A New Option for Seizure Control in DogsDoes your dog have seizures, and is their control the best it could be?A New Option for Seizure Control in Dogs This article looks at new ways to monitor the effectiveness of treatment and improve seizure control for a better quality of life.

An Ideal World

 In 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 Compromise

Finding 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 Control

 At 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?
 The answers help the vet decide if the medication is providing sufficient control. But did you spot the problem: Who’s watching the dog when you’re asleep or out at work? The vet runs blood tests, so surely that fills in the gaps?Actually no.A New Option for Seizure Control in Dogs Mostly the blood tests check if there are side effects from the medications and if the drug dose falls outside the recommended level, and is either so high as to be toxic or so low as to be ineffective. Blood tests give the vet the wriggle room to make dose adjustments, but little more than that.  Life goes on, and you can’t watch the dog 24/7/365, so what’s the answer?

Continual Reliable Accurate Data

 In 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 Control

 Modern 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?
And
  • If yes, what’s the lowest effective dose?
 This is where monitoring makes a difference.  

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
 Did you notice the importance of having relevant information? When at work, would you know if your dog had a mild or severe seizure? Or how long the seizure lasted? The answers to these questions matters. For example, that ruffled bedding might be due to a seizure last 30 seconds or five minutes. Whereas the former is not too worrying, the latter risks brain damage and a dose adjustment may be required. Also, if your dog has clusters of seizures (lots of seizures within 24 – 48 hours), this influences which drugs the dog is given. Rather than increasing the dose of the main anti-convulsant, it may be more appropriate to add in a short-term medication to ride out this bumpy period.A New Option for Seizure Control in Dogs

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.)
 This data is downloadable as an accurate record of your dog’s vital signs.  When a dog has a seizure, lots of things happen. Before the seizure, he may be restless and pace. Then when the fit happens, there’s unusual muscular activity, his heart and breathing rates increase, and his temperature rises. All of this shows up on the PetPace track.  Also, PetPace is clever. It recognizes when data is outside of what’s normal for that dog, and sends an alert to your smartphone. This gives you peace of mind that all is well, or alternatively, you can pop home at lunchtime to give the extra medication the vet prescribed for clusters.  You can share the data with your vet. This allows them to see exactly how long the seizures last, if they are single or clusters, and how frequently they happen. All of which takes the guesswork out of knowing how effective seizure control is.

Food for Thought

 Few things stay the same, including seizures.  The body can ‘get used’ to medication, making it less effective over time. Equally, sometimes seizures can stop, as mysteriously as they started.  Having accurate information is empowering. Modern drug therapy is only as good as finding the correct dose for each individual. PetPace is the tool that may help the vet do just that.