Can Dogs Predict Seizures?
Last updated: November 2022
I strongly support the use of seizure predicting dogs. The Epilepsy Foundation explains that it takes 6 months to 2 years to fully train 1 of these specialized service animals. And these fury family members can make a big impact in a positive way on a person and their family.1
My personal experience comes from an untrained dog. He instinctively understood how to help me during a seizure. I feel blessed to have had this assistance when I was younger.
The comfort of a dog during seizures
Not too long after I moved to Alaska, I bought the most amazing dog. His name was Chief. Chief was a beautiful, goofy, stubborn, and smart Staffordshire Terrier. I loved him so much. Chief came into my life when he was 3 months old. During the beginning of our life together, my seizures were not controlled. Even without training, when I would come out of a seizure, Chief was always there taking care of me.
One time, I came out of my seizure and Chief had curled his body around my head. I clearly collapsed on the floor during my seizure. There Chief was, curled around my head and licking my hand (that was by my face).
Chief would typically be licking my hand when I came out of my seizure. This is how I knew I was having seizures during the night. Chief would lick my hand and I would wake up and feel "off" like I did when I had a seizure. Before Chief, I never knew when I was having nighttime seizures.
Can dogs predict seizures?
About a year after I added Chief to my family, I researched agencies for training a seizure predicting dog. I was wondering if he would be able to learn how to warn me when I was about to have a seizure. After calling a couple of agencies I learned that a dog cannot be trained to alert a person of an oncoming seizure.
So I think it's a bit misleading to call them "seizure predicting dogs." I think something along the lines of "seizure response dogs" is more appropriate.
Apparently, some dogs can predict seizures naturally, but an agency cannot guarantee this trait from training. Due to this, I never sent Chief to get formal training. The help he naturally gave me was enough for my needs. We were so close, and I know I was blessed to have had a dog who understood my needs as Chief did.
Finding a service dog
I want to make sure that a few resources are available for anyone who is thinking about a seizure dog. The Epilepsy Foundation does have a couple of recommendations for agencies. Below are a few of their recommendations.
- Little Angels Seizure Dogs
- Paws With A Cause
- Canine Assistants
- 4 Paws for Ability
If you are interested in having the assistance, speak with your provider about whether this is a good step for you. Think about calling one of the agencies and talking about how to care for your potential dog. When I spoke with an agency about Chief, I was given a lot of recommendations on how to care for him so he can care for me.
And always remember, you're not alone.
Do you have epilepsy? Or are you caring for someone with epilepsy?
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