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How to train a Cardiac Alert Dog?

how to train a cardiac alert dog

Medical Response Dogs

Medical Response dogs are dogs that have specialized training to help people suffering from specific physical or mental medical issues. Medical Response dogs have helped humans to recover from pain and suffering since world war I, in which trained service dogs used to help soldiers and patients.

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How are Medical Response Dogs Helpful?

Dogs smelling sense is about a thousand times stronger and more sensitive than a normal human being. Because of this immense power, a dog can detect even a small change in the environment.

 

For example, they can easily detect biological things happening inside a human body like Release of Hormones, Higher and Lower Sugar levels, Symptoms of migraine attacks, Higher or lower Blood pressure, and many more, if a service dog is given proper training.

What is this about?

In this particular article, we will discuss some things about an exceptional type of medical response dog, that is, Cardiac Alert Dogs. We will also discuss how to train them, advantages and disadvantages, and Things to be taken care of.

Cardiac Alert Dogs

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Cardiac Alert Dogs are those Dogs that have been given specialized training to help and protect patients suffering from various cardiac disorders. Cardiac alert dogs can detect symptoms of any heart attack, stroke, or any fatal heart conditions before the patient starts to notice.

What are Cardiac Disorders?

Cardiac Disorders or Cardiovascular Disorders are adverse conditions in which the heart is not functioning correctly, or there is something abnormal in the structural properties of the heart.

These heart conditions can be graded as minor to severe in terms of pain and fatality. Many disorders can disrupt the normal functioning of the heart.

Some of them are:

  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Cardiomyopathy.
  • The problem of abnormal heartbeats, i.e., Arrhythmia
  • Deep vein thrombosis

Is Cardiac Alert Dog helpful?

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A cardiac alert dog is trained to detect abnormalities in a patient’s blood pressure. For example, the dog can detect lower and higher blood pressure inside the patient’s body with its smelling powers. A cardiac alert dog can detect severe or minor attack symptoms before the patient starts to notice them and can alert the patient before any pain or suffering strikes him/her.

Things to keep in Mind before training:

There are few things to consider before starting the training of the dog to become a cardiac alert dog. 

Some of them are:

  • Dogs have a natural ability to detect cardiac problems in human beings because they can smell the hormonal releases and the imbalances in humans.
  • If the candidate dog doesn’t alert the patient when his/her blood pressure drops or gets high, then the dog may not be an ideal candidate for the training.
  • If the candidate dog does alert the patient, then he can be trained to inform the patient more accurately, and the dog can have the training to detect many more symptoms.
  • The dog should be in perfect health
  • The dog must not be suffering from any medical disease or allergies.
  • There should be a good bond between the dog and the owner. Both the owner and the dog should have a good relationship.

How to train a Cardiac Alert Dog?

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To train the dog to be a cardiac alert dog, one should follow the swab technique.
  • *Create saliva swabs of cotton when the patient is healthy and make the dog smell them. 
  • *Create more saliva swabs when the patient feels the blood pressure rising, or any other symptoms like too fast or too slow heartbeat, difficulty in breathing, pain in the chest, pain in the left side of the body, etc. Make him smell them.
  • *Create a comfortable and compact alert technique for your dog to perform whenever he senses the blood pressure rising higher or going down.
  • *Alerts can be of many types like pawning somewhere on the body where the dog can reach, bark loudly, do unusual movements, circle around the patient, etc.
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Advantages and Disadvantages

Though taming a cardiac alert dog is not at all harmful and there are hardly any  drawbacks, however,there are still some things to consider that may be counted as disadvantages.

Advantages of Having a Cardiac Alert Dogs

  • Cardiac alert dogs are beneficial for patients suffering from cardiac disorders.
  • Some of the advantages of taming a Cardiac Alert Dogs are:
  • Cardiac Alert Dogs can detect rising blood pressure or low blood pressure in the patients.
  • Cardiac Alert Dogs can alert the patients about any attack or painful event that is going to happen.
  • Cardiac Alert Dogs can also detect lower or higher sugar, serotonin levels, etc. and can alert for other hormonal changes too.
  • The training increases the trust and bonding between the owner and the dog

Disadvantages of Having a Cardiac Alert Dog

  • After having a cardiac alert dog, the patient might become dependent on the dog’s alerts and may ignore any symptoms occurring to him/her.
  • Cardiac Alert Dogs might give a false warning sign or a false alert sometime. These fake alerts can make the patient scared and over-cautious.
  • Sometimes the dog might fail to give an alert.
  • The training fee for professional training can be quite high.
  • It takes a lot of time to train a cardiac alert dog. 
  • Cardiac alert dogs are beneficial for patients suffering from cardiac disorders.
  • Some of the advantages of taming a Cardiac Alert Dogs are:
  • Cardiac Alert Dogs can detect rising blood pressure or low blood pressure in the patients.
  • Cardiac Alert Dogs can alert the patients about any attack or painful event that is going to happen.
  • Cardiac Alert Dogs can also detect lower or higher sugar, serotonin levels, etc. and can alert for other hormonal changes too.
  • The training increases the trust and bonding between the owner and the dog.

Duration of Training:

  • Training a cardiac alert dog can take from 1 year to 2 years and sometimes more than that. There are several programs out there provided by various organizations and agencies that can train a cardiac alert dog in a few months.
  • Daily practice of about 1-2 hour is needed, and the patient needs to dedicate his/her time to create a bond with the dog and teach him.
  •  So, All in all, Cardiac Alert dogs are beneficial and a lifesaver for the patients who suffer from any minor heart disease to a very severe and fatal one. Training your dog to be a cardiac alert dog is worth a while because someday, maybe that dog saves someone’s life.

To know more about cardiac alert dogs, refer to these videos

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Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_response_dog

https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/diseases-cardiovascular#1

https://k94life.org/about/programs/

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