The benefits of seizure alert dogs for people with epilepsy

Lucy, Service Dog in Training

What is an epilepsy alert dog?

An epilepsy alert dog is a service dog that has been specifically trained and placed with an owner who has epilepsy, in order to respond to their seizures. They are also known as ‘seizures dogs’, ‘seizure alert dogs’, ‘epilepsy dogs’, and ‘seizure predicting dogs’, although some of these terminologies represent different types of service dog.

Seizure alert dogs vs seizure response dogs

These two terms are used to differentiate between different types of seizure service dogs.

Seizure alert dogs are taught to identify chemical changes in their owner’s body that can indicate when a seizure is imminent. This gives them the ability to warn the person of an impending seizure before it happens. Warning methods can include barking in a specific way, pawing at the person’s clothing, or a specific pose/posture that the dog only uses when producing a warning.

The main purpose of a seizure response dog is to act as a comforting presence to allow a person to regain their bearings and refrain from panicking after a seizure has occurred. A seizure can leave the person feeling disorientated and confused; these service dogs try to limit this.

How do epilepsy alert dogs help during seizures?

Forewarning of a seizure can be vital in ensuring a person’s safety. If they are in a public place, or in a potentially dangerous situation such as dealing with machinery, around hot objects (e.g. whilst cooking) or in proximity to stairs/trip hazards/fall hazards, the person has time to remove themselves from that situation and find a safer place.

Advanced warnings give the person time to take medication that may help to prevent or reduce the intensity of the seizure. They can notify family, friends, or caregivers of their situation to ensure they have the support and help needed.

Real-life stories of seizure service dogs

  • A Californian woman who suffers from seizures inadvertently adopted a dog from a shelter that was able to identify when these were about to occur. The early warnings she receives from her dog, Thor, allow her to take medication that reduces the length of her seizures.

More information about epilepsy seizure alert dogs

If you require any more information about seizure alert service dogs, or would like to talk to us about how Canines for Change could help you on your journey to get your own service dog, please get in touch.

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