So-called seizure dogs can be all these things – and more.
Dogs can be trained as service animals for people with seizures, just like they can be trained to serve people with other disabilities. The law protects a person's right to use a service animal in any public place.
What is a seizure dog?
A seizure dog is a dog that has been trained (or has learned) to respond to a seizure in someone who has epilepsy.
Is "seizure dog" the official name?
It is the name that is most often used. Some people distinguish between dogs that respond to someone who is having a seizure (seizure response dog) and dogs that appear to know when a seizure is going to occur (seizure predicting dog).
What do seizure dogs do?
- Some dogs have been trained to bark or otherwise alert families when a child has a seizure while playing outside or in another room.
- Some dogs learn to lie next to someone having a seizure to prevent injury.
- Some dogs learn to put their body between the seizing individual and the floor to break the fall at the start of a seizure.
- Some dogs are trained to activate some kind of pre-programmed device, such as a pedal that rings an alarm.
Public interest in seizure assistance dogs has fueled demand for dogs with these skills.
How can someone get a seizure dog?
It depends what your goals are. If you are looking for a seizure response dog, you can discuss what you want the dog to do and work out a plan with a trainer.
However, getting a dog with the special skill of recognizing seizures in advance is another matter. Any claims by trainers that they can produce this type of behavior in a dog should be looked at very carefully, especially when the training is expensive. While some people report success, others have been disappointed.
More research is needed to better understand what dogs can and cannot do, whether there are differences between breeds, and how best to develop this unique skill.
To find a list of places that train service animals for individuals with seizures, go to Epilepsy & Seizures 24/7 Helpline Resources.
- Use the search box to get a list of resources, or scroll down to "Suggested searches" and click on the link "Seizure Dogs."
- Once you have downloaded the list, contact each organization to find out if they have a training facility that can assist you, how long the wait for an animal is, what any costs may be, or if they have programs to help pay an animal and training.
- For additional assistance, please call our Epilepsy & Seizures 24/7 Helpline anytime at 800-332-1000.
Read the personal story of a boy and his seizure dog.
Spencer calls his seizure dog, Lucia, his best friend. His mother calls Lucia, "an extra set of eyes and ears."
- "How Service Animals May Help People with Epilepsy: 'Magnolia Paws for Compassion' -- a Partnership with 4 Paws for Ability and Eisai -- Highlights Importance of Animal Companionship for Wellness," article: November 6, 2014
- "Seizure Prediction: An Elusive, Yet Important, Goal," article: January 12, 2016
- Learn how the Jeanne A. Carpenter Epilepsy Legal Defense Fund may be able to help if your rights have been violated related to your service dog
- Service Animal Briefs, a resource for attorneys
- Learn about the role of seizure alerts