People: Sarah Hobbs, Joe Fenn, Rowena Packer

Epilepsy is the most common chronic neurological disease in dogs, and in people with epilepsy this is often accompanied by anxiety.  In human medicine, recent studies have found that behavioural therapies can improve epilepsy management, but this has yet to be explored in canine epilepsy patients. This trial is investigating behavioural therapies to work alongside medications as a method to reduce seizure frequency and anxiety in canine patients.

This trial is a randomised controlled trial in which participants are randomly allocated to one of three groups, including a baseline group so that the different behavioural managements can be compared.

What does the trial involve?

  • Keeping a seizure and behaviour diary for 6 months
  • Filling out a short questionnaire about your dog’s seizures and behaviour every two weeks for 6 months
  • Two video calls (three months apart, using free online software) about your dog’s behaviour, and to undertake some simple behavioural tasks with your dog
  • Following some simple advice for your dog for three months (this will involve reward-based advice to follow daily, which should take approximately 20-30 minutes per day)
  • Non-invasive collection of your dog’s hair at three time points

Who can be involved?

  • Owners based in the UK
  • Dedicated owners who are able to participate for the full 6 month trial period
  • We are looking for participants without any big events planned during the time that they participate e.g. holidays (of a week or longer) or house moves
  • Participation will be arranged around planned events where possible
  • Owners who are happy to discuss their participation with their vet and for their dog’s medical history to be shared with RVC

We are looking for dogs of any breed which have been diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy:

  • At least three seizures in the last three months
  • Had blood tests to rule out causes for seizures
  • First seizure was between 6 months and 6 years of age (if your dog had their first seizure aged over 6 years but has had an MRI and/or CT scans to rule out other causes they could still be accepted)
  • Whose medication is currently consistent (no changes in the number or dosages of medications in the last month at least), with no planned changes during the trial period (changes will be permitted during the trial if your vet recommends this)
  • Dogs that do not have any other underlying health conditions or limited hearing or vision
  • Entire females which are due in season during the trial period (participation will be arranged around seasons where possible)

How to get involved

Please register your interest by completing this questionnaire about your dog:

If you and your dog are eligible to take part we will contact you to find out more information, and to arrange your start date and two video call appointments.

If you have any questions, or would like further information, please email Sarah Hobbs at

This study has been granted ethical approval by the RVC Ethics and Welfare Committee (URN 2020 1966-3), and is in collaboration with University of Bristol

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