Friday, October 25, 2013

Have you ever wondered exactly how our Diabetic Alert Dogs work?

We receive many questions about our Diabetic Alert Dogs, how they work, and what benefit they provide to the families in our program. In this area we will take the time to introduce you to the program to give you further insight on how a Diabetic Alert Dog would benefit you or someone you love.

While how we train our dogs is proprietary information, how they work is a very interesting method! Our dogs work for Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetics, people with Hypoglycemia, glycogen storage disease, and any other condition which adversely affects blood glucose - no matter the severity! You do not need a physician order to receive one of our Service Dogs, and we do not discriminate based on financial status, age, or location.

Lets discuss how these dogs do the amazing things they do! Canine olfactory ability has been used since the beginning of time, starting as a way to track food for themselves and humans and evolving into one of the most widely used forms of investigation for law enforcement. Now, dogs are even being tested to sense things such as cancer in at-risk patients! Our 4 legged friends are incredibly intelligent! Have you had a chance to see the video of a dog driving a car? Remarkable! It is well known that dogs can be trained as guide animals for the blind. This should give you some insight into how deeply we humans trust in the canine brain, and now we're using it to help families keep a tighter handle on something very difficult to control - blood glucose levels.

This hypothesis started with the realization that even humans can observe a sweet smell coming from the breath of someone with dangerously high blood glucose. A dog's sense of smell is between 1,000 and 10,000 times stronger than a human sense of smell depending on the breed. Labrador Retrievers, the breed we utilize in our D.A.D program, have more than 220,000,000 (two hundred and twenty million) olfactory receptors compared to the human 5 million. So how much earlier can they smell the sweet smell of high blood sugar? Much earlier! When a blood sugar begins to go low, the body gives off a metallic, or acetone, smell - much like the smell of rusty water or nail polish remover. They smell this too!

Your family will receive a 4-6 month old Labrador Retriever who is placed by a Trainer and begins scent training to the diabetic in your family. Your D.A.D does this through a comprehensive and custom tailored 2 year training program. This training program is complete with 8 phases, each introduced during a training visit by your Warren Retrievers Trainer. A range is set and your D.A.D begins to learn to alert you when you rise or fall out of that range. For instance, one of our families chooses a range of 90-150. Their D.A.D alerts to any number under 90 and any number over 150. Our dogs are trained to recognize the strength of the scent for the ends of the range. The D.A.D is trained to note how acidic 90 smells and that smell or stronger triggers an alert. The same for the high numbers - the D.A.D notes how sweet 150 smells and that smell or sweeter triggers an alert. This allows the diabetic to keep a tighter range on his or her numbers. A1C, the 3 month average of blood sugars, are historically reduced when our families are using D.A.D's. The higher the A1C, the higher the numbers have been the last 3 months. Since we are teaching our dogs to alert at that cusp of rise or fall in blood glucose levels, it reduces the amount of time a blood sugar is out of range. Our dogs consistently alert 20-40 minutes prior to a a glucose monitor reading the change. Keeping a tighter control reduces the risk of complications. 

Complications of prolonged high blood sugar include:

  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Nerve Damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney Damage
  • Kidney Failure
  • Damage to blood vessels in the eyes (diabetic retinopathy)
  • Blindness
  • Impaired Circulation leading to problems with the legs and feet
  • Amputation of legs and/or feet
  • Bone and Joint problems
  • Skin Problems (Bacterial infections, Fungal Infections, Non-Healing wounds)
  • Tooth and gum infections
  • Coma
  • Death
Complications of frequent low blood sugar include:
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Shakiness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Headache
  • Behavior Changes
  • Lack of concentration
  • Death
Reducing the likelihood of these complications is a key reason in seeking out a Service Dog for yourself or someone you love!

We do not discriminate based on financial status. The families that join our organization help keep us alive by hosting fundraisers and helping raise money so we can continue our mission. We firmly believe no family should have to personally pay for a Service Dog. We are a fully incorporated 501c3 Non Profit organization, but we are also a business which incurs costs. Therefore, we ask our families to become Ambassadors for our organization. Most families become actively enrolled with a $1,000 commitment, then continue to fundraise with the help of Chapter Managers placed in individual states throughout the US, and through our National Director of Outreach. This additional assistance is provided at no extra cost to our families. These individuals, which all possess a fundraising expertise and level of experience, guide our families in developing and carrying out campaigns to benefit our organization. We allow a flexible 3-year campaign in conjunction with receiving your D.A.D, rather than other companies which require funding up front prior to gaining access to your new family member and management tool.

The money raised allows us the ability to access puppies bred with the most rigid health clearances, it allows us to pay for the cost of our facility, the veterinarian on staff, the training prior to delivery, the highest quality food for our puppies, it allows us to pay our amazing trainers who spend weeks away from their families to help our families. Our organization and our trainers understand the toll dealing with a chronic disability takes on the entire family, so we bring the training to you! Our trainers travel to you, conduct their training visits at your home or your location of choice, and do so on your time schedule! We want your new D.A.D to fit perfectly into your life! Donations to our organization are what keep us able to deliver these lifesaving furry friends to families across the world. Yes, the world! All 50 states, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. If you are currently in another part of the world, please do not hesitate to contact us, we will certainly try to make delivery to you possible. 

For more questions, or to inquire about how to join our program, please visit our home website, or contact Dan Warren via e-mail at or via phone at 540-543-2307

If you or someone you know could benefit from a Service Dog (or $20,000) please consider entering a drawing where the winner will receive a Service Dog with 2 years of training (which can be gifted to a loved one should you choose), or $20,000 in cash! There are 500 slots and we are only offering this opportunity until October 31, 2013. Tickets are $100 and at the time of this post there are only 274 more tickets available! To purchase a ticket please click on the picture below

We look forward to hearing from you. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook to hear the winner be announced!  

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