If your child suffers from a seizure disorder such as epilepsy, then you know how difficult it can be to keep seizures under control and ensure your child has proper help every time they have one. If you already have a dog, then you may suspect that your dog acts differently just before your child has a seizure, but often think you are "just imagining it." However, you are likely not imagining it at all, because many dogs living with people prone to getting seizures have a natural ability to sense when a seizure is about to occur. Other dogs can be trained to detect oncoming seizures in children and adults and even keep their beloved family member safer during the seizure. Read on to learn about two types of seizure dogs and how they can help keep your child safe before and even during seizures.
Two Types of Seizure Dogs and How They Help
There are two main types of seizure dogs: seizure-predicting dogs (also called seizure-alert dogs) and seizure-response dogs. Both are very helpful when you have a child with a seizure disorder, and some dogs can be trained to perform both duties.
As you may suspect by their name, seizure-predicting dogs are trained to notice the signs that your child is about to have a seizure and then alert others in the household when they notice the signs.
Does your child seem to have seizures that come with no warning at all? While seizure-predicting dogs are helpful in all households, they can be extra beneficial for parents of children who don't display signs that a seizure is about to occur. While most people know that a dog's sense of smell is more accurate than a humans, scientists are continually discovering new ways dogs can use their other unique senses to perform tasks that humans cannot with their senses; along with predicting seizures, dogs can even detect many types cancer and alert owners with diabetes that their blood sugar is low.
Once a seizure-predicting dog senses that a child is about to have a seizure, what they do next depends on what they instructed to do during their seizure-dog training. They can simply alert others in the household by barking, use a paw or nose to press a special button to sound an alarm, tug on the clothing of a household member with their mouth, or perform any other helpful activity that alerts you or other adults in the household that your child is about to have a seizure.
While not all seizure-response dogs are also seizure-predicting dogs, most are trained to perform both activities. In addition to sensing the signs that your child is about to have a seizure and then alerting adults in the household, seizure-response dogs then do much more to help your child. Seizure-response training varies, but here are some examples of what a seizure dog will be trained to do once they notice their family member is about to have a seizure or when the seizure occurs when no adult is able to help the child:
- The dog can position itself between the child and the floor if a child is sitting or standing to help keep your child from hitting their head or experiencing other injury from falling.
- It can then roll the seizure victim to their side if they are on their back or stomach to keep them from choking on vomit and keep their airways open.
- The dog can also be trained to clear vomit from your child's mouth gently to further prevent choking.
- If you have a stairway in your house, the dog can be trained to block the stairway when a seizure is imminent to keep your child from climbing up the stairs and then falling during a seizure.
This is not an all-inclusive list of what a seizure-response dog will be trained to do after sensing an upcoming seizure, and if there are specific helpful activities you would like your child's seizure dog to perform after sensing or during a seizure, your seizure-dog trainer can make sure your dog is trained to complete the tasks that will be most helpful for your child.
The good news is that you don't have to add a new canine member to your family to reap the benefits of a seizure dog if you and your child already have a dog you both love. As long as your dog is able to physically perform the tasks you need them to do to assist your child and is mentally alert, you can have a trainer who specializes in seizure dog training work with them to teach them to help your child before and/or during seizures. Your dog may actually be the best candidate to help your child, because they already know your child well and may already know when your child is about to have a seizure. Your dog will be happy to learn what to do next to help the child they love!
For more information on seizure-dog training, check out websites like Seizuredog.co.