Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Epilepsy is a group of brain disorders and is the fourth most common neurological disease in the U.S, just behind Alzheimer’s, migraines, and strokes. The unique nerve cell activity in the brain defines epilepsy, causing seizures. Seizures deeply affect a person’s life and often prevents them from living a fulfilling life. Fortunately, a seizure alert dog can predict an upcoming episode and warn its handler to take immediate precautions. How exactly a seizure alert dog jumps into action, we’ll discuss below.

How Seizures Can Harm People

Seizures have a wide range of symptoms: Some people may display mild shaking; others might twitch their extremities uncontrollably. Others stare blankly during an attack. Although the symptoms may be mild, they can cause significant problems if they are in the middle of an activity like driving, swimming, or working with heavy equipment.

During a seizure, people can injure themselves and cause accidents due to loss of control. And although most episodes end on their own without problems, a small percentage of seizure attacks end with injury or lasting brain damage. In extreme cases, it may even lead to life-threatening emergencies or death. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, people diagnosed with epilepsy are 1.6 to 3 times at a higher risk of dying than those without the disorder. About 1 out of 3 people who have epilepsy have to find ways to live with uncontrolled seizures because no medications are known to treat their condition. 

How Seizure Alert Dogs Can Help

Because seizures can have significant repercussions, it’s essential to be aware of when one is starting. When there’s an advanced warning, an individual can prepare for its onset and take precautions. This is where seizure alert dogs, a specific type of service dog, can make a vital difference. About fifteen percent of dogs can predict seizures 10 to 20 minutes before they occur. This crucial window of time gives individuals the opportunity to find a safe environment, obtain medical help, or take medications. 

How seizure alert dogs detect impending seizures remains unconfirmed. However, research indicates that dogs may be able to predict a seizure by two methods—changes in scent and the identification of specific motor changes in the individual. 

A 2019 article published in Scientific Reports found that the accuracy rate for seizure alert dogs is very high, from 67 to 100 percent. As the body changes its processes, it emits distinct odors through the bloodstream, breath, sweat, and urine. Dogs, with their highly sensitive sense of smell, can detect biological changes in humans. It’s also thought that dogs can spot small motor differences in humans before a seizure, like pupillary changes or slight tremors.

How exactly a seizure alert dog can detect upcoming attacks is unknown, but it’s an instinct given to about 15% of canines. A Seizure Alert Dog’s Natural Ability 

Unlike guide dogs and mobility support dogs, seizure detection is a task that dogs can’t train to perform. Because scientists still don’t know the exact method seizure alert dogs use to detect seizures, training dogs to do so reliably isn’t possible. Dogs who can predict a seizure do so naturally

Some trainers attempt to “teach” dogs to detect a seizure using the sweat emitted by a seizure patient. Unfortunately, this method of training is misguided. Dogs must spot the signs that occur before a seizure event, not during or after. Teaching a dog how to detect an oncoming seizure using such a method may result in low success rates. 

Seizure Response Dogs Vs Seizure Alert Dog

Seizure response dogs are often mistaken for seizure alert dogs, but they are not the same.

Seizure response dogs assist an individual during and after a seizure, but they don’t predict one. These dogs can assist by placing the person in a position that helps them breathe better. These dogs can also get help, guide the person to a preset safe location, or help them regain their balance. 

Because supporting people through and after seizures is crucial, service dogs that can detect seizures are often also trained to be seizure response dogs. When dogs perform both tasks, as seizure alert and a seizure response dog, they are called “seizure dogs.”

Becoming a Seizure Alert Dog

Interestingly, service dogs who received training as seizure response dogs may develop the ability to perform seizure detection. This innate ability may form after six months working as an individual’s seizure response dog. Perhaps repeated exposure to the seizure experience fosters the natural ability to detect seizures in many response dogs. 

Seizure alert dogs are an example of how much humans still don’t know about canine abilities. Though dogs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years as our domesticated best friends, we have yet to uncover all the ways dogs can help humans. From helping serve as psychiatric service dogs to detecting seizures, canines are tremendous assets to humans. 

Once you have a fully trained service dog that can detect seizures, registering or certifying your service dog is an optional step. Registrations, certifications and ID cards are helpful accessories service dog owners use for day to day life.

However, no third party can demand these items as a condition to accepting a service dog. They also do not act in lieu of proper verification. To verify someone has a seizure alert dog, third parties are allowed to ask two questions under ADA rules: 1. Is the dog required because of a disability? and 2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Almost 40% of U.S. households own a dog, and an average of $253 is spent each year on veterinary costs to keep family dogs in good health. This love for dogs isn’t surprising because dogs have been intertwined with human life for the last 11 000 years. Dogs are human’s oldest companions, hunting alongside us and saving our lives for millennia. Today, dogs don’t serve as our hunting partners as much as they used to, but they still work to assist us in other ways. And among the most hard-working dogs are trained service dogs. Below we’ll list the five different types of service dogs that may be at your service.

What Are Service Dogs

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is a dog that receives special training to execute a task that a person with a disability would not be able to do for themselves. For example, service dogs can guide vision impaired people, detect impending seizures, or obtain life-saving medication during an emergency. Service dogs are much more than a pet or a therapy animal. They quite literally work to save our lives.

Five Types of Service Dogs Cardiac Service Dogs Mobility Service Dogs Allergy Detection Service Dogs Psychiatric Service Dogs Guide Dogs 1. Cardiac Service Dogs

Through the sense of smell, trained cardiac service dogs can recognize dangerous changes in a person’s heart rate or blood pressure. They alert people with heart problems to take immediate interventions far quicker than people can identify the changes themselves. Although they can’t perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), cardiac service dogs can receive training to notify emergency services. They can also obtain life-saving medication if their owner becomes disoriented or unconscious. 

2. Mobility Service Dogs

Mobily service dogs do more than fetch items for their owners; they can help their owners navigate the world without falling or hurting themselves. Trained to assist people who struggle with mobility issues (like difficulty walking, paralysis, or prone to falling), mobility service dogs specifically assist their handlers’ needs. 

A mobility service dog can receive training to perform various tasks, like picking up dropped items, removing small obstacles from a person’s path, or act as a brace for people with balance problems. Mobility service dogs also receive training to obtain objects for their handler, keeping their handler sitting and minimizing the chances of their handler falling. When used as a brace, mobility service dogs tend to be large-sized breeds because they must be large enough to bear at least a portion of their owner’s weight. 

Service dogs come in different types and sizes to specifically assist with the owner’s physical or mental disorder. 3. Allergy Detection Service Dogs

Allergen detection service dogs use their keen sense of smell to save human lives. If enough of an allergen is present, an allergen detection service dog can recognize the scent and alert its handler to the danger. For example, a person with a severe peanut allergy might be served a piece of cake without peanuts but cut with a knife previously used to cut a peanut-containing dessert. An allergen detection service dog can spot the smell of a peanut, even if it’s weak, and alert its owner it’st its presence.

It is important to note that allergen detection service dogs aren’t on the lookout for substances but odors. If a substance is present but has no odor, the service dog may not identify the allergen. 

4. Psychiatric Service Dogs

Psychiatric service dogs are not emotional support animals or therapy dogs. These are legitimate service dogs and perform a specific task to alleviate their handler’s psychiatric disorder. Psychiatric service dogs are trained to sense a change in their owner and provide an intervention that assists their handler with their emotions. Psychiatric service dogs also receive training to identify triggers that can increase their handler’s agitation or anger and steer their handler away from such situations. 

People who suffer from auditory or visual hallucinations can also benefit from a psychiatric service dog. The dog can obtain training to help identify if a third individual is present or is a mere hallucination. Psychiatric service dogs can also guide their handler home or to safety if the owner becomes confused. A psychiatric disorder can be frightening; therefore, psychiatric service dogs provide a layer of support and assistance at all times. 

Examples of psychiatric service dog tasks. Wonder if your emotional disorder qualifies for a psychiatric service dog? Get an assessment by a licensed health professional. 5. Guide Dogs

Service dogs for the visually impaired, or guide dogs, are the most well-known type of service dogs. It’s relatively easy to spot this type of service dog because they wear a special harness that distributes pressure in a specific way, enabling a guide dog’s handler and the dog to communicate with each other quickly. For example, crossing a busy, noisy street can be exceptionally dangerous for the vision impaired. A guide dog with a harness allows the dog to pull and tell its handler when to proceed and stop.

Unlike most other service dogs, guide dogs are trained for “intelligent disobedience,” meaning that they can go against or ignore their handler’s instructions if the situation is dangerous. They receive training to identify hazards or conditions that can jeopardize safety. 

A Service Dog For All Needs

Service dogs can assist owners in overcoming any physical or mental disability. However, choosing the right dog for the job is paramount to a service dog’s successful training. But whatever your needs may be, any one of the different types of service dogs can help you live a more fulfilled and happy life.

Florida’s tropical climate and sunny skies are a canine’s dream home. With its fun-filled beaches, green wilderness, and vast areas to run in, the Sunshine State offers pet-lovers plenty of outdoor activity options to share with their dogs. Florida ranks consistently on the top 10 pet-friendly states lists, proving how accepting Florida is of furry friends. And if you need a service dog, Florida not only has excellent service dog training options but also provides protections for service dog handlers. 

What is a Service Dog?

If you’re diagnosed with a disability and have a task that a service dog could perform for you, you may benefit from a service dog. First, meet with your healthcare provider to evaluate your current needs. The task a service dog performs is typically an activity the person with a disability does daily or is done for safety. Unlike therapy dogs and emotional support animals, service dogs receive extensive training to complete their required tasks. 

Federal Protection for Service Dogs 

Because they’re an essential part of their handler’s well-being, a service dog is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This federal law allows service dogs to accompany their handlers in all areas accessible to the public, even in places where pets cannot go; these include hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, and medical centers. 

Service dogs are also protected under the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) laws. The FHA requires landlords and housing managers to admit service animals into their rentals without charging pet fees. The ACAA also obligates airlines to accept service dogs onto their flights, with no additional pet fees or pet restrictions. These federal laws protect service dogs and not pets. Why? Because service dogs aren’t pets! 

Getting a Service Dog in Florida

If you and your healthcare provider have decided what tasks a service dog can help you with, it’s time to determine how you want to go about finding a service dog. 

Here are the four common paths to getting a service dog: 

Buy a fully-trained service dog.  Find a dog and train it yourself.  Find a dog and outsource the more complex training. Train the dog the basic skills yourself.   Buy the dog yourself, but outsource all the training to a professional.

The first option is to purchase a trained service dog. Although this choice comes with the highest price tag, it saves time on training your service dog. The second and third options involve some time to train the dog yourself. Training is typically the most labor and time-intensive aspect of getting a service dog. For some owners, outsourcing all the training can be the most cost-effective and least time-consuming path to owning a service dog. 

If you’re looking to train your own service dog, you’ll need to find a suitable service dog candidate. Take into consideration that the dog you choose must be capable of physically performing the required task. For example, a Chihuahua would be too small to serve as a mobility service dog to brace falls. Keep your safety — and your dog’s safety — in mind! Additionally, look for dogs that are calm, eager-to-please, and easy to train. 

Scouting for Your Service Dog Candidate 

Here are a few places in Florida that may have the ideal service dog candidate for you:

S.A.F.E. Pet Rescue, Inc.

Located in Northeast Florida, S.A.F.E. Pet Rescue, Inc. rescues dogs and cats, placing them into loving homes. Because their dogs are fostered and socialized, they’re adoption-ready and willing to be trained. 

Ayla’s Acres

Ayla’s Acres is a no-kill pet rescue located in St. Augustine. Their 45-acre pet sanctuary (which includes farm animals) allows rescued pets the freedom and space to heal and socialize. 

Training Your Service Dog in Florida

Once you’ve obtained your service dog candidate, it’s time to start training. These training schools may be helpful:

Mind Your Manners Canine Training

Mind Your Manners Canine Training is an award-winning dog training and behavior modification school in the city of Kathleen. Their training plans cater to every dog and dog owner, changing to fit their needs. Mind Your Manners offers service dog training, along with other basic obedience skills.

Southeastern Guide Dogs

Southeastern Guide Dogs offer service dogs and training at no cost, though an application and a wait time are required. Run by volunteers, Southeastern Guide Dogs also provides free psychiatric service dogs to veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Service Dog Training Law in Florida

If you need further proof that Florida is a service dog-friendly state, you’ll be happy to find that Florida state law covers service dogs beyond federal regulations. For instance, Florida Statute Chapter 413.08 covers dog trainers when training service dogs in public. 

Lastly, Florida Statute Chapter 413.081 protects the health and safety of service dogs by making the intimidation or harm of a service dog open to state penalties.