Moving forward in my journey to learn more about Animal Assisted Therapy I was eager to learn more specifically about Seizure dogs and I have been always curious if they many of them do actually possess the ability to sense when a seizure is about to occur. Its clear that this is a somewhat controversial topic as many clinicians and researchers do not believe that these animals are truly able to detect seizures.
In my quest I decided to go straight to one of the leading sources of information on the subject, the Epilepsy Foundation. They have very valuable information about the differences between Seizure Alert Vs. Seizure Response dogs. According to the Epilepsy Foundation:
Seizure Alert Dogs– “Dogs that can recognize and warn of an impending and ongoing seizure.”
Seizure Response Dogs- “Dogs that remain with the person to assist with the aftermath of seizure Activity.”
The evidence research findings are fairly mixed with some scientists arguing that the dogs help to ease the stress of the patients, which in turn helps to decrease the frequency of seizures being triggered by stressful situations.
One of the most valuable statements I found on the Epilepsy Foundation’s site was the comment by Dr. Gregory Krauss, a professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Gregory Krauss: “Seizure assist dogs provide companionship and emotional support for some patients with epilepsy. However, there is, as of yet, no objective evidence that dogs can reliably predict seizures and be used to help patients by anticipating seizures.”
Overall my thoughts are… if there is evidence to support this or no, who cares. It is clear that these animals provide benefits to the patient at minimum to help reduce seizure activity. If there is even a POSSIBILITY of them being able to detect and oncoming seizure or respond to one to protect the patient, this is a treatment method worth exploring. Animal Assisted Therapy and Seizure Service dogs to the rescue!
For a better visual of what these dogs can accutally doI found some pretty interesting videos as well. Check it out. These animals are so fantastic.