7 things to know about Seizure-Alert Dogs

7 things to know about Siezure-alert dogs

Not too long ago, I posted an article https://weirdmindwarrior.com/mental-health-benefits-of-owning-a-dog/ about the positive effects dogs have on mental health but what about seizure-alert dogs and how they help people with epilepsy?

As an 8-year-old I had my first Grand Mal seizure. Nowadays they call it a Tonic-Clonic seizure. Most times my seizures occurred at night as a kid. My adopted Alaskan/lab dog Smokey, who slept downstairs could sense my seizures before they started to happen and would howl to alarm everyone in the house.

From my childhood on I had the idea dogs could sense seizures, but Smokey wasn’t a trained seizure-alert dog. In this article, we are going to go over information about seizure-alert dogs and how they help with epilepsy.

Are Seizure-Alert Dogs Real

Before getting into the training and how dogs can help with epilepsy let’s get into some information on what we know about how dogs detect seizures and how dependable they are.

study seizure-alert dogs Fact or Fiction

In the 1998 study seizure-alert dogs Fact or Fiction. They point out that trained seizure-alert dogs were able to warn their owners in a period of 15 to 45 minutes ahead of a seizure. Also in the study, they say being warned of seizures by the seizure-alert dogs made it, so that some seizure patients had seizures less frequently.

study Cannie detection of volatile organic compounds unique to human epileptic seizures

Speed up to 2023 and in the study Cannie detection of volatile organic compounds unique to human epileptic seizures the dogs identified the unique scent presence before 78.7% of all seizures captured at a probability of 82.2% of positive detection of predicting a seizure. They do point out that more studies need to be done to help get more details and to support the information they collected.

Seizure-alert dogs actions

With this information, it is good to say that dogs can detect seizures, but what do train seizure-alert dogs do once they detect seizures? On the website https://www.epilepsy.com/recognition/seizure-dogs, they say that there are two types of seizure-alert dogs with more official names. Such as seizure response dogs and seizure prediction dogs. What is the difference?

Seizure response dogs

Seizure response dogs help the individual during or after a seizure by alerting the family of the person having a seizure, activating a call system, or lying next to the person having a seizure to help comfort or protect them while having the seizure.

Seizure Prediction dog

A Seizure prediction dog can have specific behaviors before a person has a seizure to help them prepare for the seizure or have others be alerted of the future seizure. This article was initially published back in April of 2019 before the 2023 Cannie detection study. But again, more studies need to be done to make the information from the 2023 study a more solid discovery.

What are some key things seizure-alert dogs do to help people with epilepsy?

  • Lying next to someone having a seizure helps prevent injuries caused by seizures.
  • To put their bodies between a handler and the floor to help break a fall when a seizure begins.
  • Stay with the person during the seizure for comfort and support as said earlier.
  • To activate a device or alert the family or medical provider of the person having a seizure.

It is to be noticed that not all dogs can do all responses or predict all seizures. It depends on other details of each situation on the full response of a dog to a person having a seizure.

Laws & Regulations

Seizure-alert dogs are protected under federal law to be brought anywhere the patient goes, using any source of transportation, and can live with the owner at any location. When it comes to living in any location there are also emotional support animals to help you mentally. I will post an article about emotional support animals in the future.

The time period of having a Seizure alert dog

Most alert dogs are on duty for around 8-9 years. When a dog is done it can stay with the person as a pet but lose the ability to go anywhere and live anywhere unless they are put as an emotional support animal by a doctor.

(To be warned with emotional support animals you can live at any rental place but there are no regulations on what the landlord can add to your bill for having emotional support. This means a possible bigger front deposit and an added fee to your monthly bill.)

Responsibilities when having a Seizure alert dog

You must also remember that seizure-alert dogs are not normal pets. They come with personal responsibilities too. These responsibilities included feeding, immunizing, and regular vet clinic visits like most pets but also exercise, regular training for the dog, and complete management plans for the dog.

What dogs can be trained as seizure-alert dogs?

Not all dogs can be used and trained as seizure-alert dogs. Training can take up to 2 years from early puppy age before they can be fully trained. It is good to know that not all breeds of dogs can be trained as seizure-alert dogs. The most common dogs that help people with a disability are labs.

Beware it is easier to train response than prediction dogs and not all businesses and non-profit organizations that offer training are reliable. Do your research first and foremost, and watch out for expensive training.


Seizure-alert dogs can be a great resource to help you with your personal health and well-being. But remember any pet especially seizure-alert dogs come with responsibilities.

(This is an informational and personal experience article only and it is best to talk to your neurologist, nurse, or local doctor for more specific information on your diagnosis.)

John is a fellow individual diagnosed with epilepsy. His seizures started at the age of 8. John is also a certified peer recovery specialist in the state of Iowa and has been since 2019. Along with peer certification, John also has done ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training). John used his blog to advocate and share information to support people on their road to recovery, like him, with epilepsy and mental health.

John loves arts, comics (Marvel especially), and the UI Hawkeyes. John lives in a small town with his 2 furry brothers Louie and Mario. (Dogs)

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