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.