Prevention is the best strategy for avoiding seizure-related injuries. Some persons with epilepsy have reported that their dogs are able to “sense” when a seizure is coming and therefore able to reduce their seizure-related injuries.
Upon sensing an oncoming seizure, the dog may respond in a variety of ways such as whining, pawing, and remaining close to the owner. This distinctive behavior can alert and warn the person or their family that a seizure may soon occur. This behavior has been reported in a number of different breeds. It is possible that dogs can detect some change (for instance, an odor or tone of the voice) that warns them of an approaching seizure, similar to the way that certain symptoms warn some patients.
No scientific studies of seizure-alert dogs have been completed, however, so it remains uncertain whether dogs can reliably “sense” an impending seizure, including how often they are correct when they indicate that a seizure is coming and how often they fail to indicate an approaching seizure. It is likely that the accuracy of the dog’s predictive skills will vary considerably for different patients and different dogs.
Public and press interest in seizure-alert dogs has led several commercial groups to begin training and selling dogs for this purpose. In many cases, the cost exceeds $2000. There is little information on the quality of the different services and the ability of different breeds. Some services are training dogs to protect their owners in the case of a seizure. This could be dangerous if the dog prevents emergency medical services or other assistance to an individual during a seizure that is prolonged or associated with injury.
Seizure dog information and resources
For more information on seizure-alert dogs and/or service dogs in general, you may click on the following links below: