Since epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders in the world and more than half of the patients do not know when a seizure is imminent, the precautions in epilepsy are becoming more diverse and effective. Service dogs are incredible and invaluable animals that provide people with the opportunity to live healthily and safely. Countless people are able to perform everyday tasks and important things with the help of their service dog. Some of these dogs, known as “seizure alert dogs”, detect impending epilepsy and other non-epileptic seizures. Their prompt warnings give patients or caregivers enough time to reduce or prevent seizures. We will examine more information about seizure alert dogs later.
What are seizure alert dogs?
Seizure alert dogs, as one type of service dogs, have an innate ability to detect an oncoming seizure and can be trained to warn their human partners of the seizure through simple behaviors. A well-trained seizure alert dog can alert up to an hour before a seizure is imminent, which can greatly prevent serious injuries due to falling. Service dogs for alerting seizure give individuals greater independence and increase their quality of life. Adults and children who suffer from epilepsy appreciate their seizure alert dog, as the dog helps them get involved in everyday activities without fear of having a seizure in public.
How do seizure alert dogs warn their partner of an oncoming seizure?
About 15% of dogs can naturally sense an impending seizure anywhere from about 10 minutes up to 12 hours in advance. This innate ability is not related to the dog’s age, breed, sex, and characteristics. The dogs that possess this ability can be promoted and encouraged through positive reinforcement. They will be trained to give a warning through certain behaviors to alert the person, such as:
• Close eye contact
• Acting restless
Once people receive the warning of their service dog, they still have enough time to move to a safe place, take medications and get away from crowds. Prompt precautions can effectively prevent serious injuries.
The difference between a seizure alert dog and a seizure response dog
It is important to distinguish seizure alert dogs from seizure response dogs. Seizure responds dogs are service dogs who are trained to respond to their human partner when a seizure occurs. These dogs cannot detect an imminent seizure but can protect their partner and provide vital help in a variety of ways. Seizure responds dogs may respond to the seizure by instinct or undergo special training to assist their partner during or following the seizure.
Although a seizure alert dog can be trained to become a seizure response dog, the few potential seizure alert dogs and their high training costs in organizations reduce the number of seizure alert and response dogs. People prefer to train their own household dog to be a seizure response dog.
In short, a dog can be both a seizure alert and a seizure response dog, but dogs can not be trained to alert to impending seizures because seizure alert dogs are alerting to seizures naturally.
The tasks that a seizure respond dog performs are more complicated than those of a seizure alert dog. They include:
• Getting assistance from caregivers, family members, or even passers-by
• Operating a call button or calling an emergency team using a special phone
• Nosing or turning the person around to create an open airway
• Drag or block the person from stairs or intersections
• Create a barrier between the crowd and the person to protect the person
Finally, when the person is recovering from the seizure, seizure response dogs always help the person to feel reassured and confident under the assistance of their dog.