Can dogs anticipate seizures in children with epilepsy?
In this study of 45 families by the Division of Pediatric Neurology, Alberta Children’s Hospital, about 40 percent reported seizure-specific reaction from their dogs, and about 15 percent of the dogs overall showed the ability to anticipate a seizure among the children they lived with. Children in the study ranged in age from 6.8 years to 17.5 years. The most common response behavior was licking, often of the face, followed by decreased motor activity, “protective” behavior without aggression, and whimpering.
Breeds of the seizure-alerting dogs included Golden Retriever, Standard Poodle, German Shepard, Akita, Rough Collie, Rottweiler, Cairn Terrier, Great Pyranees, and a mixed breed.
The study includes some specific examples of alerting behaviors: A Sheltie-Spitz cross would forcibly sit on her toddler and not allow her to stand prior to a drop attack. An Akita would push her young girl away from the stairs 15 minutes before a convulsion.
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