Other types of seizures
In these days of high tech, high cost medical services, it is refreshing to hear of a new low tech, low cost approach to medical diagnosis. I am referring to the ability of dogs to sniff out and alert people to various medical problems. That dogs are able to detect certain skin cancers has been touted for years. More recently bladder cancer has joined the ranks of dog-detectable medical diseases. Insulin-induced low blood sugar portending seizures is another problem our canine friends can sense, and signal thereby permitting early evasive action. One of my patients saved his diabetic owner more than once by alerting her husband to her plight while she was sleeping. Less well known is the ability of dogs to detect impending epileptic seizures allowing their owners can take appropriate avoidance action. Add to these talents the recently proven ability of dogs to detect lung cancer (with 99% accuracy) and breast cancer (with 88% accuracy) and you have yourself a veritable four-legged laboratory in the form of a Labrador retriever. All studies, and what is known about dogs' sense of smell, point to the fact that dogs can be trained to detect these aberrations by sense of smell. Dogs' sense of smell is so powerful as to be beyond our comprehension because of the rich network of scent-detecting nerve cells in their noses. It has been shown that dogs can smell a person's finger prints on a glass slide 6 weeks later and can smell the difference between identical twins. So, it is hardly surprising that they can smell trace amounts of chemicals known to be released from cancerous tissues or that they can smell chemical changes accompanying seizures. In the old days of veterinary medicine, it was the vet who used his nose to diagnose certain conditions. A dog's ear might smell "yeasty" or her diabetic breath tellingly sweet. Now it is dogs' turn to return the favor and, with the equipment they have at hand (or rather, on face), and with a little help from us, they are likely to excel at it.