Diabetes Alert Dogs

Service Dogs for Those with Diabetes

Service dogs can be an extremely important part of someone’s life who is living with diabetes. A service dog partnership allows individuals to have a higher level of independence, as well as better socialization skills, more stability, and a friend constantly by their side to experience life’s amazing moments. 

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Why Do Diabetics Need Alert Dogs?

CPL diabetes alert dogs offer those with diabetes greater freedom to improve their quality of life by alerting ahead of time that a blood sugar decrease is impending. By giving their partners time to take precautions, this helps prevent serious injuries from falls and other related complications.

Infographic Diabetes Type 1

How Do Diabetes Alert Dogs Help Their Partner?

  • Alert individual if blood sugar is dropping
  • Retrieve diabetes test kit or medications
  • Provide support while walking and/or help their person stand after sitting or after a fall
  • Carry objects
  • Open/close doors, cabinets or drawers

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Download Service Dog Application

How Are CPL Diabetes Alert Dogs Trained?

CPL diabetes alert dogs are trained to detect low blood sugar levels in their early stages, before the blood sugar levels become too dangerous. The dogs are able to do this through smell. There are distinct odors that accompany different blood sugar levels. In order to train our dogs to help those with diabetes, the applicant will take a sample of their saliva on dental cotton when their blood sugar is at 70. This sample is used in training. During the final stages of training, the diabetes alert dog is trained to detect their person’s saliva sample scent. After the dog is fully trained to help their diabetic partner, the pair will attend team training on CPL’s campus in Cochranville, PA for 2 1/2 more weeks of personalized training.

When will a CPL Diabetes Alert Dog Alert Their Partner?

CPL diabetes alert dogs are trained specifically to their person’s scent. This helps them identify when their partner’s blood sugar level is approximately at 70. At 70, a person’s level is dropping, but they are not yet in an emergency situation. This gives the person time to test and use necessary medication before the blood sugar levels drop further.

How Does CPL Collect the Sample Scent from the Person with Diabetes?

CPL provides the applicant with sample kits. The applicant will collect a saliva sample on dental cotton when their blood sugar level is at 70. That blood sugar sample is then frozen and stored. On a regular basis, the applicant will need to bring a new sample to CPL in a cooler. If the applicant cannot make it to CPL, they have the option of shipping it overnight in ice at the applicant’s expense.

What is the Criteria for Individuals Interested in Getting a Diabetes Alert Dog?

  • Have a diagnosis of diabetes with episodes of low blood sugar.
  • Compliant to prescribed medications and testing protocols.
  • Must be 12 years or older.
  • Have at least 2–4 episodes of daytime low blood sugar monthly without warning or awareness.
  • Willing and able to commit to a full-time service dog partnership: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you would like to apply for a diabetes alert dog please review our service dog eligibility policy and fill out our service dog application.

Eligibility Policy

Alert Dog Application

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Diabetes Alert Dog FAQ

Can I take my diabetes alert dog into public places?

All of CPL’s alert dogs are certified service animals as outlined by the ADA’s requirements for service animals. Under this federal law, service dogs are permitted to accompany you in public, including places where dogs are not typically allowed.

What Dog Breed is used for Alert Dogs for Diabetes?

At CPL, we primarily train Labrador Retrievers. Other breeds that we train at CPL include: Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles and Labradoodles. The wait time for a non-shedding dog can be significantly longer than the wait for a Lab.

Where does CPL get their Alert Dogs?

CPL diabetes alert dogs come from our own small breeding program or from responsible breeders.

How long does the Training Process Take for A Diabetes Alert Dog?

CPL service dogs spend two years preparing for their working life. During the first year of training, the dogs live with volunteers to learn their basic obedience skills and to be socialized in a variety of public places. Once the dogs are about 14 months old, they move into the CPL kennel to begin their formal training with CPL’s professional trainers. During this time, the dogs learn more advanced service skills and are trained to alert to their partner’s scent.