Dogs can smell seizures, study shows
Dogs can pick up the smell of an epileptic seizure, new research has confirmed.
Some people with epilepsy already rely on the animals to alert others when they have a seizure.
But the French study provides the first scientific evidence that dogs can correctly identify the warning signs using their powerful sense of smell.
Dogs have previously been shown to be able to sniff out diseases including breast cancer, lung cancer and diabetes.
In epilepsy, a dog can help by alerting their owner so they can call for help or make sure they are in a safe environment before a seizure occurs -- helping the person to manage their condition and giving them greater confidence and independence. The dog can also alert family members.
Researchers from the University of Rennes trained five dogs to recognise the smell of sweat taken from a patient having a seizure.
The dogs were then given a choice of seven sweat samples taken from other patients while they were either relaxing, exercising or having a seizure.
Two of the dogs identified the seizure sample about two-thirds of the time and the other three were 100% accurate, BBC News reported.
From the first trial, the dogs responded to the 'right' odour and explored it longer than any of the other samples, the authors wrote. "This clearly demonstrates for the first time that there is indeed a seizure-specific odour across individuals and types of seizures."
They added: "The results are extremely clear and constitute a first step towards identifying a seizure-specific odour."
Scientists hope that a detailed chemical analysis will identify the specific compounds involved.
It's thought this could lead to improvements in seizure detection or prediction systems such as "electronic noses" that pick up the precise odour given off during a seizure.
But for now, nothing beats a trained doggy nose.
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