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Canine epilepsy: separating the wood from the trees
  1. Holger A. Volk, DVM, PGCAP, PhD, DipECVN, FHEA MRCVS
  1. Department of Clinical Science and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA, UK, e-mail:

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EVERY 100th patient appearing on the doorstep of a busy first-opinion veterinary practice will be presented with seizures and two-thirds of these patients will have epilepsy (Kearsley-Fleet and others 2013, Heske and others 2014). Despite the frequency in occurrence and a plethora of published studies, clinicians remain puzzled regarding the correct terminology, how to diagnose the different types of epilepsy, how and when to implement best - practice treatment and when treatment adjustments are necessary.

In 2015, a group of veterinary neurology specialists and non-specialists came together to form the International Veterinary Epilepsy Task Force (IVETF). The IVETF's main aim is to provide the veterinary community, breeders and dog owners (and in part cat owners) with consensus statements on the key areas in the field of epilepsy (Volk 2015). The IVETF wants to represent the ‘chain-of-care’ involving a broad range of stakeholders (veterinary and human neurologists and neuroscientists, practitioners, neuropharmacologists and neuropathologists) to ensure that the consensus statements produced are pragmatic and user-friendly. More than 25 co-authors were involved in the process of developing seven consensus statements:

■ IVETF consensus reports on epilepsy definition, classification and terminology in companion animals (Berendt and others 2015);

■ IVETF consensus proposal: diagnostic approach to epilepsy in dogs (De Risio and others 2015);

■ IVETF current understanding of idiopathic epilepsy of genetic or suspected genetic origin in purebred dogs (Huelsmeyer and others 2015);

■ IVETF consensus proposal: medical treatment of canine epilepsy in Europe (Bhatti and others 2015);

■ IVETF consensus proposal: outcome of therapeutic interventions in canine and feline epilepsy (Potschka and others 2015);

■ IVETF recommendations for a veterinary epilepsy-specific MRI protocol (Rusbridge and others 2015); and

■ IVETF recommendations for systematic sampling and processing of brains from epileptic dogs and cats (Matiasek and others 2015 …

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