Seizure Dogs



"They are an alarm system. They are helpers, protectors, and service providers."

Seizure dogs can be all these things – and more.

Dogs can be trained as service animals for people with seizures, just like they can be trained to serve people with other disabilities. The law protects a person's right to use a service animal in any public place.

Learn about the Rights of Individuals with Service Dogs

A seizure dog is a dog that has been trained (or has learned) to respond to a seizure in someone who has epilepsy.

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).

  • Seizure Response Dog: This type of dog is trained to perform specific behaviors during or after a seizure. This might include barking to alert family members when someone is having a seizure or activating a call system. Other dogs may learn to lie next to the person having a seizure to comfort or protect them.
  • Seizure Predicting Dog: This type of dog may demonstrate specific behaviors before a seizure. These behaviors may imply that a seizure alert dog can anticipate a person’s seizures. While it is true that some dogs seem to be able to sense their owner’s seizures before they start, this is rare and more research is needed to understand and verify what is happening.

Most dogs do not have the natural ability or temperament to be a service dog or a seizure dog. There are some anecdotal reports that family pets may learn to respond or alert to seizures before or after they occur. However, there have been no strong scientific studies done that look at EEG (electroencephalogram) changes and the accuracy of a dog’s responses. Many different breeds of dogs can be trained as service dogs, but not all.

Even if a dog cannot predict a seizure, they can provide valuable companionship, support, and emotional benefit. This can be a major benefit to people who have epilepsy or another chronic illness.

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.

Authored By:

Originally published

on Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Reviewed By:

Elaine Kiriakopoulos MD, MSc

on Sunday, April 07, 2019


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