How Your Dog Can Help You Manage Your Diabetes
There are many benefits to owning a pet. When it comes to your health, pets can provide comfort, companionship, and a reason to get out of the house. Dogs are good for you whether you need a furry friend or not. Sometimes, if you have a chronic condition like diabetes, your pup could actually help improve your symptoms — or even save your life.
How does diabetes impact your health?
Diabetes develops either when the pancreas stops producing insulin (Type 1) or the body becomes resistant to the insulin the pancreas produces (Type 2).
If your diabetes gets out of control, you could experience nerve damage and hearing loss. Some people also suffer from gangrene, foot ulcers, and even kidney damage and disease.
There is no cure — so how do you manage it?
Learning how to managing your diabetes can require a lot of time and very specific lifestyle changes.
People with Type 2 diabetes especially must learn to alter their diets, take their medications and test their blood sugar properly, and incorporate more physical activity into their routines to stay healthy. It turns out your dog might be able to help with a few of these changes.
They give you a reason to exercise
Dogs need walking. Depending on the breed, they also might love to run around and play. It’s difficult to own an exercise-dependent dog without getting physically active yourself just by default. Exercise isn’t just good for your body — it’s also good for your brain.
Staying physically active can help to improve your mental health whenever diabetes gets you down.
Your dog can ease your loneliness
Whether you’re dealing with a recent diagnosis or you’re struggling to manage your condition, diabetes sometimes brings with it feelings of loneliness and depression. A canine can’t cure this directly — but it can keep you company, and even cheer you up.
Your dog can sense when you need some extra love. They might also be able to sense when you’re minutes away from a diabetic emergency.
Your dog may be able to sense when your blood sugar is low
Many dogs can detect a dangerous rise or fall in their owners’ blood sugar levels. In cases of Type 1 diabetes, dangerously low hypoglycemia releases a chemical called isoprene in the breath that dogs can smell.
You might be able to train your dog to alert you when a change like this occurs — but obtaining a dog trained specifically to assist you might also help.
If you need one, you can get a diabetes alert dog
There are many types of service dogs specially trained to assist humans in getting around or managing chronic, physical conditions or mental illnesses. Diabetes alert dogs are trained to warn their handlers of rising or dropping blood sugar levels so they can take necessary action.
Some organizations will train your own dog to do this for you, if the pup is up to the task.
Other health benefits of owning a dog
Dogs are more than just animals. For some people, they’re a happy, playful form of therapy. Owning a dog can improve your mood, boost your immune system, and even reduce your anxiety and help you stay physically active.
Whether you have a chronic condition that makes life more stressful or you just want someone to snuggle with, a dog can change your life for the better.
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