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How do seizure alert dogs predict seizures? © Getty Images

How do seizure alert dogs predict seizures?

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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.


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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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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