While dogs can be fun, cute, furry companions as a household pet, their level of intelligence is often underestimated. With the proper training, any dog can help improve the lives of people who have disabilities or disorders, such as epilepsy. These types of service animals are called “seizure dogs” or “seizure response dogs,” which may perform specific tasks for their owner, such as alerting a caregiver by barking or using their owner’s scent to detect a seizure. Even more advanced training can teach a dog to press an alarm to signal a seizure or fetch medications. Through various organizations, seizure dogs can be provided free of charge. You can also opt to train your own as no certification is needed under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, there is such a great demand for these dogs, and waitlists can sometimes go over five years or more.
Since training a dog to act as a service animal can be quite expensive, many might choose to get an emotional support dog instead. Unfortunately, under the ADA, therapy and emotional support animals are not recognized as service animals. Even if the owner has a disability, the dog is not permitted to go into public spaces.
Although this news may be disheartening, many people with disabilities and mental health issues benefit from emotional support animals, giving them the comfort they need. Studies have shown that your brain releases serotonin and dopamine by simply petting a dog, elevating your mood. In correlation to epilepsy and seizures, these animals may lick or cuddle with their owner after witnessing a seizure, improving mental health and companionship.