Service animals have been around for some time, but seizure-alert dogs are a more recent development. Dogs started being used for detecting seizure in the mid-nineties. Able to warn those suffering from epilepsy of an approaching attack minutes (and sometimes hours) before they occur, seizure warning dogs can be life savers. Even a few minutes of warning will allow the seizure sufferer to take seizure blocking medication, get in touch with someone for help, or just get to a safe place to avoid other bodily injury brought on by the seizure.
There are no conclusive scientific studies about how dogs are able to detect seizures before they happen, but some dog trainers believe that canines are able to detect either changes in behavior or the bodily scent of the seizure sufferer.
What is most interesting is that there is no training that happens in order for a dog to be able to detect and warn of seizures. It is something that certain dogs are born with.
How Do Seizure Alert Dogs Help?
Seizure dogs, aside from being able to detect seizures before they occur, they are also trained to help their owner once a seizure occurs.
- When sensing an oncoming seizure, the detection dog will display alter behaviors
- Remain close to the owner once a seizure does occur in help prevent potential injuries
- Protect the owner by staying close during a seizure in order to prevent injury or from wondering off
- They alert a caretaker or the emergency response system
- Bringing the telephone, medication or alert device to the owner suffering a seizure
There are a variety of ways that a dog alerts of an approaching seizure. They behaviors include:
- Barking, pawing, or licking
- Acting restlessly (circling or pacing)
- Making and maintaining close eye contact
Seizure Dog Training Organizations
There are a variety of organizations which dedicate their efforts into finding, training and placing dogs which have the ability to detect oncoming seizures. There are two types of seizure dogs, ones that respond once a seizure has occurred (seizure response), and ones which alert of an impending seizure (seizure alert).
Seizure alert and response dogs enable their owners to live a more independent life than they otherwise could, by giving them the confidence to maintain jobs, drive, or go out grocery shopping.