Posted on October 31st, 2012
Happy Halloween from Clear the Air!
We always like to encourage families adopt animals from shelters and we especially encourage the adoption of black animals because believe it or not, they are usually the last to get adopted.
We would like to share an article from the ASPCA regarding the truth about black cats.
Have you heard the myth that black cats are unsafe in October, in part because witches may try to adopt them for rituals? We sure have. But guess what? Top ASPCA experts agree that it’s just not true.
Unfortunately, the truth is kinda scary, too: Year-round, black cats are the least likely to get adopted in shelters across the U.S. In fact, black animals in general take more time to find homes, says Gail Buchwald, Senior Vice President of the Adoption Center.
At the ASPCA, we LOVE black kitties. (Some of our friendliest cats, like Marissa, are black—yet Marissa has waited more than nine months to find a family. What’s up with that?)
Aside from the most important reason to adopt black kitties—that they really need extra help finding homes—here are a few reasons to take home one or two:
- Their fur won’t show on your little black dress.
- You can tell your kids you adopted a mini panther.
- Black cats go with everything.
- In most cultures, black cats are a sign of good luck.
- You already know black cats are awesome—you have one at home! If you’ve got a great black kitty, tell us about him or her in the comments. You just might persuade someone else to give these felines a little extra attention.
Posted on October 22nd, 2012
Here at Earth Care Products our staff consists of many valuable employees. Today we would like to tell you about Isis and Zimba.
Isis is a rescued standard poodle, she of course has all the brains of operation. Zimba is a 110# Rhodesian Ridgeback, and he is our office clown. Recently we attended Pest World and sent them to be boarded by Dane Lightfoot. Dane takes his charges out for various activities several times a week. In the picture you can see Zimba is going horseback riding among many other various outtings. Dane takes pride in what he does and when we picked up Isis and Zimba, he kindly sent this wonderful write up Z and some suggestions on where he can improve.
Zimba is a very intelligent and teachable dog. He responds quickly to voice commands and he has a strong desire to please. He does not have very much self-control and is underdevelopled emotionally. He needs extra help to mature properly and he needs to be discouraged from acting like a clown. When a dog does not feel the weight of family responsibility they create their own set of responsibilities and many dogs like Zimba choose the role of class clown because it is entertaining and at first everyone is laughs at first.
Continuing to Grow
Zimba must be offered challenges and they must be varied and have an element of uncertainty in the outcome. You must also train your reactions to reward him emotionally for good thoughts and behavior. He must also be exposed to the world around him on a larger scale so that he has a new place to try new reactions because it is much easier to get a dog to start acting differently when they are in an unusual environment. He must also be given a chance to make mistakes; they are where real growth happens.
- Emotional Challenges – Zimba’s primary means of dealing with a problem is silliness and clowning around. He is very large so when he bounces around he can break things or hurt people and the more he reacts this way the more difficult it becomes to build the self-control to stop and think. At the same time he must be offered constructive opportunities to have the type of fun that he enjoys like wrestling with Isis.
- Social Stimulation- He must have time with other dogs and people so that he can develop the social skills he needs to meet new friends. He is not an overly active or overly driven dog but he feels the lack of social time very intensely and it is a source of pent up emotion.
- Enforcing Rules- Dogs do not feel the same way people do about rules. For people rules can be a constriction, a limitation to our actions. For dogs rules are the structure by which they mold their behavior and adept communication of the rules is the primary guideline for their understanding their responsibilities. Everyone in the house must provide a single, clear message about what is expected of him
Untrustworthy Behavior When Unsupervised
Just like children, immature dogs follow the rules because they believe that you will punish them if they do not. In order to make the transition to behaving even when you are not around they must build character and maturity. Maturity comes from being challenged and character comes from failing at those challenges and having a healthy attitude about it. Zimba must be given tasks that push the limits of his abilities and he must be allowed to fail sometimes. Intelligence toys are one good way to provide this type of growth as well as training him for obedience. Many people have very busy schedules and find difficulty setting aside time for obedience lessons but they can be worked into every-day life. If you are sitting at the desk doing work, have him lay beside you. It is not difficult but he should not be allowed to get up until you do. Alternately when you are doing chores around the house make him walk at a heel, the simple exercise of you controlling his thoughts and actions will build his self-control, his maturity and his respect for you, it is also enjoyable for him and very rewarding.
When Zimba is out on a walk he faces different challenges than other dogs, most dogs will not want to meet and greet a dog his size. He is intimidating in both his size and posture, the only way that he will be able to overcome this is to be encouraged to ignore other dogs walking entirely. In order to accomplish this you must be in control of the walk by doing the following things.
- Do not let him walk out in front of you, this puts him in a command position and forces him to make decisions for you.
- Do not let him stop every time he wants to sniff something. If you want him to potty, then tell him so and let him sniff around, but you must make the decision about where and when to stop.
- When you do encounter another dog, keep him beside you and encourage him to ignore the other dog completely. In the beginning you are going to have to tell people that he is in training and is not allowed to meet any new friends right now and as he progresses and can ignore the other dogs properly then he may begin to meet others. You must always greet the other dog before he does though. He must see how you react to the dog so that he has a guideline.
- Do not ever leave his leash taut, this is what creates the idea of being restrained in the dogs mind. Keep the leash slack and only use short, sharp tugs to stop him from doing something you don’t want. Remember that every leash message should be accompanied by a verbal message to reinforce that you are trying to tell him something not just pulling on the leash because you like it. He must also be told that he is good when he is walking politely. The greater the disparity in your attitude between his good behavior and his bad behavior, the more quickly he will learn and understand what you are asking for.
Zimba is a good dog that has a very high desire to please but he has too little self-control. He will be a happier dog when he understands how to really make people happy and how to build healthy relationships with new friends both dog and human. He will also enjoy the greater level of freedom that he would be allowed if he were more reliable. Encourage him to behave the way that everyone would like at all times and he will quickly understand what you want from him.
Dane is really unique in his care and entertaining of the dogs. He can be reached at 760 500 5284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on September 28th, 2012
We love seeing success stories from the San Diego Humane Society. This one is special, as this kitty is blind. Check out Joey’s story below.
Joey – The Sweetest Cat
When Joey was just a baby, I was fortunate to be able to help foster him. He was a spunky tuxedo kitten (and quite photogenic!). I was planning to adopt him, but for reasons beyond my control, he went to another home. I was devastated.
A year-and-a-half later, Joey was back at the San Diego Humane Society, up for adoption, but now he was blind. Thanks to the wonderful staff at the Humane Society, I was finally able to adopt Joey, who is now at his forever home. Joey has Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), a rare genetic form of blindness, and is now completely blind. But most people don’t even notice unless they pay close attention. He has memorized the house and moves around without hesitation (as long as I don’t rearrange the furniture!). He is an indoor-only cat for obvious reasons, but he plays with his two sisters, my dogs Wiley and Daisy. Joey and Daisy share my lap and nap together every evening. (Interestingly, Wiley also has PRA, and is also blind, and loves to play fetch!)
Both Joey and Wiley have really opened my eyes (no pun intended!) to just how adaptable animals with challenges can be. They are the sweetest pets I have ever owned and are no more difficult to care for than sighted animals. They see the eye doctor once a year, and I have to be careful when walking Wiley to make sure she doesn’t injure her eyes, but other than that, they are normal, loving pets. Joey has brought so much love into my life.
I am so grateful to the San Diego Humane Society for making my family complete!
- Nancy Baisch, MD
Posted on September 19th, 2012
Check out one of the latest Pets of the Month at the San Diego Humane Society! This guy, Unger, has a special story and is an employee pick.
Rebecca S., an Adoptions Counselor at the San Diego Humane Society Central Campus, simply adores Unger and his goofy & lovable personality. She was first drawn to the 2-year old Pit Bull Terrier when she saw his remarkably good spirits during his recovery from a leg amputation surgery. His spunk and sweetness was an inspiration. “Unger only has 3 legs, but he never lets it hold him back!” shares Rebecca. In addition to his happy-go-lucky nature and zest for life, this playful pooch loves to cuddle; offering yet another reason that Rebecca thinks Unger is simply the best. As Rebecca puts it, ”Unger is a 60 lb., 3-legged lapdog who is ALWAYS willing to cuddle. What could be more awesome than that?!”
Doing his happy wiggle dance, enjoying a toy, and playing fetch are all beloved activities of Unger’s… But even greater is his love for people. Now, all he wants is to find some people of his very own who would let him be a part of their family and share his abundance of love with them daily!
If you are interested in meeting this happy guy, come on down to the San Diego Humane Society Gaines Campus for an introduction! Or, please feel free to call Customer Service at (619) 299-7012 if you’d like some more information.
Let’s work together to get Unger a new forever home!
Posted on June 29th, 2012
Nothing is stronger than a positive testimonial about a business’s product.
We thought we’d compile a bunch of our testimonials so you can see the various odors Clear the Air will successfully eliminate!
Testimonial on Cat Urine Odor:
The product is amazing. I have tried so many other products and companies. I recently spent over $300 for someone to clean the carpets and use a secret “proprietary” formula that didn’t work. We have five cats, and if one is sick or has an accident, the others will quickly follow suit. Right now, with the product working on a couple of areas, there is no odor in the house. That is just amazing.
Thank you, Lynn
Testimonial on Doggie Odor in the basement:
No THANK YOU! This stuff is amazing! It saved me a bundle by not having to replace the basement carpet because of the strong “doggie” odor. Now it’s like there never was a dog in my new home. Thanks so much for making this available. I’ve already recmmended it to several friends.
Testimonial on Dead Animal Odor:
We’ve spent the weekend trying to eliminate a “dead animal” smell from our upstairs bedroom in our three year old home (something got into the walls and died). My little doxie Milo alerted me to the problem and has been going crazy, sniffing and trying to show me that there is something in there.
We tried everything – vinegar, baking soda, ionizer, etc; nothing helped and the 90 plus degree heat today made it really awful! I was ready to call a disaster restoration service or critter control to address the odor.
In desperation, we searched the web and found Clear the Air information; we took your advice to go to Petco and make our own bags. I made two bags from nylon hose and hung them around the closet and room. It’s only been a few hours and the difference is already unbelievable! Even Milo isn’t interested in sniffing it out anymore. I anticipate that tomorrow will be even better.
What a great product – we will definitely use Clear the Air for the garage, dog crate, etc. –hopefully we won’t run into any more dead critters in our walls.
Sincerely, Lynne P. in Valencia, PA
Testimonial on Vacuum use:
LOVE your stuff! The pellets! A “bonus” is when you vaccuum them up, they stay in the vaccuum and I no longer smell the dog everytime I vaccuum! When dumping filter, I NEVER dump the pellets! Vacuuming is now not a “smelly” job.
Testimonial on Dead Rodent Odor:
I wanted to write to you to say how impressed I am with your products.
I had a terrible rodent infestation in an entire side of my house. We had had a pest service come in to rid the house of pests, and I had also been mitigating all points of entry rodents were taking advantage of as they came out of the cold from the surrounding forest, and build nests for the winter. I discovered the location of the nest by the odor of what smelled like old garbage coming from my 4 year old son’s bedroom wall and also an overpowering smell of urine coming from the basement play room directly underneath his room. After identifying the location of the smell, I completed demolition on a 20 foot by 15 foot area of the exterior wall of my house. As I had suspected, there was significant rodent damage.
The condition of the wall was horrific: the insulation was all eaten away, and there were enormous rodent nests. The worst part was there was so much feces and urine that combined with the contents of the nest, insects and bio-matter from decayed rodents, it had all permeated the sheathing, sheetrock, studs, joists, and concrete foundation from the second floor all the way to the sill plate and foundation.
After clearing out all the debris, and pounds of rodent feces and desiccated remains in the basement ceiling, I spent an entire week, after removing all the exterior sheathing of the effected wall, and leaving the wall exposed to the outside drying out the studs, and cleaning it with industrial grade, scented disinfectant. After replacing the sheathing that was rotting from the urine, and treating everything I could, multiple times, with disinfectant, I discovered that after sealing it all up I still had a phantom smell of the nest and urine. It wasn’t as bad, but it was obviously the same smell, especially when there was an increase in humidity and the house was closed up, especially my son’s room.
Out of desperation I began searching the Internet for answers. I came across Earth Care products when I typed in “how to get rid of dead rodent stink”, and was encouraged when I saw that your products were non-toxic, especially having three kids all 5 and under.
I bought three bags and placed them in the large basement room where the urine smell was the most overwhelming. In just one day the smell had decreased by at least half. The second day the small was almost impossible to discern. By the third day there was no trace. It was incredible! What was so amazing was that they didn’t need to come in contact with the effected area, just be near it. That was key, since I had already sealed it up.
This product is amazing. Despite having done my best to improve the air quality of my home, apart from burning the house down and starting over, I have a significant peace of mind knowing my children are not breathing that wretched air from a rodent’s nest. I am ordering more bags for the rest of the house. Thank you, is all I can say. I would be delighted to provide a testimony for the efficacy of your product. I am a grateful and passionate client!
JasonCute Pets, Facts, Great Stories, Product Use, Reviews, Testimonial, Where to purchase? ammonia, animals, cat, cat urine, cat urine odor eliminator, cats, dead animal, dead mice, dead rat odor, dog, dog run, dog urine, doggie odor, dogs, earth care, health, kittens, litter box, odor, odor eliminator, odor remover, Pest Control, pests, pets, small animals, smelly vacuum, urine
Posted on June 25th, 2012
Great article we came across from ABC News about saving money on pet related expenses. Check it out:
Caring for a pet can be a big expense, with owners spending between $600 and $3,000 a year depending on the breed and budget.
Josh Elledge from the Savings Angel.com has some advice to help save on pet-related expenses.
Veterinary care can be one of the largest expenses with medications for everything from fleas to heartworm to more specific medications for your pet’s ailments. It is possible to purchase medications through online pharmacies and save yourself a good deal of money. While critics may warn about the dangers of buying medications online, this is a particularly important option for families who might not otherwise be able to afford the medications their pet needs.
There are only 16 online pharmacies that are registered with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This association reviews the pharmacy’s practices to ensure they are compliant with all proper requirements.
While not completely fail-safe, experts I’ve listened to urge owners who wish to buy medications online to make sure they are doing business only with these sites. You can find the list atnabp.net
One option that might be a possibility is to ask your vet if she or he will match the pricing of an Internet retailer. Our vet has given us a nominal discount or recommended a rebate that was otherwise unknown when we’ve asked.
The second area that you can possibly save yourself a good deal of money is pet food. There are many options available for feeding your pet. Some owners opt for economy varieties. Economy varieties include Alpo, Beneful, Hill’s Science Diet, Kibbles ‘n Bits, and Purina. There are manufacturer coupons aplenty, which can add to the savings. In our database at SavingsAngel.com, we regularly see these brands for 50-70% off retail prices. Getting deals like this involve timing your purchase and applying a high-value coupon at the same time.
Obviously, these brands are inexpensive by comparison, but can contain a large amount of filler like wheat, corn and soy. It’s important that you review the labels and talk to your vet to discuss your pet’s needs. You can also choose premium brands like Iams, Eukanuba, and some varieties of Hill’s Science Diet. Large corporations own all these brands now (Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive). This is helpful from the standpoint in that coupons are available for budget-minded shoppers. Iams and Hill’s, for example, recently published a $3 coupon that can make for some very good savings. Hill’s is also offering a $12.99 rebate on selected varieties.
When purchasing, make sure to read the label. There are four things you want to look for:
1. The guaranteed analysis. (How much fat & protein in the food.
2. The nutritional adequacy statement
3. The ingredients (avoid foods with too much filler.)
4. The feeding guidelines
One website that you might find very useful in choosing a pet food dogfoodadvisor.com. This website is also very helpful in tracking pet food recalls. Sadly, recalls of pet food are fairly common.
If you own a larger breed dog, you may find that more expensive varieties are outside your budget (unless you are using your coupons!) This makes it very important to talk to your vet to talk about what ingredients to look for. Your vet may also be able to give you some ideas regarding supplementing your dog’s nutrition.
The price of boarding can vary wildly depending on the quality of the care. If you want to get a great deal on boarding, the best deals on good boarding facilities will be found on the daily deal sites (Groupon, etc…). With some careful watching, you’re bound to find a deal eventually – though the deals tend to be geared more for short term stays.
Don’t be afraid to competitively shop the pet resorts – and ask if one location will match or beat the price of another – particularly if you are boarding for a longer period of time. Vacancy means lost revenue and pet boarding facilities are a business like any other who desire to stay busy. The best deals of all on pet care are going to come from exchanging pet sitting – or hiring a pet-loving tween. You can also ask for recommendations for reliable pet sitters at your local animal shelter or pet store. Pet sitters can charge a fraction of a pricey pet resort.
Forget hiring the dog whisperer unless you have special needs. The Internet is FILLED with step by step instructions and video examples of how to train your pooch to do all the tricks you like – or overcome any naughty puppy behavior. A training class is helpful for socialization – but after your puppy is old enough, make sure the dog park and walks in dog occupied areas are part of your regular routine.
Pet insurance is usually not a good investment. “It’s common to pay $300 a year or more for pet insurance. Over the life of a dog or cat that might be $5,000 or more. Most people are not going to spend that kind of money on covered pet health care.
For its August 2011 issue, Consumer Reports compared of nine pet policies for Roxy, a healthy 10-year-old beagle who lives near the magazine’s office in Yonkers, N.Y. Roxy’s lifetime vet bills have totaled $7,026 (in current dollars). In every case, the total premiums that would have been paid to those insurance companies were higher than Roxy’s medical bills. It makes more sense to put a couple of hundred dollars into a household emergency fund each year for serious pet health issues.
Posted on June 21st, 2012
Such a great story about our military men and three little kittens they found. Check out this story from LoveMeow.com.
It all began when Eric Hanst and his fellow sailors were Navy deployed overseas. When they were in port for a few days, they were greeted by an unexpected guest. “A cat came aboard via mooring line. We lost track of her, and found her later that evening. We managed to get her back to the pier, and waved goodbye as we took off. This cat seemed unusually upset by this,” said Hanst.
What they did not know was that the cat didn’t just come alone. “It turns out, when she managed to sneak on board, she also managed to smuggle on three kittens. We thought she had given birth on the ship, but it was pointed out to us that they were too big to be only a few days old.”
When they were sailing off, no one on board was aware of the kittens. The little ones were very confused, looking for their mom for almost four days until they were discovered in the machine shop. “We found one initially and the other two a couple hours afterwards,” Hanst added.
Even though the crew had little experience bottle feeding a kitten, they all jumped into action, doing everything they could to help these little creatures. They did not have a bottle, so they improvised. They found boxes and necessary things to make a temporary nest for the kittens. They were all so proud, holding their new furry buddies and letting them climb all over them. When it comes to bottle feeding the kittens, these sailors showed remarkable love and care to the tiny little creatures that were about the size of their palm. They were gentle to the kittens and tended to their every whim.
“After the initial shock of being found, and feeding, the kittens were just as happy and playful as any other cute little bugger you’d find anywhere else. They were a great boost to crew morale, and I LOVED THEM,” said Hanst.
After they docked, the kittens were transported to local veterinary services. “We managed to find homes for all three kittens. I talked a friend into adopting one of the kittens, the other two were taken in by my a ‘cat couple’ who are regular rescuers.”
The soldiers rescued the kittens and the kittens gave them the companionship and love they needed during these long voyages. They both needed one another and it was a blessing that they found each other.
Posted on May 22nd, 2012
Clear the Air is so happy to share another wonderful testimonial from a fully satisfied customer! Dawn-Marie volunteers much of her time and money to ensure puppies are found their forever home!
Check out what she had to say about Clear the Air!
My name is Dawn-Marie Ennis and I am the puppy mom for all wee ones that come through Second Chance Pet Adoptions in Raleigh, NC. Of course fostering the puppies means a lot of accidents, on our carpets and concrete floors. I have just recently found your product, and am THRILLED at how well it works! Trust me, I really have tried everything on the market!
At first I was able to locate canisters of Clear the Air at my local pet supply stores, but I seem to have bought up every single one here in the Triangle area. Because we are a donation based rescue, I spend my own money on cleaning supplies which gets expensive.
I have been singing your praises and highly recommend your product to people who are adopting a puppy and also let all our foster parents know just how wonderfully it works. The thing I love the most, that it is a dry product, and that is what intrigues most everyone I tell. We all HATE the wet carpet feeling all other products have. Puppies will go where they smell others have gone before them, and after 8 litters of 5 puppies or more lets just say my puppy room had a not so fresh feeling. Which was making it very difficult for me to house train my current litter of 5 English Bull Dog mixed little boys. And that breed is not known for having good sniffers. It took just one 28 oz canister to demolish the stink in the wall to wall carpet. After that, my husband and I did a different room in our home every night. We are in love with the results! Our house smells less like dogs and cats, and more like fresh spring air.
So thank you, to the inventors, and everyone else involved in the making of Clear the Air! It truly is the best thing out there for odor control.
You can check out Second Chance Pet Adoptions website at: www.secondchancenc.org
Posted on May 18th, 2012
The San Diego Humane Society is looking for volunteers!
Calling all Warm Hearts and Homes! The San Diego Humane Society cares for thousands of animals annually and many of them get a head start in foster care.
Animals that are candidates for their Foster Program include animals less than eight weeks of age; mothers with litters; animals with minor medical needs; animals recovering from surgery or illness; and animals that need further behavior evaluation or socialization. The San Diego Humane Society is looking for applicants with big hearts and a special commitment to provide a warm and loving environment for the animals in need. The San Diego Humane Society provides any supplies, special medication or food needed. All the animal needs, is you!
Foster is the temporary removal of an animal from, in this case, the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, to care for it until the animal is ready to be placed up for adoption.
Temporary shelter in a volunteer’s home can make all the difference to an animal that needs a little extra care to be ready for adoption. Cats and dogs with litters, animals under 8 weeks of age, and animals with minor, treatable illnesses are given a second chance at life through the work of our Foster Care Volunteers. The foster volunteers also grant The San Diego Humane Society the opportunity to free up more kennels for more animals that are in need of immediate care.
The San Diego Humane Society provides all the necessary training, supplies, and support the foster family will need to care for their foster animals, including food, bowls, bedding, toys, litter, medication, and any veterinary services.
Even if you aren’t in the San Diego area, you can also volunteer or foster at your local humane society. Volunteering is a great way to spend time with animals if you can’t have them in your home.
Posted on April 25th, 2012
Dog’s noses are amazing, so much in fact they are able to detect individual scent molecules among thousands; molecules so small that they elude hi-tech sensory equipment.
Dog’s noses are used to rescue people, discover drugs, uncover agricultural contraband, sniff out bombs and detect landmines.
What about disease? There has been evidence that dogs may be able to give early warning signs of cancer and the onset of epileptic seizures. In spite of a lot of hype, however, the evidence is far from conclusive. Researchers have made some progress but the jury is still out on whether dogs will assume a new role in the field of medicine.
Check out some of these scenarios we got from Petplace.com.
Sniffing Out Cancer
In 1989, a woman went to see her doctor about a mole in her left leg. The mole had been there for quite a few months, but she paid it little interest. Her dog, on the other hand, soon became obsessed with it.
At first, the dog – a cross between a border collie and a Doberman – constantly sniffed or licked at the mole, even through clothing. He eventually tried to bite it off, according to the Lancet, a highly respected British medical journal. The 44-year-old woman decided it was time to get this thing checked out. The mole turned out to be malignant melanoma, a life-threatening form of skin cancer, and it was quickly removed. Her dog, by bringing it to her attention, had saved the woman’s life.
Intrigued with persistent reports of such phenomena, Florida dermatologist Armand Cognetta decided to investigate possible medical uses. In 1996, Cognetta borrowed a 7-year-old schnauzer named George, a recently retired bomb-sniffing canine, and asked for help from a veteran dog trainer. The goal was to see if George (who had an uncanny sense of smell, even for a dog) could consistently sniff out melanoma, in both tissue samples and in people.
Normally, a handheld microscope is used to diagnose potential skin cancer, followed by a biopsy. The microscope is about 80 percent effective in early diagnosis, which is why further tests are usually conducted to confirm the diagnosis.
After many hours of training, the gray schnauzer scored nearly 100 percent on identifying melanoma tissue samples. Cognetta then allowed George to “examine” actual patients. He discovered melanoma in four (possibly five, depending on how you look at the results) of seven patients. Cognetta wrote that the results were interesting but far from conclusive. A much larger, more controlled study is necessary to determine if dogs can be trained to reliably detect cancer.
However, if they do have the ability to detect disease, don’t expect dogs in medical practices any time soon. The cost to train a dog would be astronomical – $35,000 per dog, with 1,200 hours of training. That costs way more than even an MRI exam. A biopsy would be necessary in any case, because doctors would never base an opinion on a single diagnosis.
The real promise is to discover how dogs are able to do it, and then build a machine to mimic the skill. Studies are underway in seven institutions across the globe to find out why some dogs have this amazing ability.
Dogs also have been reported to be able to detect the onset of epileptic seizures, sometimes 20 minutes prior to an attack. The benefit of this is obvious: a person can be forewarned to find a safe place or get help before being incapacitated.
Unfortunately, in spite of the many anecdotal reports of “seizure alert dogs,” there is no scientific evidence or documented proof that dogs can be reliably trained to detect the onset of a seizure. The seizure itself is a symptom, not a specific disease. Seizures can occur for a variety of reasons, one of which is epilepsy. Regardless of the cause, the electrical activity in the brain is temporarily disrupted during a seizure. Seizures can be hardly noticeable, or they can be incapacitating.
The Epilepsy Institute has been unsuccessful in its attempts to study whether dogs can reliably predict seizures. The institute used EEG machines and video cameras to monitor epileptics with their dogs. Limited funding did not permit 24-hour monitoring, and during the monitoring no seizures took place.
But finding evidence of this ability would only be a first step. Training a dog to recognize and respond appropriately is the greater challenge. If dogs have this ability, there is no way to know if a dog can be trained with this skill.
“There is no guarantee that a dog, if he can detect a seizure, will do so 10 out of 10 times,” explained Beth Rivard, executive director of a nationally recognized service dog program. Rivard heads up the Prison Pet Partnership Program, at Washington Corrections Center for Women, in Washington.
Beginning in 1981, the program has been teaching inmates to care for and train service dogs, which are then placed with recipients suffering from a number of disorders, including epilepsy. When a seizure begins, dogs are trained to stay with the person, and to get a phone or medication if directed to do so. They also know to get help, and may even know to try to roll a person onto his side to prevent choking.
But Rivard said there’s no way to train a dog to detect when a seizure is imminent. “It would be a great thing if they can do it, but how do you prove it every time,” she said. If a dog senses a chemical change prior to a seizure – which they may – the odor would have to be replicated to train the dog to react the right way, every time. That may be difficult because seizures are electrical disturbances within the brain.
The Epilepsy Institute recommends against getting a dog for the purpose of predicting seizures, and does not recommend any trainers for this purpose. After conducting interviews, the institute concluded that despite the publicity, few people have actually reported that their pets have this ability. Half of those who said their pets did show some ability were more likely to identify behavior during or after a seizure – and not before.
However, the institute noted that enough reports sound authentic enough to warrant more scientific research.
The institute is pursuing funding to conduct more extensive research, and has developed a pet profile questionnaire to collect data on the subject. After filling out the form, individuals will be interviewed by phone to the likelihood that their pet can detect seizures prior to human awareness.