AskNadia: Should I get A Therapy Dog Because My Great Niece’s Fluctuating Blood Sugars?

My great niece was diagnosed three years ago with diabetes she is now 13.  She gives herself seven shots a day.  Her sugar fluctuates so much that my niece seriously wants to get her a therapy dog.  The problem is she is a single mom with two other children trying to put herself through college and no money.  If we could get some guidance or suggestions on what our next step should be, please help.  Thank you in advance

 Cathy G

Dear Cathy,

Your niece and grand niece are lucky to have you in their life as an advocate for helping them cope with the daily diabetes management of fluctuating blood sugars. Family support makes a big difference. Particularly for a single mother working her way through college with children. The simple act of having anther family member that you can discuss diabetes self-management can be the difference between feeling hopeless and hopeful.

Fluctuating Blood Sugars

When you have Type 1 diabetes, fluctuating blood sugars comes with the territory. Surrendering to the diagnosis with the intention to minimize the blood sugar swings, will help you think more clearly. This way you take the fight and fear out of the blood sugar equation. Trust and know there are millions of people that have gone through the different stages in learning tighter bold sugar control. Your niece and her daughter are on a learning curve on what to do next.


Every Sunday we post an article called “In The Trenches With Diabetes Dad.” This column is authored by a father of a child, with type 1 diabetes. He offers weekly insight to families for children with diabetes; reminding us of all the right things being done by families and people living with type 1 diabetes.

Anther organization that works with schools, healthcare facilities like clinics and hospitals and parents is My Care Connect Foundation.  John and his wife Pam Henry started this organization because, like your niece, they were concerned about their daughter’s diabetes. They now have an online system, Android, and iPhone apps, that connect the family, healthcare professionals, and school, to monitor the child’s blood sugars.  If a child’s blood sugar drops, parents are notified through the Blue Loop system about the child’s blood sugar level.

Their Blue Loop System comes with a nominal fee. However,  John and Pam Henry rarely turn families away because of their lack of funds.

 Children with Diabetes started by Jeff Hitchcock is an organization that found its roots 1995. Jeff and his Board of Directors wanted to create an environment for families and children to come together and support one anther. This organization grew into national conferences which are held in both East and West Coast of the United States.

Diabetes Education and Camping Association is a camping network organization that brings 400 diabetes camps from all over the world together. Families attending these camps make life-long friends and develop a well-needed support system with each other. For some kids, it is the first opportunity for them to meet anther person with type 1 diabetes. Instead of being the one kid at camp with diabetes, the child is at a camp where all the children have diabetes. Can you imagine the impact this will have on the child and their family?

The parents sending their kids to these camps will not have sleepless nights, knowing the camping staff knows exactly what to do should their child experience a low blood sugar.

Most camps will have a scholarships fund. I would recommend that your niece looks into this. She most likely will find the support that she needs.

Tight Blood Sugar Control for People with Type 1 Diabetes

One of the best therapies for type 1 diabetes is an insulin pump. Most people that go on a pump will tell you that it does not eliminate the hypoglycemia episodes, but it will minimize it. You will want to see a healthcare professional that is familiar with insulin pump therapy.

A physician will calculate what your grand niece basal insulin needs while a certified diabetes educator will teach you about counting carbs and bolusing insulin.

Basal insulin replaces the long-acting insulin your great niece takes, and the bolus insulin replaces the insulin injection she would take before eating a meal.


Continuous glucose monitoring is anther great medical device that provides blood sugar trending feedback.  For Example, let’s say your grand niece is going to calculate how much insulin to give herself, but before doing so, she looks at her CGM to see which way her blood sugars are trending. If she sees her blood sugars trending down to a lower blood sugar level, she may choose to adjust her insulin accordingly.

A first all of this seems overwhelming. However, the benefits out way the learning curve. Like everything else, with the proper training and healthcare professional team, your great niece will experience tighter blood sugar control.

Insurance Coverage for Insulin Pumps and CGM’s

While these medical devices are not inexpensive, insulin pumps are covered by most insurance companies.

The continuous glucose monitor, on the other hand, is receiving wider coverage nationally.

The  California Health Benefits Review is currently analyzing Bill (AB) 447 (Gray) to determine if  CGM therapy will be covered. If your niece calls California home, she will want to stay abreast on this new bill.

A Therapy Dog

I am assuming you mean a dog that senses low blood sugar when you say a therapy dog?  We have written several articles about dogs that sense hypoglycemia. There is a cost to aquiring theses dogs and an application process that insures the best match for the dog and the person living with type 1 diabetes.

You might be interested in reading Mark Ruefenacht’s story about how he has trained dogs to sense hypoglycemia. It all started when he was traveling with his dog Benton, who woke him up one evening because he reacted to a change in Mark’s sent while he was asleep.

I hope you find the direction you need from these resources. Keep in touch and let us all know how your great niece progresses.

Yours truly,


If you have a question or would like to share your story, write me directly. I look forward to reading and sharing your experience with diabetes.


Nadia’s feedback on your question is in no way intended to initiate or replace your healthcare professionals therapy or advice. Please check in with your medical team to discuss your diabetes management concerns.

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About Nadia:

Nadia is a diabetes advocate that was not only born into a family with diabetes but also married into one. She was propelled at a young age into “caretaker mode,” and

with her knowledge of the scarcity of resources, support, and understanding for people with diabetes, co-founded Diabetes Interview, now Diabetes Health magazine.

Nadia has received 14 nominations for her work as a diabetes advocate.
 She has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and other major cable networks. Her publications, medical supply business, and website have been cited, recognized and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal, Ann Lander’s advice column, former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca, Entrepreneur magazine, Houston News,, Brand Week, Drug Topics, and many other media outlets.



















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