Quantification of pruritic behavior in dogs with the aid of a wearable sensor

23 July 2018 – News

Pruritus is common in many skin disorders and it manifests through several types of behaviors. Until now, research into objective identification systems has used wearable sensors with limited functionality that could only capture differences in activity.  More established methods for pruritus identification rely on subjective owner reports.

However, for this study, using both video recordings and sensor data from 260 healthy dogs (from two humane society facilities) and 101 dogs that had been described as having pruritus by their owners (from a dermatology referral practice), the authors attempted to validate an objective method of identifying pruritic behavior.

The high frequency and multidimensional sensors that were attached to the dog’s collars in this study allowed for the differentiation of two types of behaviors associated with pruritus – scratching and head shaking. After the collected data was processed by a specially created algorithm and compared to the behaviors seen on the video recordings, they arrived at a sensitivity of 72.16% and a specificity of 99.78% for head shaking and a sensitivity of 76.85% and a specificity of 99.73% for scratching behavior.

While scratching and head shaking are not the only behaviors associated with pruritus, the authors consider this type of system to be a promising way to objectively monitor and quantify certain behaviors.

In Griffies, J. D., Zutty, J., Sarzen, M., & Soorholtz, S. (2018). Wearable sensor shown to specifically quantify pruritic behaviors in dogs. BMC Veterinary Research14, 124.