Cardiac Alert Service Dog

Not every dog can become a Cardiac Alert Service Dog and that is why queues for this type of service dog can be very long and the waiting lists may be updated by training schools on a biannual basis. We are not sure how dogs can detect heart problems yet. Some trainers suspect that is possible due to the dog’s keen senses of smell and hearing combined with their attunement to their loved humans. You may have heard of Diabetic Alert Dogs that are used to manage low and high blood glucose levels and some believe that Cardiac Alert Service Dogs might detect subtle changes in the chemicals released with our breath prior to a heart attack or a similar problem.

How does a Cardiac Alert Service work?

It is generally agreed that a combination of signals like our rate of breath, the chemicals released with our breath, and chemicals naturally released from our body enable Cardiac Alert Service Dogs to alert of high and low heart rate. The dogs can be trained to alert their user through nudging with their muzzle or barking. The training can be extended and the dogs can be taught to seek help by pressing a specially made button that would trigger a call for an ambulance or call a family member/dedicated medical worker. A Cardiac Alert Service Dog can stay with you while you lie down in case you have a low heart rate and provide emotional support when you are vulnerable. Another service that these dogs can provide is to carry essential medicine, a card with your emergency contacts, and other small items that could be important for stabilizing your condition and informing your family and doctor of your state. Some users may include a GPS tracking device so they can be found more easily in case of an emergency.

I must make the distinction that Cardiac Alert Dogs are different from Cardiac Response Dogs. The first type is able to detect heart problems and notify you which can then be followed by one or two tasks depending on how well your dog is trained. These tasks can include calling your family, your doctor or calling an ambulance to your location, or bringing medication to you. Cardiac Response Dogs on the other hand can not detect heart problems but they can help you recover, stay safe and wait for help. The Cardiac Response Dogs can bring you medicine, call for help using a specially made button at home, or bark so they can attract attention from passersby.

What can I expect?

Cardiac Alert Service Dogs can contribute to your independence, make you feel protected and safe when you are your most vulnerable. These dogs have been proven to be angels on paws for people who live with heart problems and have trouble monitoring their heart rate. Caring for a Cardiac Alert Service Dog will keep you active and help boost your health, mood and make it easier to go about your daily tasks.

How to choose a service dog candidate for training?

Training a dog to become a Cardiac Alert Service Dog is possible when the dog naturally exhibits the ability to detect heart problems. This is rare in dogs and that is why there are training schools that work with a pool of breeders who specialize in breeding naturally gifted dogs for this type of work. If your pet dog has been showing signs of concern, barking, and seeking your attention prior to you experiencing a heart problem that could be an indication that your dog can detect heart problems. Dog breeds we have seen to provide stellar performance in this type of work include, but are not limited to: Golden Retrievers, Poodles, Pomeranians, Beagles, and Labrador Retrievers.