FRIDAY, Jan. 18, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Trained alert dogs can help patients with type 1 diabetes regulate their blood glucose levels, according to a study published online Jan. 15 in PLOS ONE.

Nicola J. Rooney, Ph.D., from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed the reliability of a trained glycemic alert dog at responding to 4,000 hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic events (referred to as out-of-range episodes) among patients with type 1 diabetes living with 27 glycemia alert dogs.

The researchers found that the 27 dogs varied in their performance, with median sensitivity to out-of-range episodes at 70 percent. Median sensitivity to out-of-range episodes was 83 percent for hypoglycemic episodes and 67 percent for hyperglycemic episodes. The median positive predictive value for alerts was 81 percent, but reached 100 percent for four dogs. Performance was significantly associated with individual characteristics of the dog, the partnership, and the household (e.g., whether the dog was previously a pet, when it was trained, whether its partner was an adult or child).

“Results show that optimal performance of glycemic alert dogs depends not only on good initial and ongoing training, but also careful selection of dogs for the conditions in which they will be working,” the authors write.

Rooney disclosed financial ties to Medical Detection Dogs.

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