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Epilepsy in animals

Epilepsy can occur in animals other than humans (see main article Epilepsy). It is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. Canine epilepsy is often genetic. Epilepsy in cats and other pets is rarer, likely because there is no hereditary component to epilepsy in these animals.


Canine epilepsy

In dogs, epilepsy is often an inherited condition. The incidence of epilepsy/seizures in the general dog population is estimated at between 0.5% and 5.7%.[1] In certain breeds, such as the Belgian Shepherd varieties, the incidence may be much higher.


There are three types of epilepsy in dogs: reactive, secondary, and primary.[2] Reactive epileptic seizures are caused by metabolic issues, such as low blood sugar or kidney or liver failure. Epilepsy caused by problems such as a brain tumor, stroke, or other trauma is known as secondary, or symptomatic, epilepsy.

In primary, or idiopathic, epilepsy, there is no known cause. This type of epilepsy is diagnosed by eliminating other possible causes for the seizures. Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy experience their first seizure between the ages of one and three. However, the age of diagnosis is only one factor in diagnosing canine epilepsy. One study found a cause for the seizures in one-third of dogs between the ages of one and three, indicating secondary or reactive rather than primary epilepsy.[3]

When an animal who has suffered a seizure is presented to a veterinarian, the veterinarian will do an initial work-up. This work-up may include a physical and neurological exam, a complete blood count, serum chemistry profile, urinalysis, bile tests, and thyroid function tests.[4] These tests will help the veterinarian determine whether the animal is in fact experiencing seizures, and may help determine a cause for the seizures if there is one. Veterinarians may also request that dog owners keep a "seizure log" documenting the timing, length, severity, and recovery of each seizure, as well as any other factors that might be helpful, such as dietary or environmental changes.


Treatments can include the drugs phenobarbital, phenytoin, potassium bromide, levetiracetam, zonisamide, and diazepam. Potassium bromide and phenobarbital are often paired for the treatment of animals with epilepsy (other drugs such as gabapentin are only recently being introduced into the treatment of animals). A veterinarian will often prescribe Zentinol in an effort to minimize the damaging effects of bromides on the liver enzymes.

Feline epilepsy

Complex partial seizures are more common in cats than generalized convulsions. These partial seizures may be shown by either bizarre behavior or a complete lack of movement, accompanied by facial tics or excessive salivation.


  1. ^ Wiersma-Aylward, A. 1995. Canine Epilepsy. Retrieved August 6, 2007
  2. ^ Peterson, M, Inherited epilepsy can be devastating in dogs.
  3. ^ Podell, M, Seizure classification in dogs from non-referral based population. JAVMA 6 pp 1721-1728 (1995).
  4. ^ The Canine Epilepsy Network,

Support organisations

  • The Epi Feline Support Group
  • Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels For information and support
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Epilepsy_in_animals". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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