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Man's best friend to warn diabetics

CANINES are being trained in Britain as potential lifesavers to warn diabetic owners when their blood sugar levels fall to dangerously low levels.

Man's best friend has already been shown capable of sniffing out certain cancer cells, and dogs have long been put to work in the hunt for illegal drugs and explosives.

Their new front-line role in diabetes care follows recent evidence suggesting a dog's hyper-sensitive nose can detect tiny changes that occur when a person is about to have a hypoglycemic attack.

A survey last December by researchers at Queen's University Belfast found 65 percent of 212 people with insulin-dependent diabetes reported that when they had a hypoglycemic episode their pets had reacted by whining or barking.

At the Cancer and Bio-Detection Dogs research center in Aylesbury, southern England, animal trainers are putting that finding into practice and honing dogs' innate skills. The charity has 17 dogs in training.

"Dogs have been trained to detect certain odors down to parts per trillion, so we are talking tiny, tiny amounts. Their world is really very different to ours," Chief Executive Claire Guest said.

Guest says having a dog in every doctor's office to screen for the disease is not practical but she hopes the research will lead to the invention of an electronic nose to mimic a dog's.


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