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Multimodal Spectral Imaging for Canine Skin Erythema Estimation: from the Lab to the Clinic – DogSPEC

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DogSPEC (Multimodal Spectral Imaging for Canine Skin Erythema Estimation: from the Lab to the Clinic – DogSPEC)

Reporting period: 2017-08-22 to 2019-08-21

Currently, biophotonic techniques, like various cameras, pulse oximeters, etc., remain rarely exploited in veterinary medicine. Only if a specific human system can be directly or with minor adjustments applied to animals, it gets used in the veterinary practice. In our project, we wanted to address some of the clinical challenges in medicine of dogs and cats by applying biophotonic techniques.

a) Due to extensive pigmentation and hairiness of dogs and cats, a pulse oximeter, which monitors heart rate and blood oxygen saturation, is routinely placed solely on the tongue. This approach is feasible only for unconscious dogs and cats, e.g. during surgical procedures. Therefore, we investigated several other measurement sites (legs, tail) that could be tolerated by conscious animals.

b) Body temperature measurement is an essential part of the clinical examination in dogs and cats since deviations from the normal temperature can point towards infections or shock. The clinicians usually perform a rectal temperature measurement with a digital contact thermometer. However, rectal measurements are often poorly tolerated. Therefore, we tested a less stressful, non-contact infrared thermometer for assessing body surface temperature on several body sites.

c) Atopic dermatitis is a common canine inflammatory and pruritic skin disease associated with an allergy. The monitoring of skin erythema over time is an essential diagnostic tool. Currently, the erythema assessment is done subjectively by visual estimation. Therefore, we developed and tested a few optical devices for assessing canine skin objectively.

Biophotonic diagnostic techniques can help veterinarians and, by that, improve the health of dogs and cats. As perfectly summarized in the project One Health of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), human health and wellbeing are closely related to animal health. For example, there are many animal diseases, which can be transmitted to humans as influenza and rabies. Secondly, pet animals importantly improve the quality of our lives. Since our work contributes to animal health, also human health and wellbeing could profit from the project.
In the project, we built four biophotonic devices for addressing various clinical challenges in medicine of dogs and cats. One device served to monitor pulse rate on measurement sites, which are well-tolerated by dogs and cats. Additionally, the modified device could measure their capillary refill time (CRT), which is an essential parameter for estimating pet cardiovascular health. The third device could measure body temperature without any contact. Finally, we could objectively evaluate the skin redness in allergic dogs.

Our results were published as three journal and eight conference papers. The work has been done in close cooperation with veterinarians, which showed interest in our devices. We expect that some of the solutions will be clinically used in the near future.
As the results of our project clearly showed, biophotonics can address several clinical challenges in medicine of dogs and cats by measuring various vital parameters like pulse rate, skin redness, and body temperature. The biophotonic measurements help veterinarians to execute diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, which lead to better clinical outcomes. Since pets are an important part of our lives, our work can additionally contribute to the wellbeing of humans.
Measuring skin redness in dogs by an optical set-up with a smartphone and a dermatoscope.