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Behavioural changes in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy
  1. Fraje Watson1,2,
  2. Rowena Mary Anne Packer2,
  3. Clare Rusbridge1,3 and
  4. Holger Andreas Volk2,4
  1. 1 Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurology, Godalming, UK
  2. 2 Clinical Sciences and Services, Royal Veterinary College, Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
  3. 3 School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK
  4. 4 Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Hannover, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Fraje Watson, Aspire CREATe, University College London, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Brockley Hill, Stanmore, HA7 4LP, UK; fraye.watson.18{at}ucl.ac.uk

Abstract

Background Breed-specific and broader cohort studies have shown behavioural changes in dogs following the onset of idiopathic epilepsy (IE).

Methods A cross-sectional, case–control questionnaire study was carried out to strengthen this body of evidence. Owners of eight breeds of dog completed an online questionnaire about their dogs’ behaviour; once for control dogs and twice for dogs with IE, for both pre-IE and post-IE onset behaviour.

Results Ninety-six (24.74 per cent) dogs with IE and 292 (75.26 per cent) age and breed-matched control dogs met the inclusion criteria. Control dogs had significantly higher ‘Trainability’ scores than dogs with IE (P=0.04). After IE, dogs had significantly higher ‘Dog-Directed Fear or Aggression’ (P=0.02), ‘Non-Social Fear’ (P=0.01), ‘Attachment/Attention-Seeking Behaviour’ (P=0.04), ‘Attention-Deficit’ (P=0.02) and significantly lower ‘Trainability’ (P=0.02) than prior to the onset of IE. Medication status did not significantly affect any behavioural factor, but drug-resistant dogs had significantly less ‘Trainability’ than drug-responsive (P=0.04) and partially drug-responsive dogs (P=0.03).

Conclusion Behavioural differences related to cognitive function are seen between dogs with IE and controls. Behavioural changes related to anxiety, attention and cognition are seen in dogs following the onset of IE. The ability to clinically define and diagnose behavioural comorbidities in dogs is much needed from both a clinical and research perspective.

  • Dogs
  • Behaviour
  • Anxiety
  • Idiopathic Epilepsy
  • Cognition
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Footnotes

  • Presented at European College of Veterinary Neurology Symposium 2017 as a poster

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The University of Surrey and Fitzpatrick Referrals did not play a role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript and only provided financial support in the form of authors’ salaries.

  • Competing interests HAV: served as paid consultant for Boehringer Ingelheim and CEVA Animal Health. Served as contract researcher for: Nestle 2012–2014 and 2017–2019, dietary modification of epilepsy in dogs; Desitin Pharma, 2012, the role of levetiracetam in a referral hospital; Industrial Funding, 2014–2015, investigating the effects of imepitoin behavioural, physiologic and owner-reported indicators of anxiety in dogs treated for idiopathic epilepsy. Received competitive research grants for: RCVS pump primer grant, 2010–2013, pharmacometabonomic profiling of epileptic dogs; Waltham Foundation, 2011–2014, determination of plasma omega-3 fatty acid status in dogs with primary epilepsy and relationship to antiepileptic drug metabolism; CASE BBSRC PhD studentship, 2012–2016, metabolic profiling of epilepsy in dogs; American Kennel Club, American Health Foundation, 2016– 2018, investigating the effect of a ketogenic medium-chain triglycerides supplement on the treatment of canine idiopathic epilepsy and its behavioural comorbidities; BBSRC, 2017–2020, investigating the relationship between epilepsy, drug resistance and affective disorders in the domestic dog. CR: employed by the University of Surrey and Fitzpatrick Referrals, Surrey. She has served as a paid consultant for Boehringer Ingelheim. RMAP: received industrial funding as a coapplicant from Boehringer Ingelheim (2014–2015; investigating the effects of imepitoin on behavioural, physiologic and owner-reported indicators of anxiety in dogs treated for idiopathic epilepsy) and Nestle (2017–2019; dietary modification of epilepsy in dogs). Received competitive research grants from the American Kennel Club (2016–2018; investigating the effect of a ketogenic medium-chain triglycerides supplement on the treatment of canine idiopathic epilepsy and its behavioural comorbidities) and BBSRC (2017–2020; investigating the relationship between epilepsy, drug resistance and affective disorders in the domestic dog; BB/P001874/1) and (2017–2020; comorbidity and characteristics of canine neurodevelopmental disorders and their impact on animal welfare; BB/P 010881/1).

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Research was approved by the Royal Veterinary College Animal and Welfare Ethical Review Board (URN M2015 0053).

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

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article.

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