell for advancements in medicine.
In a study published in Diabetes Care, the scientists found when a person with Type 1 diabetes suffers a hypoglycemic attack, the amount of isoprene (a naturally occurring chemical) in a person’s breath escalates.
And dogs can sniff out this chemical’s presence.
The study took eight women with Type 1 diabetes, with the researchers gradually lowering their blood sugar levels. They analyzed the chemical makeup in their breaths, finding “exhaled breath isoprene rose significantly at hypoglycemia compared with non-hypoglycemia.” Blood sugar decreases to dangerous levels during a hypoglycemic attack.
The University of Cambridge also cites people with diabetes already employing the use of trained service dogs to warn them of low blood sugar levels. The dogs will jump and put their paws on the owner’s shoulders if they detect low blood sugar levels, which foreshadows a hypoglycemic attack.
Now that researchers understand why dogs can sense low blood sugar in humans, they can work towards new detection tools for diabetics.
Perhaps the development of a Breathalyzer that monitors isoprene levels that mimics a dog’s nose natural ability to detect the chemical could be a possibility. But it goes without saying it won’t be nearly as cute or fun to be around.