How do seizure alert dogs predict seizures? © Getty Images

How do seizure alert dogs predict seizures?

Asked by: Edward Seymour, Hove

Seizure alert dogs are trained to give a consistent signal (such as barking, or jumping up and pawing), anywhere from 5 to 45 minutes before their owner suffers a seizure. The prevailing hypothesis is that the dogs are able to spot subtle behaviour cues, but it’s also possible that they are detecting some unique smell – perhaps a chemical in their owner’s sweat.

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Seizure alert dogs are a controversial topic of research and there is still some scepticism about how accurate their predictions are, never mind what the exact mechanism is. But seizure alert training is still valuable, because untrained dogs find it very stressful when their owner has a seizure, and training a dog to react in some predefined way before or during a seizure is reassuring to them.

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