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Seizure alerting behaviour in dogs owned by people experiencing seizures

Martinez-Caja, A; De Herdt, V; Brandl, U; Boon, P; Cock, HR; Gomez, J; Perucca, E; Thadani, V; Moons, CPH (2019) Seizure alerting behaviour in dogs owned by people experiencing seizures. Epilepsy and Behavior. ISSN 1525-5050 (In Press)
SGUL Authors: Cock, Hannah Rutherford

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Introduction: The unpredictability of epileptic seizures is considered an important threat to the quality of life of a person with epilepsy. Currently, however, there are no tools for seizure prediction that can be applied to the domestic setting. Although the information about seizure alert dogs – dogs that display changes in behaviour before a seizure that are interpreted by the owner as an alert – is mostly anecdotal, living with an alerting dog (AD) has been reported to improve quality of life of the owner by reducing the stress originating from the unpredictability of epileptic seizures and, sometimes, diminishing the seizure frequency. Aim of the study: To investigate, at an international level, the behaviours displayed by trained and untrained dogs that are able to anticipate seizures and to identify patient- and dog related factors associated with the presence or absence of alerting behaviour. Methodology: An online questionnaire for dog owners with seizures was designed. Information about the participants (demographics, seizure type, presence of pre-ictal symptoms) and their dogs (demographics, behaviour around the time of seizures) was collected. In addition, two validated scales were included to measure the human-dog relationship (Monash Dog-Owner Relationship) and five different traits of the dogs’ personality (Monash Canine Personality Questionnaire Refined). Results: 227 responses of people experiencing seizures were received from six participant countries: 132 from people with dogs that had started alerting spontaneously, 10 from owners of trained AD, the rest from owners of dogs that did not display any alerting behaviour (NAD). Individuals' gender, age or seizure type did not predict the presence of alerting behaviour in their dogs. People who indicated that they experience pre-ictal symptoms were more likely to have a spontaneously AD. The owner-dog bond was significantly higher with ADs compared with NADs and ADs scored significantly higher than NADs in the personality traits “Amicability”, “Motivation” and “Training focus”. Conclusion: This study collected a large group of dog owners with seizures reporting behavioural changes in their dogs before their seizures occurred. This was associated with the presence of pre-ictal symptoms. The seizure alerting behaviour of the dog may have a positive influence on the bond between the owner and the dog.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Keywords: 1103 Clinical Sciences, Neurology & Neurosurgery
SGUL Research Institute / Research Centre: Academic Structure > Institute of Medical & Biomedical Education (IMBE)
Academic Structure > Institute of Medical & Biomedical Education (IMBE) > Centre for Clinical Education (INMECE )
Journal or Publication Title: Epilepsy and Behavior
ISSN: 1525-5050
2 February 2019Accepted
Publisher License: Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0

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