Dogs- A Medic Alert System

Writer: Teresa Madaleno


Teresa's Daughter - Kirsten with their Dog, Sprite

Teresa’s Daughter – Kirsten with their Dog, Sprite

The Madaleno’s who are long standing canine lovers, have always joked that dogs should have jobs. After all, they spend so much time lying around, yet are full of energy and often amaze us with their level of intelligence. Turns out some dogs do have jobs and they can be vital or should I say, life-saving.

Did you know that dogs with their cold, wet noses can be trained to sniff out the presence of the C. difficile superbug among patients? This could give healthcare professionals much needed help in fighting outbreaks of the bacterial infection that are a problem for hospitals around the world.

Clostridium difficile or C. diff as some people call it, is resistant to antibiotics. It can spread easily, quickly and has the potential to be fatal. It is often transmitted from one person to the next in hospital settings.

It turns out that dogs can also smell abnormal drops in blood sugar levels occurring in people with type I diabetes.

Yes – this is for real.

Just a few years ago, one study involving a dog in Amsterdam showed that Cliff (the dog) was able to correctly identify 50 out of 50 positive stool samples of people with C. difficile and 47 out of 50 who were negative. Remarkable considering that Cliff had no previous smell-detection training.

Angus, a springer spaniel is now going to work at Vancouver General Hospital sniffing out C. diff. Hospitals across the globe will be keeping close tabs on the health facility to see if their number of C. difficile cases go down as a result of Angus’s work.

When it comes to diabetes, here is why dogs are able to help. New research out of Cambridge University has found that a fall in blood glucose also leads to a rise in isoprene, which is a natural chemical that we release while breathing. Dogs can smell this chemical on a person’s breath and be trained to alert them. The YouTube video below demonstrates.

Lets face it, we love our pets. No relationship that humans have is really like the attachment we develop for them. These medical discoveries give us yet another reason to, not only adore them, but to treat them with the respect they so obviously deserve!