Updated: Wednesday, 01 Aug 2012, 2:55 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012, 6:50 PM EDT
INDIANPOLIS (WISH) - Dogs are known as a man's best friend, but for diabetics they are proven life savers.
A joint partnership between the Indianapolis Canine Assistant Network and Eli Lilly is training dogs to detect low blood sugar attacks in diabetics.
One of those dogs, a 2-year-old black lab named Pete, can smell out a when a diabetic's blood sugar gets really low.
“A dog is 10,000 times more sensitive to smell than we are. They have (an) entire chamber of receptors in their nose just for smell," said Dr. Dana Hardin with Eli Lilly.
Pete and his handler, Dr. Dana Hardin, come to work together. Dr. Hardin is leading a study at Eli Lilly to figure out what's inside a dog's nose that detects low sugar in people with Type 1 Diabetes. She hopes what's learned from Pete will save lives across the county.
“We are hoping at ICAN to standardize how dogs are trained for hypoglycemia alerts so it can reproduced by other programs,” Dr. Hardin said.
Low blood sugar attacks can cause a person to suddenly pass out. It can mean a trip to the hospital -- even death. Dogs like Pete are trained to detect changes in a person's body chemistry to avoid big problems.
Dr. Hardin hopes that in a year's time, the mystery of how Pete's nose knows so much can be solved.
In the last 10 years, the Indiana Canine Assistant Network has trained 100 dogs for people with all sorts of disabilities.
The cost to train a dog with Pete's special abilities can exceed $25,000.
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