22 June 2004

Man's Best Friend and...Personal Neurologist?

The latest issue of the journal Neurology reveals that dogs can detect epileptic seizures 15 minutes before it occurs.

In a study done and published by Dr. Adam Kirton and colleagues of Alberta Children's Hospital in Canada, about 40% of 238 families surveyed who owned a dog said that their dog showed seizure-related behavior, even though none of the dogs were specially trained. Dogs were often observed to lick children who were going to have a seizure. Protective and caring behavior were also noted when the dogs would sit on a toddler to prevent her from standing up prior to a seizure. There was also a case when a dog would push a young girl away from the stairs about 15 minutes before the start of a seizure.

Although the researchers still cannot tell how the dogs can predict a seizure-epileptic attack, they theorize that dogs can pick up on visual cues that a seizure is about to occuror that they may also use their heightened smell sensitivity to sense an impending seizure.

You know, even if you don't have seizures to watch out for, or even if your dog cannot detect one, it is still beneficial to have a dog around. There are studies showing that owning dogs can be therapeutic. They can lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients and speed up recovery from surgery or any illness.

The dog is your best friend, bodyguard, and lately, your doctor.

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