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A Helping Paw: How Service Dogs are Helping People with Seizure Disorders

    At 4 Paws for Ability, we specialize in training and placing task-trained service, facility, and hearing ear dogs specifically to support the unique needs of their partner. These dogs focus on tasks including behavior disruption, mobility, tethering, scent and behavioral seizure response, and more.

    Service dogs that assist those with a seizure disorder, like epilepsy, are often referred to as seizure assistance dogs. Seizure assistance dogs are trained to recognize scent changes related to epilepsy – smelling the chemical body changes that occur during, and sometimes even before, an individual may have a seizure – and will bark to alert for help.

    Seizure assistance dogs can also be trained with special skills such as behavior disruption. These dogs recognize emotional and behavioral changes and provide deep pressure therapy and redirection to provide comfort and security. Mobility assistance can also be a beneficial skill for seizure alert dogs. Helping with challenges walking and retrieving items are just a few ways these pups can support the independence of their handler, allowing them to better access the world around them.

    When Jackson was three years old, he was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of child-onset epilepsy that causes daily seizures and global development delays. In 2018, we paired Jackson with Janey. Janey is trained in behavior disruption and will give Jackson “kisses” or jump up on his lap. Hoop-De-Doo (Hoops), also trained at our facility, was added to the family in 2020, and has different skills such as pre-alerting to an oncoming seizure.

    Jackson, Janey and “Hoops” have built a strong bond and enjoy playing together.

    We’re proud to partner with the Epilepsy Foundation and Eisai Inc. on Magnolia Paws for Compassion, a special program which seeks to increase awareness of animal assistance and raise awareness of the many benefits that service, and therapy dogs can provide to those with epilepsy or other seizure disorders.

    To date, the program has helped place 24 service dogs with families of children with seizure disorders. For more information on seizure alert dogs, visit