There have been tons of assistance dogs who were successful in identifying their owners’ low blood sugar levels and set a warning of a potential hypoglycemia attack. If you ever wondered how dogs do that, then several scientist have unraveled the amazing discover behind it.
Pooches certainly have that gift of seeing the world more through smelling. A good and shocking example of this is that they can smell a tiny amount of a teaspoon of sugar put into a couple of Olympic sized swimming pools. Hence, it would not be a huge wonder if they can serve this purpose in detecting medical conditions like cancer or diabetes.
It Must Be Isoprene!
The very thing that these dogs may be smelling is the isoprene, which is a common chemical which can be found in human breath. This was discovered when the researchers from the Wellcome Trust – MRC Institute of Metabolic Science together with the University of Cambridge came up with a new study.
They gathered a total of 8 women who all have type 1 diabetes. They were placed on controlled scenarios where their blood sugar levels were lowered. The scientists searched for chemical signatures that will recognize particular molecules through mass spectrometry.
They discovered that the isoprene levels increased when there is hypoglycemia. These were even some whose isoprene doubled up!
The dogs were observed to be sensitive to isoprene and they can certainly tell when the breath of their owners contain too much of it.
The researchers in the study would like to go further with the plan of coming up with a medical sensor that can do the same diabetes detection similar to how dogs detect it by mere sniffing.
If this turns out successful, then it could be a helpful breath device that could serve as replacement to the prick test used currently among diabetics.
When Your Dog Detects It
By the way, when a dog detects episodes of a hypoglycemia attack, they inform their owners by doing several gestures. These could range from barking, suddenly laying down or even placing their paws on the shoulders of their owners.
There were even past claims that dogs can also smell other diseases like lung cancer and even Parkinson’s Disease among others.