The term "medical response dog" refers to a dog that is trained to alert its owner before the owner's medical condition becomes active. Sometimes they are called service dogs, but this general description does not really refer to medical response dogs, which are a specific type of service dog. Such a dog is more than a pet, and some handlers are clear that a medical response dog is not a pet at all. Rather, a medical response dog is not unlike a professional worker.
A medical response dog has had its amazing instincts harnessed and honed through training. Dogs - some more than others - have an incredible ability to sense when a medical crisis or episode is about to occur. Through training, these dogs are able to anticipate an "attack" or episode and warn their owners, which gives the owner (or handler) the time to seek proper help.
What Breed Are Medical Response Dogs?
Interestingly, the breed of dog does not necessarily determine whether or not the dog can be trained to be a medical response dog. There are facilities that breed and train medical response dogs from puppyhood, but other times, medical response dogs are chosen not for their breed but for their temperament (and some breeds have a temperament more conducive to medical response training, but again, not necessarily). Characteristics that indicate a good medical response dog are:
* Stamina and endurance
* Even temper
* Good health
What Kind of Medical Conditions Can Dogs Respond To?
Medical conditions "covered" by medical response dogs are actually rather broad. Here are some of the more common medical conditions that medical response dogs can sense.
* Diabetes - A medical response dog can sense when blood sugar is getting a bit too high or too low, giving the diabetic time to take proper measures such as ingesting sugar or taking insulin.
* Epilepsy - Sometimes, medical response dogs are called "seizure dogs." This is because seizure disorders are one of the most common conditions wherein medical response dogs are employed. The dog is trained to sense when a seizure is about to happen, whether it's due to epilepsy or another disorder. Then the epileptic can alert medical professionals or take other measures to handle the pending seizure.
* Syncope - This refers to fainting, and for individuals who have "fainting spells" the results could be disastrous or even deadly (such as when driving). A medical response dog "knows" when syncope is going to occur before the patient does, preventing a potential hazard.
Medical response dogs also can help their handlers deal with the pending crisis in direct ways that go beyond an alert. They can bring their handler a telephone, or be trained to fetch medication and bring it to the patient.