• Dogs can detect epileptic seizures up to 45 minutes before they occur. We didn't know how until recently, when French researchers teamed up with Medical Mutts, a US-based organisation that trains seizure alert dogs.
  • In a recent study in Scientific Reports, the researchers reveal that dogs can detect seizures through smell. In some cases, the pooches were 100% accurate in picking up the odour of a seizure.
  • That's thanks to the incredible canine nose, which can sniff out odour molecules in the parts per trillion.
  • For more stories, visit Business Insider South Africa.

Dogs can detect epileptic seizures up to 45 minutes before they occur, thanks to their incredible noses, new research shows.

A canine nose can smell odour molecules in the parts per trillion. Scientists now believe that man’s best friend can detect the smells a human body releases during a seizure.

We've long known that dogs can detect seizures in humans in some cases 45 minutes before they occur. We didn't know how until recently, when French researchers teamed up with Medical Mutts, a US-based organization that trains seizure alert dogs.

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That's one reason why organisations like Handi'chiens in France provide service dogs for people with epilepsy. And in some cases, this can prove lifesaving.

In 2018, they set up an experiment. First, they collected dozen of samples of breath and sweat from people with different forms of epilepsy. Some of them were taken during or right after a seizure, while others were collected after exercise or at rest.

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Then they distributed them among seven different steel containers and they let in the dogs.

Three of the dogs, Casey, Dodger, and Zoey, sniffed out the odour associated with seizure with 100% accuracy.

What makes these results even more remarkable is that the scent samples were from different people and also produced by different kinds of seizures.

Here's the thing: we still don't know what the marker is.  It's likely that seizures trigger a change in the body's electrical activity, the researchers say. And those changes can affect the composition of odor molecules that we emit through our sweat, breath, and, likely, urine.

But some experts claim that people emit a specific group of odour chemicals 15 to 45 minutes prior to seizing, which dogs can detect.

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