By Mike Sweet, DVM

I have been playing with animals and practicing Veterinary medicine for almost 43 years. I have a basic understanding of the animal human bond. I thought I knew all of the pertinent facts about the importance of animals in our daily lives. In this instance I am referring to a dog. During an exam for an ear issue and a remarkable weight loss of twenty five pounds down to a svelte 123 pounds the owner asked a question out of the blue. This was one that made me appreciate the depth and breadth of a marvelous dog in stabilizing monitoring people’s medical conditions.
When examining Apollo the owner wished to know if a dog can detect hypoglycemia in a diabetic. It turns out that her father has early signs of elder memory disorder. Whenever Dad’s blood glucose gets down to less than 60 mg/dL Apollo comes over and starts bumping him with his nose. Daughter says they test blood glucose and it is 50. This is amazing to me. Apollo is very accurate. He somehow is able to pick up on mannerisms, breathing patterns or personal chemistry changes from the hypoglycemia. The amazing thing to me is he picked up this skill by himself and acted on it.
Geriatric people that become hypoglycemic become combative, confused and unable to function when the insulin kicks in. I do not know how many times or how often this occurs. This is a case of a dog being a hero in his own living room.
I had given the owners a discussion in April of this year about obesity being a big factor in shortening a dog’s life span. I probably recruited everyone in the household about the importance of keeping Apollo lean so he will live as long as possible. His job is to keep Grandpa out of diabetic hypoglycemia danger. Things that amaze me are: 1) with enough faith and personal motivation mountains of problems can be moved. 2) Dogs continue to excite me with an innate sense of duty and problem solving ability that has been over looked. 3) I need the positive reinforcement of a warm fuzzy story every now and then. I sometimes feel like the voice in the wilderness or the parable about casting seeds on fertile ground or on the rocks.
How do dogs pick up these unexplained skills? The list includes cancer sniffing for skin tumors and ovarian / cervical cancer in women. There are dogs trained to alert on heart attacks, and seizures. Most people are aware of military canines, police dogs, cadaver dogs, bomb sniffing dogs, and drug detection canines. All of these dogs use skills and abilities we humans marvel at but cannot duplicate.
I am reminded about the story of a woman that had her pet pass away and brought it in to a veterinarian. She wanted to verify its demise. The pet was declared nonliving by the DVM. She wanted to be sure so he said there were two other things to try. He brought in a cat and it went up and sniffed the pet and walked away. He then brought in a black dog and it also sniffed and walked away. The doctor said I am sorry we now have additional confirmation of passing by cat-scan and Lab test.
These Hero dogs definitely add intangible value to our lives.
For more information about a specific case, consult your veterinarian.
The outside of a pet is good for the inside of a human.

Mike Sweet, DVM
Milan Veterinary Clinic 734-439-1112
140 W Main St
Milan, MI 48160

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