Epilepsy Foundation’s Position on Seizure “Predicting” Dogs
There have been reports in the media about dogs with the uncanny ability to sense seizures before they occur. These reports are mostly anecdotal – that is, they tell of personal experiences. Little research has been done to test the existence of this ability in dogs, but a British study suggests that some dogs have this innate skill and may be trained to use it.
In 1998, Roger Reep, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences at the University of Florida, surveyed 77 people between the ages of 30 and 60 who had epilepsy. The survey asked about their quality of life, medical status, attitudes toward pets, ownership of dogs, and their pets’ behavior prior to and during a seizure. Most of the people responding to the survey had had epilepsy for a long time (average: 25 years); more than half had at least one seizure per month.
Most said they had dogs for companionship. In interviews following the survey, three out of the 31 felt that their dogs seemed to know when they were going to have a seizure (10 percent). Another 28 percent said their dogs stayed with them when they had a seizure.
The Epilepsy Foundation believes much more research is necessary in this field of “seizure predicting” dogs, and cautions consumers to be very wary of any claims or programs that offer to train or provide “seizure predicting” service animals.