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Use of accelerometer activity monitors to detect changes in pruritic behaviors: Interim clinical data on 6 dogs

Lookup NU author(s): Rob Thompson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Veterinarians and pet owners have limited ability to assess pruritic behaviors in dogs. This pilot study assessed the capacity of the Vetrax® triaxial accelerometer to measure these behaviors in six dogs with pruritus likely due to environmental allergens. Dogs wore the activity monitor for two weeks while consuming their usual pet food (baseline), then for eight weeks while consuming a veterinary-exclusive pet food for dogs with suspected non-food-related skin conditions (Hill’s Prescription Diet® Derm DefenseTM Canine dry food). Veterinarians and owners completed questionnaires during baseline, phase 1 (days 1-28) and phase 2 (days 29-56) without knowledge of the activity data. Continuous 3-axis accelerometer data was processed using proprietary behavior recognition algorithms and analyzed using general linear mixed models with false discovery rate-adjusted p values. Veterinarian-assessed overall clinical signs of pruritus were significantly predicted by scratching (β 0.176, p = 0.008), head shaking (β 0.197, p < 0.001) and sleep quality (β -0.154, p < 0.001), while owner-assessed quality of life was significantly predicted by scratching (β -0.103, p = 0.013) and head shaking (β -0.146, p < 0.001). Among dogs exhibiting pruritus signs eating the veterinary-exclusive food, the Vetrax® sensor provided an objective assessment of clinically relevant pruritic behaviors that agreed with owner and veterinarian reports.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wernimont SM, Thompson RJ, Mickelsen SL, Smith SC, Alvarenga IC, Gross KL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sensors

Year: 2018

Volume: 18

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 16/01/2018

Acceptance date: 13/01/2018

Date deposited: 16/04/2018

ISSN (print): 1424-8239

ISSN (electronic): 1424-8220

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/s18010249


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