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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Dogs trained to warn of seizure

17th October 2006

People with epilepsy could soon use special response dogs to warn of an oncoming seizure as part of a new programme.

The dogs would bark to warn of an imminent seizure and help during the seizure under a programme by UCB, the global biopharmaceuticals group, which makes one of the top anti-epilepsy treatments, Keppra.

UCB sponsors the training of seizure-response dogs at a cost of $18,000 per animal. The training is carried out by Canine Assistants, a US not-for-profit organisation that trains dogs to assist people with disabilities.

Under the programme Labradors and golden retrievers are taught to look after the person when they have a seizure, by a range of methods, including lying over the patient to keep them stable, or even go to the phone. Some are able to warn of an oncoming attack by barking or licking their owners’ hand. In the US there are more than 200 people on the waiting list for one of the seizure-response dogs.

Around one in 130 people has epilepsy in the UK. Although there are a number of charities that train dogs for the disabled in Britain, only Support Dogs specialises in seizure-alert dogs that can predict an epileptic fit between 15 and 50 minutes before it occurs.

Epilepsy groups responded that the dogs could also provide an important defence against attack for people with the condition.

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