The March, 2008 issue of Diabetes Forecast, the healthy living magazine of the American Diabetes Association, contained an article (PDF format) describing yet another way in which pets are beneficial to the health of the people with whom they live.
From the article:
No one knows for sure how they do it, but a growing number of canine companions are helping people with diabetes avoid dangerous hypoglycemia.
Diabetes is a disease marked by abnormal blood sugar levels. Most of the time, diabetics suffer from levels that are too high. However, in some instances sudden drops in blood sugar can occur. This may lead to hypoglycemia, or dangerously low blood sugar levels. Extreme hypoglycemia can result in coma, seizures, or even death.
The article describes several instances in which dogs, cats, and even rabbits and birds have alerted their human companions that their blood sugar levels were too low. Many people credit their pets with saving their lives. In some cases, dogs are able to detect an impending drop in blood sugar even before it occurs.
Dogs now are being trained to assist diabetics, much like they aid people with vision or hearing deficits. Dogs4Diabetics, based in Concord, California, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to training dogs for this purpose.
Dogs are helpful for the prevention of diabetes (because they cause people to exercise more). And it turns out that for people who have diabetes, a pet can be a true lifesaver.