What is a seizure dog?
A seizure dog is a dog that has been trained (or has learned) to respond to a seizure in someone who has epilepsy.
Is “seizure dog” the official name?
It is the name that is most often used. Some people distinguish between dogs that respond to someone who is having a seizure (seizure response dog) and dogs that appear to know when a seizure is going to occur (seizure predicting dog).
What do seizure dogs do?
- Some dogs have been trained to bark or otherwise alert families when a child has a seizure while playing outside or in another room.
- Some dogs learn to lie next to someone having a seizure to prevent injury.
- Some dogs learn to put their body between the seizing individual and the floor to break the fall at the start of a seizure.
- Some dogs are trained to activate some kind of pre-programmed device, such as a pedal that rings an alarm.
- Seizure dogs do not take the place of medical advice for night time supervision or other physician directed monitoring. There is no evidence that seizure dogs reduce the risk of SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy).
Public interest in seizure assistance dogs has fueled demand for dogs with these skills.
How can someone get a seizure dog?
It depends what your goals are. If you are looking for a seizure response dog, you can discuss what you want the dog to do and work out a plan with a trainer.
However, getting a dog with the special skill of recognizing seizures in advance is another matter. Any claims by trainers that they can produce this type of behavior in a dog should be looked at very carefully, especially when the training is expensive. While some people report success, others have been disappointed.
More research is needed to better understand what dogs can and cannot do, whether there are differences between breeds, and how best to develop this unique skill.