An Ideal WorldIn an ideal world, the cause of the seizures is diagnosed and treated. Like taking a thorn out of a paw, when the root cause of the limp is removed the dog gets better. But for many dogs, especially those with epilepsy, no cause is found. For dogs with fits of no identifiable origin, therapy is aimed at control, rather than cure. Thus medication is used to decrease the impact of the seizures, whilst maintaining a good quality of life. Traditionally, this is done with anti-convulsant medications, monitoring, and blood tests to check for drug toxicity. Happily, the newer anticonvulsant medications have fewer side effects, which is great news. But good seizure control depends on finding the right dose or right combination of drugs.
The Real-World CompromiseFinding the most appropariate medical regimen depends in some part on owner observation of the number, frequency, and severity of the fits. Put simply, if the seizures continue, then a dose adjustment or drug change is required. But this way of adjusting treatment is flawed, for one simple reason. People have to sleep and go to work. Therefore, even the most loyal and loving pet parent may not be 100% aware of all their pet’s seizures. A compromise is necessary where people “Do their best under the circumstances.” But now we can do better. Now there’s real hope for improved seizure control using invaluable information gathered by the PetPace collar. Here’s how.
Knowledge Enables Better ControlAt your dog’s medication review the vet asks questions such as:
- When did your dog last have a fit?
- How long did the fit last?
- Do they have more than one that day?
- Was the seizure linked to being asleep or being active?
- How many fits has the dog had since his last review?
Continual Reliable Accurate DataIn people, constant monitoring of vital signs, such as heart rate, breathing, or activity levels, isn’t a new concept. After all, we’re comfortable wearing a Fitbit. What if there was a way to do this for an epileptic dog? Think of the advantages of a constant record of your dog’s heart and respiratory, rate, temperature, position, and activity levels. You could monitor the data on your smartphone. When the dog’s vital signs become abnormal, the device can send you an alert, or even stream the data directly to your vet. How useful would that be? Actually, such a device is key to improved control of your dog’s seizures and long-term health. Here’s why.
The Principles of Seizure ControlModern anti-convulsant medications are highly effective. But all drugs have side effects. Depending on the medication, the side effects range from liver damage to sedation or poor coordination. The aim of seizure control is to reduce the symptoms by at least 50%, whilst maintaining the dog’s quality of life. When prescribing treatment, the vet must first answer two questions:
- Does the dog need medication at all?
- If yes, what’s the lowest effective dose?
Does the Dog Need Medication?Occasional mild seizures, whilst alarming, are unlikely to do long-term harm. Balance this against a daily dose of medication with side effects. For some dogs with mild or very occasional seizures, giving regular daily medication is over the top. Indeed, the side effects, such as extreme drowsiness or incoordination, could be worse than the condition itself. Many vets judge when to start medication based on:
- The gap between seizures: As a general rule, dogs that seizure at least once a month, are started on anticonvulsants
- The severity of the seizures: If dog’s seizures last a long time or are particularly severe, then medication is the way ahead
- If the dog has clusters of seizures: Some dogs have infrequent fits, but when they do happen, have several seizures within a 24 hour period
What is PetPace?PetPace is a comfortable monitoring device the dog wears like a collar. It constantly collects physiological data such as:
- Heart rate
- Number of breaths per minute
- Body temperature
- Activity level
- Dog’s body position (sitting, lying, standing etc.)