Vets from the Small Animal Hospital of the University of Glasgow Veterinary School conducted a survey of their clients who owned dogs with epilepsy. They were trying to understand how the owners of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy felt about their pet’s treatment. The results were reported in an important veterinary journal - the Journal of Small Animal Practice (Chang and others, 2006).
Questionnaires were sent to the owners of 29 dogs with epilepsy that were being treated with either phenobarbital or potassium bromide or both.
The three things that most concerned these owners were:
1. their dog’s quality of life,
2. how frequently seizures occurred and
3. what side effects the drugs had.
The balance between these 3 factors determined the owners’ overall satisfaction with how well their pet’s disease was controlled. In general, owners thought that less than one seizure every three months was adequate seizure control. However nearly half the owners questioned thought that their dogs had a poorer quality of life since becoming epileptic. The reasons for this were: side effects of medication (seven of 12), seizures not well controlled (five of 12) and behavioural changes (three of 12).
Practical considerations of convenience and cost appeared to be less of a concern for owners. Although in this survey owners did not report concern about the cost of seizure management, this group of dogs were not receiving higher cost ‘novel’ therapies. Whilst most owners did not consider the administration of medication a nuisance, nearly two-thirds reported that caring for an epileptic dog had an effect on how they organised their free time.
The preliminary results of a recent study by investigators at the University of Glasgow were presented at the ECVN Congress. This study used an owner questionnaire to look at the quality of life of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy and their owners. Dogs were included in the study if they were diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy between 0.5 and 6 years of age and had had seizures for at least 1 year. Information from 128 dogs was included in the study 97/128 owners rated their dogs quality of life to be 8/10 or higher. Most of the owners in the study were concerned by seizure frequency and severity. More than half of the participants (75/127) felt that their dog’s quality of life was adversely affected by epilepsy.
Around half of owners (54/110) had concerns over side effects of medication but this was a significantly lower percentage than those with concerns surrounding the seizure activity itself. It would appear that seizure frequency has a significant impact on owner’s quality of life as well as that of their pets.
Chang, Y., Mellor D. J. & Anderson T. J. (2006) Idiopathic epilepsy in dogs: owners’ perspectives on management with phenobarbitone and/or potassium bromide JSAP 47, 574–581.
Lord, L. K. & Podel, M. (1999) Owner perception of the care of long-term phenobarbital-treated epileptic dogs. JSAP 40, 11-15
Living with canine idiopathic epilepsy: a questionnaire-based evaluation of quality of life Wessmann A1, Volk HA2, Parkin T1, Ortega M1, Anderson TJ1 1University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, Glasgow, UK; 2Royal Veterinary College, London, UK
Further results will be published here when available.
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