The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has developed the first app that allows dog owners to monitor and improve the lives of pets that suffer from epilepsy.
Now, the RVC Pet Epilepsy Tracker lets owners map seizure activity and medication requirements on their mobile phone and tablet devices.
The app has been developed in collaboration with the Epilepsy Society, which created a successful app to manage the condition in humans.
It was launched at the start of National Epilepsy Week (May 17-23) and is available for download from Google Play and is coming soon to the Apple Store.
As well as affecting the animals’ lives, canine epilepsy can be an emotional burden for owners. Looking after sick pets including medicating the dogs several times a day, constantly monitoring for drug side effects, and ongoing financial costs.
To help increase owner understanding of the condition the app contains up-to-date veterinary knowledge on managing epilepsy. This includes everything from what the condition is, how it is diagnosed and identifying different seizure types, to practical advice on what to do when a seizure strikes.
It also includes functions such as reminders for each medication prescribed because many dogs require more than one drug to treat their seizures.
The app will also benefit veterinary surgeons as owners can convert their dog’s up-to-date medical history, seizure diary and medication diary into a pdf file and send it directly to their vet. There is also the option of recording detailed information of an episode, including what happened during and after the seizure, how long it lasted and how severe the owner rated it to be.
This will aid vets in better understanding their patient’s condition and whether treatment is effective. The app is also set to revolutionise the understanding of how epilepsy progresses in individual dogs, and patterns of seizure activity, as owners can share their seizure and medication diaries directly with researchers at the RVC, to be stored on an anonymous database.
This will allow long-term studies of seizure activity that researchers have previously been unable to obtain data for, for a large number of dogs.
The app’s content was designed by RVC canine epilepsy research team members Holger Volk and Rowena Packer. Prof Volk, clinical director of the RVC’s small animal referral clinic and specialist in neurology and neurosurgery, said: “I am totally thrilled by us being able to support all the owners of pets with epilepsy out there with this app.
“Being able to objectively monitor your pets’ seizures and having medication reminders will give some control back to owners and improve their quality of life and, most importantly, the life of their pet.”
Co-designer of the app and clinical investigations postdoctoral researcher at the RVC Rowena Packer added: “We hope this app will be a great help to owners, but also to all the vets managing this challenging condition in their practices, who will be able to receive full records of their patients’ seizures, medication and history at the click of a button.
“By offering owners the opportunity to share their records directly with us at RVC, we hope they will feel a part of better understanding canine epilepsy by contributing to future research in this simple way.”