MAN'S best friend may soon have a new medical role to play. Epilepsy sufferers are often given advance warning of a fit by their pet dogs, according to Andrew Edney, president of the World Small Animals Veterinary Association. Mr Edney has studied 35 dogs and one cat reported by their owners to warn them about an attack, although none of the animals was trained for the job. The animals never seemed to get it wrong - one dog even ignored 'fake' fits.

Mr Edney, quoted in the newspaper General Practitioner, said: 'A dog spends a lot of time watching our actions, so it is relatively easy for it to detect small changes in our behaviour. It may also pick up electrical disturbances or body odour changes.'