Seizure response dogs: Evaluation of a formal training program

A. Kirton, A. Winter, Elaine C Wirrell, O. C. Snead

22 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evidence supporting seizure-related behaviors in dogs is emerging. The methods of seizure response dog (SRD) training programs are unstudied. A standardized survey was retrospectively applied to graduates of a large SRD program. Subjective changes in quality of life (QOL) parameters were explored. Data were captured on animal characteristics, training methods, response and alerting behaviors, effects on seizure frequency, and accuracy of epilepsy diagnosis. Twenty-two patients (88%) participated (median age = 34, range = 12-66, 73% female). Most had childhood-onset epilepsy (87%) that was refractory with averages of 36 seizures/month and 4.8 medications failed. All had neurologist-confirmed epilepsy, most being symptomatic partial (64%). SRD behaviors were reliable, including emergency response system activation in 27%. All reported SRD-related QOL improvements (major 82%, moderate 18%) across multiple parameters. Spontaneous alerting behavior developed in 59%. That SRD programs may select genuine epilepsy patients, instill valuable assistance skills, and generate meaningful QOL improvements supports further seizure dog research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-504
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2008

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Keywords

  • Epilepsy comorbidity
  • Quality of life
  • Seizure anticipation
  • Seizure dogs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neurology

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