Medical Alert Dogs are trained to help people with life-threatening health conditions, giving them greater independence and impacting their lives on a daily basis. Just Dogs Behaviour is working to introduce medical alert dogs for people with Type one diabetes, as well as a number of other medical conditions in South Africa.

Dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex health conditions. They are taught to identify the behavioural and minute odour changes of their owners that are associated with life-threatening medical events. The avoidance of dangerously low blood sugar levels (Hypoglycaemia) is an acute daily problem for people with diabetes. When accompanied by loss of warnings it has a dramatic effect on the lives of both the person with diabetes and their family.  Low blood sugar levels are very dangerous if left untreated. Symptoms vary from confusion to seizures to comas, and can become life-threatening.

With their amazing sense of smell dogs can be trained to detect minute changes in blood sugar levels. When these levels fall or rise outside the normal range they will warn their owner, get help and fetch any vital medical supplies.

Honey’s Garden for Medical Alert Dogs is a division of Just Dogs Behaviour Pty (Ltd).

Lucy Breytenbach

I am a canine behaviour practitioner with a BSc (Hons) degree in Animal Science, Behaviour and Welfare, and over 10 years of experience training dogs.

Animals are my passion and my life, and I truly believe that dogs are one of Gods special gifts to us. It is known that dogs have the capability to comfort and protect people and that they are truly “man’s best friend”. Dogs will naturally console people, improve mental health and ultimately give unconditional love. Pets have been used as therapy for years, the lessons they can teach us are endless. The fact that their incredible sense of smell can be utilised to help people in need, is the cherry on top of the cake! I don’t know about you, but I am beyond excited to see how they can continue to help us.

I am from the UK and have been here in South Africa for 5 years. I was shocked to discover that the only available assistance dogs were guide dogs. There are no diabetic, epileptic or hearing dogs; and I want to change this. I believe that the right to have a medical alert dog should be extended to everybody who needs it in SA and if we can make it as affordable as possible then we can help more people.