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Seizure Dog Heroes

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Were you aware that there are seizure dog heroes among us? I had not heard of them until recently. It was proven back in the 1980’s that dogs can assist an owner who has epileptic or other types of seizures. These dogs are known as seizure dogs, or sometimes simply as “response” dogs.

First of all, a brief reminder of what epilepsy is: it is a medical condition affecting the nervous system, causing things to go wrong inside the brain, in the form of seizures. Pre-seizure symptoms can include loss of vision, headaches, racing thoughts, and dizziness. When a person experiences seizure, medical experts have recommended that his or her head should be to the side to keep him or her from choking on the tongue, and a stick or spoon be inserted between the teeth to prevent possibly biting off the tongue.

Seizure Dog Heroes

This is why a seizure dog is very important in case something wrong happens to the owner, because he can get human assistance like a guardian in the night.

They help out not only their owner who has epilepsy, but also other epileptic patients that need assistance. Dogs well-trained for the task help out their companion by alerting nearby folks that someone is having a seizure and needs medical attention, and keeps him or her safe from nearby harmful objects. They may also carry their owner’s medical information when going on outside trips in case of emergency, and can get help using a programmed button on the phone next to the owner. Lastly, they wake up their owner (or patient) when the seizure stops.

Here are other ways the seizure dog heroes may help out, according to an article on the Epilepsy Foundation website:

A response dog might be trained to bark when a child has a seizure so that family members know what is happening. Or, a seizure dog may put its body in between the seizing individual and the floor to break the fall at the inception of a seizure. Some seizure dogs may even be trained to activate some kind of pre-programmed device such as a pedal that rings an alarm.

To have an effective seizure dog, it must be quick to learn basic commands, and needs to be a friendly sensitive dog that is not aggressive. Epilepsy is a rare condition that needs love and care, and this is why dogs also have to be delicate about it, especially during the time when seizures occur. Here are some breeds that are cut out for that specific job: Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Mixed breeds with Border Collie Samoyed or Setter lineage.

To be seizure dogs, they must be trained properly with great patience and care. Also take note that not all dogs of a given breed are capable of doing the job, possibly due to their own temperament or trainability. Dogs need to be trained on detecting certain factors like change in the mood, behavior, body odor, as well as physical and emotional changes. And the training for such tasks is not really an easy one.

The first thing that dogs need to know to be seizure dogs is for it to understand basic commands. It should also be well-socialized, meeting other animals and other people, so that it does not get scared or frightened of a person having seizure. There is also a training to improve a dog’s sense of smell, because they can detect a peculiar smell on the human before a seizure.

They also learn how to take away other objects from their owner while having seizures to prevent accidents from happening. Some of them are trained to push emergency buttons, alert people nearby that there is someone having a seizure, and lastly, waking up the patient after the seizure.

And of course, amidst all that training, seizure dogs are also normal dogs that should live a normal life. They also need good dog food, proper exercise, daily walks in the park, vaccinations, medical check-ups, and lots of “TLC”, just like any dog.

Have you heard of these seizure dog heroes before? Feel free to share any experiences with them that you may have had or know of.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar Of Sean Casey Sean Casey says:

    Although your article is interesting part of the “brief reminder of what epilepsy is” dates well back before the 1980’s. Medical experts (now) recommended NEVER PUT ANYTHINIG INTO THE MOUTH of a person having a seizure, for any reason. Ref: epilepsyfoundation.org/aboutepilepsy/firstaid/index.cfm

    When providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic-clonic seizures, these are the key things to remember:
    • Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
    • Don’t hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
    • Time the seizure with your watch.
    • Clear the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
    • Loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
    • Put something flat and soft, like a folded jacket, under the head.
    • Turn him or her gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear. Do not try to force the mouth open with any hard implement or with fingers. It is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Efforts to hold the tongue down can cause injury.
    • Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
    • Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally.
    • Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
    • Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home by himself.

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