IndyVet Blog

Medical Alert Dogs - Part 1

James R. Speiser, DVM, DABVP, CCRT
February 17, 2017

We all know that dogs make fantastic pets and can help to enrich our lives every day, but did you know that many can also be trained to be the difference between life and death? Medical alert dogs have been specially trained to help people identify the onset of a medical condition such as a seizure, or diabetes, and can help their owner safely prevent or handle their condition.

Certain dogs can use their keen sense of smell - up to 10,000 times more powerful than ours - to sense a medical condition in a person and alert their owner to prevent a crisis from occurring. For example, seizure alert dogs can detect a seizure up to a minute or two prior to the seizure and alert their owner to take pre-seizure medication.

Below are some of the ways that a medical alert dog can help their owners:

   Seizure response dogs

  • Can detect an impending seizure up to 30 minutes in advance

  • Summon help

  • Pull dangerous objects away

  • Help steer their conscious owner away from dangerous areas

  • Rouse their unconscious owner

  • Carry important information


   Diabetic alert dogs
  • Give an alert signal during an episode

  • Detect a change in blood sugar levels

  • Rouse a sleeping owner to check their blood sugar


   Medical detection dogs can detect
  • Autoimmune diseases & heart disease

  • Adrenal failure

  • Blood pressure & asthma problems

  • Early stage ovarian cancer

  • Breast cancer & lung cancer


Having advanced knowledge prior to a medical condition occurring allows the animals owner to take appropriate and sometimes life saving action like getting to a safe place, getting needed help, or taking emergency preventative medication.

Frisbee dog


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IndyVet is AAHA Accredited
Donate to IndyVet's AVMF Fund
Fear Free
Care Credit
Cat Friendly Practice
IndyVet is AAHA Accredited

Donate to IndyVet's AVMF Fund

Care Credit

Fear Free

Cat Friendly Practice