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Owner perception of focal seizures in canine epilepsy
  1. R. M. A. Packer, BSc, PhD,
  2. R. Lucas, BVetMed MRCVS and
  3. H. A. Volk, DVM, PGCAP, PhD, DipECVN, FHEA, MRCVS
  1. Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence: rpacker{at}rvc.ac.uk

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VETS rely upon owner (carer) reports of seizures to initially diagnose epilepsy in their patients and ongoing seizure diaries to assess changes in seizure frequency (and thus treatment outcomes). In addition, clinical trials of antiepileptic therapies often heavily rely upon owner-reported seizure diaries to assess treatment efficacy. As such, accurate reports of seizure frequency are of high importance, with underestimations potentially jeopardising patient quality of life (QoL) due to undertreatment. In human medicine, patient seizure counts have been found to be unreliable, with some seizures going unreported (Hoppe and others 2007). Seizure type is a risk factor for unreported seizures, with focal epileptic seizures recognised and reported significantly less than secondary generalised tonic-clonic epileptic seizures (GS) (Hoppe and others 2007). In people with epilepsy, previous studies have reported that patients failed to document up to 73.2 per cent of focal seizures (Tatum and others 2001, Kerling and others 2006, Hoppe and others 2007).

Focal epileptic seizures (FS) are a common feature in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE), observed in several breeds (Licht and others 2002, Patterson and others 2003). Accurate seizure reporting may be affected by the patient's or carer's perception of a seizure in human medicine, and the owner's perception of a seizure in veterinary medicine. This perception may be influenced by seizure characteristics including seizure type, severity and length. In studies of children with epilepsy, seizures have been described as ‘frightening’ by parents, with uncertainty during the event regarding both their child's survival and the degree of damage resulting from the seizure (Mu 2005). As the ictal signs of an FS may appear less dramatic to carers than GS ictal signs, it is possible that this may reduce carer's perception of their threat to both physical and mental health, and subsequent importance. No information …

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