Local News

New Device Could Help Control Dog Seizures

Posted February 27, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST

— A new device could bring new hope to dogs who suffer from seizures.

Hobbs, a 6-year-old Irish Setter mix, has seizures several times a month. The medication he takes is not working.

"He really becomes blind and literally tries to climb the walls. [He's] just very agitated and not himself," says Anne Schmidt, Hobbs' neighbor.

It is estimated that 30 percent of dogs who are treated for epilepsy get no relief from medication.

Researchers at the N.C. State Vet School are turning to a high-tech device that is alreadybeing used in humans.

The device is like a pacemaker and is implanted under the skin. Electrodes send impulses to a nerve in the neck for 30 seconds, every five minutes.

"We're turning it on and turning it off and seeing if their seizure frequency changes at all in the period when the device is turned on versus the period when the device is turned off," says Dr. Karen Munana.

In humans, the device reduces the number of seizures for about two-thirds of the patients who try it.

N.C. State researchers hope it will prove to be effective in dogs as well.

"Hopefully it'll be one additional thing that we can use in that percentage of dogs where medications are not working," Munana says.

The two-year study at N.C. State should be completed in a few months. Researchers say that the results look promising.

If the device proves to be effective, it could be available to veterinarians by the summer.