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Case Study: Using PitPat to help monitor seizures

Disclaimer: Using a PitPat does not replace the need for a vet – please always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or wellbeing.

Olive was our very first dog, neither of us had owned a dog before. We did a lot of research before bringing her home as a cute 8-week-old doodle puppy. Everything about Olive developed normally. Her toilet training came on in leaps and bounds, she took to her crate immediately and she was picking up new tricks like “sit” and “down” so quickly. As far as we were concerned, she was a healthy, happy puppy.

Olive’s illness

At approximately 16 weeks old, Olive had her first seizure. It took us totally by surprise as there was absolutely no warning. She initially had a blood test at our local vets, which came back clear. We were advised to monitor and return if she has another one. We spent the next few weeks racking our brains trying to work out what could have caused the seizure – we did a lot of internet research!

Unfortunately, Olive then proceeded to have a series of seizures (what’s called a cluster) and didn’t recover well between them. She ended up being referred to a neurology specialist (thank goodness for insurance) and underwent a multitude of tests (blood test, x-ray, mri and spinal tap).

Olive’s brain scans came back indicating the cause of her seizures. She has something called Cortical Dysplasia which means half of her brain didn’t develop correctly in the womb. It isn’t a hereditary condition and it isn’t caused by environmental factors, it’s just a really, really, unlucky mutation.

Her brain condition means that Olive has structural epilepsy. It is a condition that Olive will have for the rest of her life and will be continually managed by medication.

Using PitPat to help monitor Olive’s seizures

This is where the PitPat steps in. We had planned to train Olive to run alongside us if we went out for runs and I bought a PitPat thinking it would be quite fun to also track how much exercise Olive did also. We all have running watches, so why couldn’t Olive have something similar? It’s important to note that I bought the PitPat before we knew about Olives condition and I had no idea how useful it would become.

Unfortunately, we cannot be around Olive 100% of the time, especially at night as Olive sleeps in her crate downstairs. But by having the PitPat device on Olive all the time, we can see if there appears to be any unusual activity whilst she’s been by herself.

We have slowly managed to work out what different seizure types look like on the PitPat activity graph. An important factor to point out is that if Olive has one seizure, she is likely to have another one unless we intervene. So, by us being able to spot seizure activity by using the PitPat we can be prepared for more seizures. Sometimes we come down in the morning and Olive is not her usual self, instinct kicks in and we usually know that its due to a seizure but her PitPat activity helps to confirm this.

Image One – A seizure occurred at around 4am, as highlighted. This is typically signified by the large peak (the seizure) followed by a period of restlessness.
Image Two – A seizure free night. There are bumps that occur as Olive moves around to make herself comfortable, but these are noticeably different from the bumps in image one.

Another handy function of the PitPat app is the ability to track the weight of your dog. This has been really important also as all of Olive’s medication is weight dependent, but as a growing dog, her weight is constantly changing. We keep a detailed diary of Olive’s seizures and by being able to look back at her weight, it gives us a good indication of whether this could have been a factor in the seizure happening.

We are really keen to promote the use of the PitPat device for help in seizure tracking, it’s been a great tool for us to ensure we provide Olive with the best care possible. And we wanted to share this with other owners of epileptic dogs in the hope of making their lives a little bit easier too!             

Using PitPat for fun as well!                                                    

Of course, we also use the PitPat device to track Olive’s activity and that’s the fun part. You can set yourself activity goals and get rewards when you meet them. So far, our greatest achievement is to have walked the distance between Land’s End and John O’Groats which 874 miles!

Light brown Cockapoo wearing a PitPat
The face Olive pulls when she meets her PitPat goals for the day!

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