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These Dogs ‘See’ Seizures

4pawsJust as society finally hits a point where they get that kids holding fast to their dog’s leash in a store are not just being disrespectful, here’s a monkey wrench:

The kid might not be blind. Using dogs to catch kids’ seizures is catching on across America, highlighted by a story this week in the Chicago Tribune.

Four-year-old Colin walker’s buddy Donut goes everywhere with him, and its saved his Chicago family from worrying when his epilepsy (a symptom of Dravet syndrome) causes him to become disoriented. His mom, Candace, claims the dog actually senses the seizures before they even happen, barking as much as forty-five minutes in advance to warn the family.

But many dog-training agencies won’t work with kids, and the Epilepsy Foundation and Epilepsy Institute are both loathe to put their stamp of approval on the use of the dogs because the science is slim. A University of Florida study found that just five percent of seizure sufferers in a small study pool of thirty could say their dogs “reliably” warned them of seizures.

Not the best odds. Still, parents like Candace Walker say it works. And there are some groups that have cropped up to train dogs specifically for kids – 4 Paws for Ability trains Seizure Assistance Dogs (who are there to comfort the kids who have seizures . . . basically a buddy during a stressful time) and Seizure Assistance Dogs with facilitated Alert Training (those who they claim can “smell” a seizure coming on).

According to 4 Paws’ Website, “We feel early intervention is important and that very young children who have seizures and/or are medically frail will benefit greatly from the use of a service dog.”

I can’t argue that pets are good for kids with special needs. But would you buy into this kind of science? Even if you heard good things from other parents who have been there?

Image: 4 Paws

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