Melbourne Veterinary School holds clinical trial for dogs with epilepsy

8 January 2014

The University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic is calling for dogs that have drug resistant epilepsy for a new treatment trial.

Melbourne Veterinary School
Veterinary medicine students at the University of Melbourne Veterinary School

There are about three million dogs in Australia with approximately 100,000 suffering epilepsy, but about 30,000 do not respond to drug treatment.
Dr Matthias Le Chevoir, a lecturer in Veterinary Neurology at the Melbourne Veterinary School said, “Presently the treatment for dog epilepsy involves anticonvulsant medication and just under half also have side effects.”

“Our non-invasive treatment involves holding a commercially available nerve stimulator device against the neck area of the dog. A pilot study showed it is safe for the animal and provided a decrease in seizure frequency and severity when used three times daily. In one case we found a two-minute treatment could provide relief for up to eight hours,” said Dr Le Chevoir.

Nerve stimulators have been used for the last 25 years to treat headaches and drug-resistant seizures in humans and animals. But these stimulators had to be surgically implanted and so were cost prohibitive.

“This novel non-surgical, non-invasive vagal nerve stimulation could be the effective treatment we are looking for. It’s an accessible way to achieve better seizure control, minimize side effects, and consequently improve quality of life for both the dog and its owner,” said the Melbourne Veterinary School lecturer.

This new treatment will provide a valuable option to veterinary practitioners for the treatment for dogs with complicated epilepsy cases.
Melbourne Veterinary School researchers are seeking at least 25 eligible dogs for clinical trials.

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