Choosing a Seizure Dog to Assist an Epileptic

A seizure dog aids epileptic patients in numerous ways. Well-trained animals possess the ability to predict when the seizure is about to happen. Since the 1980s, people diagnosed with epilepsy discovered dogs made perfect companions. Not only can they sense an impending seizure, but their training also helps them control the situation. Duties include:

  • Barking to alert family members and others
  • Carrying their owner's medical information during trips outside the home or office
  • Getting help via a programmed button on the phone Lying next to the owner for comfort during the seizure
  • Removing dangerous objects from around their owner
  • Waking their owner when the seizure ends

Understanding Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a condition that affects the nervous system. The brain function misfires causing seizures. Warning signs range from loss of vision and racing thoughts to dizziness and headaches. Eventually, epileptic seizures occur.

During a seizure, it is important that the person's head remains to the side to prevent choking on the tongue. By having a seizure support dog, the seizure dog can bark to alert family members or others that the dog's owner needs assistance.

Breeds that Make Good Seizure Dogs

A good seizure dog quickly learns basic commands such as sit, lay and stay. Seizure dogs must be friendly, loving, sensitive to emotions and non-aggressive. Certain breeds seem predisposed to sensing when an epileptic seizure is about to happen. These breeds include:

  • German Shepherds
  • Golden retrievers
  • Mixed breeds with Border Collie Samoyed or Setter lineage

Training a seizure dog takes time and patience and not every dog is capable. Trainers look for dogs that sense emotional and physical changes, including body odor changes, mood changes and behavioral changes. These dogs then enter a rigorous training process.

Training Process for Seizure Dogs

The first step in training a seizure dog is to make sure it understands basic commands. Basic training also includes socialization with a variety of people and other animals. Because researchers believe dogs sense a change in their owner's body odor before a seizure, training to heighten a dog's sense of smell occurs.

By the time a dog is eighteen months old, a specified training program occurs. Dogs learn to remove objects from around their owner, pushing buttons on a telephone system or medical alert bracelet, barking to alert others and knowing when to attempt to wake their owner up. Dogs begin working with their actual owner before the dog moves into the epileptic person's home.

Caring for your New Pet

Seizure dogs, like any dog, want the love of their owner. They love to go for walks, receive treats and receive their owner's love. Owners of a seizure dog require yearly veterinary care including vaccinations and dental check-ups. With proper care and loving attention, seizure support dogs will live a long, happy life assisting you as needed.