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Diabetes sniffing dogs sought


UNIVERSITY RESEARCHERS are searching for dog owners with Type 1 diabetes to take part in a study investigating if dogs can detect diabetes in their owners.

The study is funded by Diabetes UK, and researchers from Queen's University Belfast and University of London are looking for 100 people to take part in the project.

Dr Deborah Wells, from the School of Psychology at Queen's, says there are anecdotal stories of dogs detecting a drop in blood glucose in their owners, in the same way that some dogs have been trained to sniff out cancers on humans.

She and Dr Shaun Lawson, from the University of Lincoln, have been awarded £10,000 funding from Diabetes UK for a year-long study..

They want 100 Type One diabetics to complete an online survey. The researchers are also seeking video footage of dogs reacting to their owner's 'hypos' or low blood sugar levels.
‘Anecdotal reports suggest that some dogs can perform early warning of hypoglycaemia by using their sense of smell to sniff out if their owner's blood sugar levels are dropping,’ Dr Wells said.

‘At present there are a couple of people in the UK trying to train dogs for hypoglycaemia detection, but scientific study of this phenomenon is sorely lacking and in much need of investigation.’

She went to say that the study has the potential to be of enormous benefit and could be used to help develop an ‘electronic nose’ to detect either decreases or increases in blood sugar levels.
‘The video footage will be analysed to see if dogs exhibit any changes in behaviour or show alertness,’ she said.

If you would like to participate, please complete a 15-minute questionnaire on the internet or by post. Participation is voluntary and all data collected will be treated as confidential. Participants will not be required to disclose their names or any personal details on the questionnaire.
www.psych.qub.ac.uk/surveys/diabetes

By Nick Mays, Chief Reporter