Diabetic 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 fully formed partnership permits people who have a disability 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. The Americans with Disabilities Act affirms that individuals with disabilities have the benefit of having their service dogs with them in public spaces, buildings, and facilities.

Why Do Diabetics Need Alert Dogs?

Approximately 1.25 million Americans are living with Diabetes Type 1. This includes about 200,000 individuals less than 20 years old and more than 1 million adults over the age of 20.  Each year in the United States there are 40,000 new diagnoses of Diabetes Type 1.  It is common for the disease to impair individuals from living their lives due to the numerous symptoms such as extreme weakness, dehydration, nausea, irritability, and mood changes.

CPL 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 Diabetic Alert Dogs Help Their Partner?

  • Alert Individual if Blood Sugar is Dropping
  • Preventing injury from falls


How Are CPL Diabetes Alert Dogs Trained?

CPL diabetes alert dogs are trained to detect low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) in their early stages, before the blood sugar levels become too dangerous. The dogs are able to do this through smell. There are various distinct odors that accompany different blood sugar levels. In order to train our dogs to help those with diabetes, the future partner will take a sample of their saliva when their blood sugar is at 70. This sample is used in training. During the last 3–4 month training period, the diabetic alert dog is trained to detect their person’s saliva sample scent. After the dog is 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 and How will a CPL Diabetes Alert Dog Alert Their Partner?

CPL alert dogs for diabetes 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 diabetic time to test and use necessary medication before the blood sugar levels drop further. The dogs will alert their person by paw tap or nose tap. Another alert may include laying the head on the knee.

Alert Dog’s Alerting Behaviors Include:

  • Paw Tap
  • Nose Tap
  • Licking
  • Laying Their Head on Partner’s Knee

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

CPL provides the applicant with sample kits. The diabetic partner 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, and is usable for up to one year. More than one sample is needed over the duration of the 3–4 months of CPL training. 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 are the Criteria For Individuals Interested in Getting a Diabetic Alert Dog?

  • Must have a diagnosis of Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes
  • Are compliant with prescribed medication and testing protocols.
  • Must be over the age of 16.
  • Must live within 100 miles of Cochranville, PA.
  • Must have at least 2–4 episodes a month of daytime low blood sugar without warning.
  • Are willing and able to participate in the CPL Team Training held in Cochranville, PA.
  • 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 Full-Service Alert Dog for Diabetes please review our service dog eligibility policy, & fill out our Service Dog Application.

Eligibility Policy

Alert Dog Application


Diabetic Alert Dog FAQ

Can I take my alert dog into public places?

All of CPL’s alert dog’s 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.

Does CPL have Alert Dogs for Diabetic Children?

As of now, the requirement for a Diabetic alert dog is the age of 16 or older. This is because we believe that a service dog is not a pet, they’re a working companion. At too young of an age, a child could accidentally hurt the dog; and although our dogs have an even temperament, we want to make sure that the dog and their partner have a mutually beneficial relationship. An alert dog needs to be well-cared for in order to best perform their duties.

What Dog Breed is used for Alert Dogs for Diabetes?

At CPL, we primarily train Labrador retrievers as alert assistance dogs. Other breeds that we train at CPL include: golden retrievers, poodles, & labradoodles.

Where does CPL get their Alert Dogs?

CPL Diabetic alert dogs come from one of three places:

  • Our own small breeding program
  • Donated puppies from responsible breeders
  • Occasionally from Shelters or Rescue Centers

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

CPL Service dogs spend 2 years preparing for their working life. In these two years, our alert dogs are house-trained by volunteers, further trained to their matched partners scent and undergo training directly with their human. During the first year, the service dog is evaluated to ensure the dog is physically sound, and emotionally & temperamentally stable. These are important traits for working service dogs who are needed at this level of work.