Diabetes detection dogs in the spotlight at European Pet Night 2015

Dr Claire Guest, co-founder and CEO of UK charity Medical Detection Dogs was the keynote speaker at the 11th edition of European Pet Night. Organised in Brussels by the European Federation for Animal Health IFAH-Europe (of which NOAH is a member) and partners, the event spotlighted alert assistance dogs trained to assist people who manage severe cases of diabetes. These dogs are taught to identify changes in odour associated with fluctuations in blood glucose levels.

Dr Guest explained that the charity trains specialist dogs in the detection of human diseases through scent and breath samples: “Dogs play a key role in developing new approaches for the detection of life-threatening diseases. Thanks to them, we are currently working on a number of pioneering research projects involving canine olfaction, including the training of dogs to detect cancer, blood sugar changes, Addison’s disease and narcolepsy.”

Accompanying Claire was 12-year old Gemma who was diagnosed with diabetes a month before her third birthday. Gemma has been saved multiple times thanks to her black Labrador, Polo, a medical alert assistance dog. Gemma described having Polo: “He is my best friend. I love him so much. We have great fun together and he also makes me feel safe and confident —I can’t imagine life without him!”

The event, which brought together multiple NGOs from across Europe, key decision-makers and people with an interest in pets, was held under the patronage of Members of the European Parliament, including the MEP for South West of England Julie Girling, as well as German MEP Norbert Lins.

Referring to the current European review of the Veterinary Medicines Legislation, which governs how animal medicines are authorised and placed on the market, Julie Girling said, “This review should aim at stimulating innovation to encourage investment into research for new and improved medicines for all animals.” Norbert Lins added, “Pet health and welfare is a central element of responsible pet ownership and goes hand in hand with human health. In this regard better access to all relevant medicines across Europe plays a key role.”

The 2015 edition of European Pet Night had a special twist: IFAH-Europe will make donations to animal-related charities chosen by those MEPs who attended the event with pieces of a jigsaw sent with their invitations. Each of the four jigsaw pieces explain how animal health contributes to society, making the link with ongoing legislative dossiers, medical awareness and European Pet Night.

Alejandro Bernal, Chairman of IFAH-Europe highlighted: “Raising awareness of the crucial contribution pets and working animals make to society should serve as an impetus for improving legislation affecting pet health and welfare. The current revision of the veterinary Directive should ensure that if a medicine is licensed in one country, it should be available EU-wide to the benefit of all pets across Europe.”


The following European organisations and institutions co-organised European Pet Night in 2015:

  • AAII (assistance animals)
  • Activ’DOG – ADEu (assistance dogs)
  • Carocat and Carodog (cat and dog care)
  • Dyadis (assistance dogs)
  • DG SANTE(European Commission Directorate General for Health and Food Safety)
  • EMVD (veterinary diagnostics)
  • EPRUMA (European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals)
  • ESCCAP (companion animal parasitology)
  • Ethologia Plus (human-animal interaction)
  • EU Dog and Cat Alliance – Eurogroup for Animals (animal welfare)
  • FCI (canines)
  • FECAVA (companion animal veterinarians)
  • FVE (veterinarians)
  • HETI (hippotherapy)
  • IAHAIO (human-animal interaction)
  • IFAH-Europe(animal health)
  • IFAW (animal welfare)
  • Scale Dogs (assistance dogs)

IFAH-Europe is the representative body of manufacturers of veterinary medicines, vaccines and other animal health products in Europe. It promotes a single market in veterinary medicines across the EU ensuring the availability of medicines to protect the health and welfare of animals. For further information on IFAH-Europe, please visit www.ifaheurope.org

For further press information please contact Kim Hardie, Communications Director Tel.: +32 2 543 75 75. E-mail: k.hardie@ifahsec.org

please acknowledge © www.creative-light.be.

3 March 2015

Notes for Editors

  1. For further information on NOAH contact Alison Glennon at NOAH, tel. +44 (0)20 8367 3131, or visit the NOAH website.

  2. The National Office of Animal Health represents the UK animal medicines industry: its aim is to promote the benefits of safe, effective, quality medicines for the health and welfare of all animals.