As a type 1 diabetic of 36 years, Barry Kaminsky is no stranger to the concerns involved with managing his blood sugar.
But he worries a lot less these days thanks to an improved diet and his dog, Gusty, who has been trained to recognize and alert on low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. The condition is characterized by an abnormally low level of blood sugar or glucose, which is the body’s main source of energy.
Recognizing hypoglycemia is important because the body needs a steady supply of glucose to function properly. Symptoms of low blood sugar include confusion, visual disturbances, seizures, loss of consciousness, shakiness, anxiety, heart palpitations, sweating and tingling sensation around the mouth.
Gusty was trained by Diabetic for Dogs, Inc a non-profit organization, to identify a scent from a diabetic undergoing a low blood sugar. When she recognizes this scent in her owner, Barry, she reacts in a unique way.
“She alerts me by putting her bringsel (a 6-inch piece of webbing material that hangs down from her collar) in her mouth,” said Barry.
Barry’s wife, Shirley, said Gusty persists until her message is delivered. “If he ignores her, she will growl – not a loud one – just to warn him,” she said. Shirley said the 5-year-old Yellow Labrador Retriever gives them peace of mind when it comes to helping Barry manage his diabetes.
“It’s been such a relief for me because I don’t worry as much,” said Shirley. “I know the dog is going to alert Barry before he gets dangerously low. I sleep better.”
Barry, a retired physician, said Gusty is not the only reason he has peace of mind when it comes to his diabetes.
Barry credits the use of Extend Nutrition snacks for also helping him with his diabetes.
The snacks, a good food for low blood sugar, were created by Dr. Francine Kaufman, a world-wide endocrinologist and past president of the American Diabetes Association. Hypoglycemia can be prevented with a balanced diet that includes good food for low blood sugar and regular exercise.
Extend Nutrition snacks are ideal to prevent blood sugar lows before they happen. In clinical studies, the snacks helped reduce the risk of hypoglycemia at night by 75 percent. Extend Nutrition uses a patented formula to help prevent low blood sugar for up to 9 hours.
The key ingredient in Extend Nutrition is a unique complex carbohydrate, uncooked cornstarch, which metabolizes slowly and helps to stabilize blood sugar for longer than anything else on the market. Barry said his favorite Extend Nutrition snack is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Delight bar.
“I always have one with me,” said Barry. “They have been a part of my life for five years.”
Gusty, in comparison, has been with the couple for three years, but has become a loving member of the family. Shirley, a retired nurse, said taking care of her husband is a lot more enjoyable now that Barry has Gusty and an improved diet.
“He always said I was the diabetic police,” she said with a smile. “I don’t have to be anymore.”