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Preliminary assessment of cognitive impairments in canine idiopathic epilepsy
  1. Joshua Winter1,
  2. Rowena Mary Anne Packer1 and
  3. Holger Andreas Volk2
  1. 1 Clinical Science and Services, Royal Vet College, Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
  2. 2 Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; rpacker{at}


In humans, epilepsy can induce or accelerate cognitive impairment (CI). There is emerging evidence of CI in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE) from recent epidemiological studies. The aim of our study was to assess CI in dogs with IE using two tests of cognitive dysfunction designed for use in a clinical setting. Dogs with IE (n=17) were compared against controls (n=18) in their performance in two tasks; a spatial working memory task and a problem-solving task. In addition, owners completed the Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Rating (CCDR) scale for their dog. The groups did not differ statistically with respect to age and breed. Dogs with IE performed significantly worse than controls on the spatial working memory task (P=0.016), but not on the problem solving task (P=0.683). CCDR scores were significantly higher in the IE group (P=0.016); however, no dogs reach the recommended threshold score for CCD diagnosis. Our preliminary data suggest that dogs with IE exhibit impairments in a spatial working memory task. Further research is required to explore the effect of IE on other cognitive abilities in dogs with a larger sample, characterising the age of onset, nature and progression of any impairments and the impact of anti-epileptic drugs.

  • epilepsy
  • behaviour
  • dogs
  • seizures
  • cognition
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  • Funding RMAP is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council ( grant number BB/P010881/1. HV is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council ( grant number BB/P001874/1.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval This study was given ethical approval by the Royal Veterinary College welfare and ethics committee (2016-U175).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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