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What Are Seizure-Alert Dogs?

Learn about seizure-alert dogs from Steve Wolf, MD and Patty McGoldrick, NP in this Howcast video.


Patty: So, epilepsy dogs are a big buzzword because everybody with epilepsy would really like to have a dog if they like dogs. So epilepsy dogs are dogs that are especially trained to detect oncoming seizures in people with epilepsy. So they're specially trained, they sort of sense an aura or feeling that a seizure is coming on and when they are with a patient with epilepsy, and then they can run and get help, they can go get a caregiver, they can go notify someone or they can notify the person themselves, so that person can go lie down or sit down or be out of harm's way.

Steve: Sometimes, they are called seizure alerting dogs. So, if the patient is starting to have a seizure, he'll start barking and then sort of push the patient to sit down and go onto the ground and sometimes they'll even sit on top of the patient and then bark until somebody comes to deal with that patient who's having a seizure. They're more like, they're not stopping a seizure, they are alerting the neighborhood that this patient's about to have a seizure.

Patty: And these dogs are especially trained. There are a couple of different agencies that train them. They live with the family who trains them for some period of time. I think maybe up to a year and then they go to live with the person that they're going to be caring for and then they are able to sense their seizures.

Steve: So it's basically a dog that bonds with someone who has epilepsy, able to be aware when something is happening that's not usual and will try to put that person into a safe position and a lot somebody else that this person is having a seizure.

Patty: So it's like a big fuzzy seizure alarm that lives with the person with epilepsy. They are hard to get, there in short supply. I know that the agencies that use them, that provide them are always looking for donations and people to train the dogs and they are an excellent thing, especially for kids with epilepsy.

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