Dogs are man’s best friend, and alert dogs are the proof. These dogs can recognise the signs of diabetic crises – such as hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia – before they occur. This capability saves their diabetic owners’ lives. Let’s find out more about the role of these faithful four-legged friends, thanks to Serena Project Onlus based in Verona.
Alert dogs for diabetics
Dogs for diabetics are now an established reality thanks to their sense of smell, which is much more powerful than the humans’ one. Service dogs for diabetics are able to recognise changes in the patient’s blood sugar level. They are also able to alert family members or other relevant parties by means of signals. In this way they can even save the patient’s life.
The optimal performance of alert dogs depends not only on good training, but also on careful selection of the dog.
The best suited dogs for this task are those that enjoy human company and have a more balanced personality. In addition, medium-sized to large dogs that can perform certain tasks on their own are preferable. For example, they can turn on the light switch or click emergency buttons to call for help without difficulty.
Project Serena NPO in Verona and the “Diabetes Alert Dog Protocol”
Progetto Serena Non-profit organization trains alert dogs for chronic diabetics. By sniffing the patient’s sweat and saliva they can recognize blood sugar peaks and report the emergency. They can do this by waking up the owner and relatives, jumping on the bed, licking their hands or carrying the life-saving kit.
Thanks to the passion and commitment of dog trainer Roberto Zampieri, the ‘Diabetes Alert Dog Protocol’ was born. This method is based solely on collaboration, relationship and empathy between dog and diabetic. A protocol written from scratch and tested in the field, for the exclusive use of Progetto Serena Onlus.
What is Progetto Serena based on?
Guide dog education is based on the combination of play and work. Every time the dog carries out a command, the instructor rewards him with a prize so that the dog, associating the task with positive feelings, will be happy to assist his owner. According to Zampieri, it is important that the dog to be trained is the diabetic’s one, because a friendship and trust relationship has already been built.
The goal of Progetto Serena Onlus is to be able to give an alert dog to all those who live with this chronic disease, in order to respond to the growing demand from all regions of Italy and trying to keep costs low to meet the request of those who really need it. Nowadays, there are still few realities that deal with the training of dogs for diabetics.
Alert dog for diabetics helps the whole family
Our four-legged friends are a sweet and useful companion even for the youngest patients who are not autonomous. They must learn to manage this pathology, to recognize the signs of a hyper or hypoglycemic crisis and to warn their parents. In these cases, the dog becomes a very important support for the whole family. Parents can sleep more peacefully knowing that there is someone watching over their children.
The Serena NPO Project has led to such excellent results that the Diabetic Associations of Verona have enthusiastically supported the Project.
To find out more, we suggest you visit the Progetto Serena NPO website and follow the newly founded Diabete 1.0 Association. Diabete 1.0 promotes and supports creative and digital initiatives with medical support to improve the quality of life of diabetic children and their families.