Sarah Kane ’19 co-authored a paper that was recently published in Frontiers of Veterinary Science. “An Owner-Independent Investigation of Diabetes Alert Dog Performance” presents the results of research conducted during Kane’s spring 2018 semester abroad in Bristol, England.
Kane and her fellow researchers in the U.K. studied the ability of diabetes alert dogs (DADs) to alert both hypo- and hyperglycemic episodes accurately. Using closed circuit television footage of dogs and their owners, they compared DAD performance to glucose level data from continuous glucose monitoring systems used by the owners.
The researchers found that overall accuracy varied by dog and that “DAD performance is affected by traits and behaviors of both the dog and owner.”
They concluded that “combined with existing research showing the perceived psychosocial value and reduced critical health care needs of DAD users, this study supports the value of a DAD as part of a diabetes care plan. It also highlights the importance of ongoing training and continued monitoring to ensure optimal performance.”
The authors said that although there have been other research on DAD accuracy — most based on owner-informed or owner-reported data — theirs is the first entirely owner-independent assessment of DAD performance.
Kane, who majored in biology at Hamilton, is currently employed by the Penn Vet Working Dog Center in Philadelphia. Last summer, she was an intern at the center’s Canine Handler Academy, a camp for middle school students that aims to “educate and inspire the next generation of veterinarians, working dog handlers, and canine enthusiasts.”