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Investigating epilepsy in dogs
  1. Kate Stalin, BA, VetMB, MRCVS
  1. Tighmonadh, Cardross Road, Cardross, Glasgow G82 5HD, UK
  1. e-mail: stalin.kate{at}

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WHEN a dog is presented with recurrent seizures, investigation proceeds to find an underlying cause. Symptomatic epilepsy occurs secondarily to a structural disorder of the central nervous system (CNS), eg, congenital malformation, a space-occupying lesion, ischaemia or traumatic scar; reactive seizures are caused by disorders that primarily affect other body systems, which in turn affect metabolism of CNS neurons; and epilepsy of an unknown cause is referred to as idiopathic.

Idiopathic epilepsy in people is not seen as a single disease entity but as multiple different syndromes with vastly divergent symptoms. Seizures have been classified according to age at onset, pattern of seizures and prognosis. Pathogenesis and pathophysiology of specific syndromes can then be studied in both human patients and rodent models at the cellular and molecular level.

Canine idiopathic epilepsy remains a diagnosis of exclusion requiring referral for neurological assessment and expensive advanced imaging. Recent years have shown an increase in studies to unravel the underlying aetiologies of canine epilepsies and pedigree analysis has shown a genetic component in a large number of breeds (Van der Velden 1968, Falco and others 1974, Edmonds and others 1979, Srenk and others 1994, Kathmann and others 1999, Berendt and others 2002, 2009, Patterson and others 2003, 2005, Casal and others 2006, Viitmaa and others 2006, Licht and others 2007, Weissl and others 2012). This is not surprising as idiopathic epilepsies are thought to arise from genetic abnormalities that lead to an alteration of basic neuronal regulation. In human beings several genes that code for protein subunits of …

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