Of all the technologies that have emerged in recent years, the smart phone may be the most powerful tool in veterinary neurology. Yes, smart phones have been more impactful than MRI, CT scans, 3D Operational Exoscopes and Electrodiagnostic Machines. The ever-present video camera offers pet owners the opportunity to film their dogs and cats during neurological episodes. These videos help vets assess diseases based on real-time gait and episodic events that only sporadically manifest.

If your pet has a neurological disorder, you know (all too well) that he or she often acts like nothing is wrong the second you arrive at the vet. Therefore, I wanted to write this article to provide guidelines for filming your pet so that your vet is able to fully assess your pet’s condition.

The Basics Of Filming Your Pet’s Gait

If your pet is experiencing mobility issues due to a neurological disease, it can be most helpful to a vet if the owner takes a video of his or her gait prior to a visit. Consult this best practice list before you start videotaping.

  • First, try to take two different videos of your pet walking.
    • Side angle
    • Toward and away from you
  • Make sure to capture at least 10 strides in each video for a complete evaluation.
  • While filming, stay in the same position.
  • For the best view, instruct the person who is walking the dog or cat to stand on the far side, keeping the pet in between the walker and the camera.
  • Consider the lighting (natural light is best so it’s best to go outside).
  • Film against a background color that is different than that of the dog.
  • From a technical standpoint, turn your phone to the horizontal position. By doing this, you increase the resolution of the video.
  • While it’s not necessary, if you are able to keep the video under 20 seconds, you will likely be able to send it as a text message or email without compression. However, most of our gait videos are closer to 45 seconds, and can be emailed (in a compressed format) or posted to a cloud (Google Drive, Apple Mail Drop or Dropbox).
    • Do not be concerned about this sending method, as it is the most common way of sending videos.
    • If you are emailing us, please send to [email protected]
  • Alternatively, the videos can be uploaded to a video website (YouTube or Vimeo) and shared with us on a private setting.

Using Video To Capture A Periodic Episode

Neurological disorders affect more than just the spine. Therefore, if your pet has a disease that causes seizures, abnormal movements (twitches, tremors, fasciculations or cramps) or fainting events, these are also evaluated by neurologists. While these periodic episodes are more sporadic and under less controlled circumstances, videos are also helpful for medical evaluations. A few guidelines to consider if you are able to capture an episode:

  • Attempt to record the episode in its entirety.
  • Zoom out to include your pet’s entire body in the frame.
    • With modern devices, there is no need to zoom in.
  • Try to keep the camera as still as possible.
  • Maximize the lighting.
    • If you are in a darker area, think about turning on your phone light.
  • If you are able, record for at least 30 seconds after the episode has ended.
  • Describe what you are seeing. Real-time descriptions are extremely helpful.
  • When the videos are segmented, make sure to order them.

How CARE Can Help

If you have questions about recording your pet, please contact us. Videos are not a substitute for office evaluations. Thus, we are unable to evaluate videos of patients if we have not completed a full examination and developed a client-patient-doctor relationship. That being said, the videos can be invaluable so please bring them to your appointment!

If you need to schedule an appointment, please call 704-457-2300 or ask your primary vet for a referral to our neurology team.

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