Medical Alert Assistance Dogs
Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are trained to help people with life-threatening health conditions, giving them greater independence and above all saving their lives on a daily basis.
Our dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex health conditions. They are taught to identify the odour changes that are associated with life-threatening medical events. Currently the majority of our Medical Alert Assistance Dogs work with people with diabetes. However, we also provide alert dogs for those with other very dangerous health conditions including Addisonian crisis, which causes severe pain, convulsions and unconsciousness which lead to collapse and hospitalisation; and severe allergic responses. We continue to investigate other debilitating and potentially fatal conditions which our dogs may have the ability to help.
The endocrine system is a network of glands that produce and release hormones that help control many important body functions. The endocrine system influences how your heart beats, how your bones and tissues grow. It plays a vital role in whether or not you develop diabetes, thyroid disease, growth disorders and a host of other hormone-related disorders.
With their amazing sense of smell our dogs are trained to detect minute changes in blood sugar levels and other hormone-related odour changes. When these levels fall or rise outside the normal range the dogs will warn their owner, get help and fetch any vital medical supplies.
We have trained dogs to work with people with Type 1 diabetes with hypo unawareness and Addison’s, a disease of the adrenal gland.
For those with diabetes, the avoidance of dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) is an acute daily problem. Low blood sugar levels are very dangerous if left untreated. Symptoms vary from confusion to seizures to comas, and can become life-threatening. An inability to detect a hypo is common in young children and adolescents as a result of their stage of growth and development. Recurring hypos can contribute to memory and concentration problems. For some people with diabetes, deliberately raising their blood sugar levels was the only way to prevent severe hypos. We know that high blood sugars over a period of time are likely to cause disastrous consequences including amputations, sight loss, heart disease, strokes and renal failure. For those with Addison’s Disease the onset of an Addisonian Crisis, where the adrenal gland has failed to create adequate levels of cortisol, can mean severe pain, convulsions and unconsciousness which lead to collapse and hospitalisation. Our dogs are able to detect minute changes that indicate a potential crisis and alert the client to the need for medication. Client stories
There are many different cardiac conditions, all of which can affect the body in different ways. At Medical Detection Dogs we have been working with a number of different conditions and are training one of our dogs to work with a client with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTS).
Postural Tachycardia Syndrome As with all our work, our dogs detect minute changes in the odour, related to factors governed by the particular condition, and when they sense the change they alert the client to the impending, medical event. People living with PoTS often suffer severe and dangerous blackouts and our dogs can give them time to get to safety before they fall unconscious.
PoTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) is an abnormal response by the autonomic nervous system to becoming upright. There is an abnormally high increase in heart rate and altered blood supply to the brain on standing. It results in a large number of symptoms, the commonest of which are dizziness, fainting, tiredness and palpitations.
There are many causes and, in some cases, no cause can be found. Although patients can be very disabled by their symptoms, many get better without treatment. However, some patients will have problems over many years.
We are working with a number of different conditions including a severe nut allergy.
Nut allergy For many people just breathing in air-borne nut allergens, such as might be found in a kitchen after someone has opened a packet of peanuts, is enough to trigger a life-threatening anaphylaxic episode. Medical Detection Dogs is training dogs to detect the air-borne allergens in an environment and then alert the client to the presence before they come into contact with the allergic trigger. Unlike all our other alert dogs, these detection dogs are sensing the minute odours in the air, rather than the odours coming off the client. We currently have two nut-allergy dogs working for clients. Client stories