BOSTON (CBS) – Pete is a rambunctious two-year-old Labrador with a very sensitive nose. He can sense when a diabetic’s blood sugar is too low.
Dr. Dana Hardin is leading a study at Eli-Lilly, trying to figure out exactly how a dog can detect when someone with Type 1 diabetes is in trouble.
“A dog is 10,000 times more sensitive to smell then we are. They have an entire chamber of receptors in their nose just for smell,” explained Dr. Hardin.
Dr. Hardin hopes what she leans studying Pete’s behavior will help train other dogs for hypoglycemia alerts.
Low blood sugar can be very serious. It can cause a person to pass out, go to the emergency room, and even die.
Dogs like Pete are trained to detect changes in a person’s body chemistry, so they can avoid those big problems.
Dr. Hardin explained how Pete assesses a situation.
“He is going to start soft. If he doesn’t get my attention, he is going to start raising his head and start bumping into me, and if he doesn’t get my attention he is going to crawl up on my lap,” Dr. Hardin said. “If that doesn’t work, he is going to get someone else to help me out.”