Is my Dog Prone to Seizures?
Finding out if specific breeds of dogs are prone to seizures is relatively easy. Check your breed against the list below. Although certain breeds are more prone than others to seizures, epilepsy can appear in any breed. You will want to determine if the seizure is caused by epilepsy, an illness or a toxin.
Take your dog to the vet and go over the health history. Specific illnesses, such as hypoglycemia, head trauma, liver disease, lead poisoning, kidney failure, and even worm infections can cause seizures.
Talk to your vet about the following tests:
- MRI to check for brain lesions
- Blood test to check for lead poisoning
- Glucose-tolerance test to check for hypoglycemia
Look throughout your house and garage for toxins that may trigger a seizure, to rule out environmental causes.
Breeds of Dogs Prone to Epilepsy
Any dog can develop epilepsy, but some breeds are genetically predisposed to the disease. Here is an alphabetical list:
- Australian Shepherd
- Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren)
- Border Collie
- Cocker Spaniel
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retrievers
- Irish Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- Saint Bernard
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Siberian Husky
- Springer Spaniels
- Welsh Corgy
- Wirehair Fox Terrier
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Irish Wolfhound
- Finnish Spitz
Genetic testing for seizures in dogs is not yet available, but that field of research is expanding quickly.
The Canine Epilepsy Project is a collaborative study into the causes of epilepsy in dogs. It is supported by grants from the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), individual breed clubs and private donations.
As of 1/28/11, samples from 9909 dogs representing 108 different breeds have been submitted for epilepsy research. Included in this total are 1578 affected dogs. As samples arrive, families are assembled and data compiled. Some of the breeds with extended family groups sampled, and a minimum of 20 “sib pairs” (an affected dog paired with it’s normal sibling) in the collection, have been or soon will be included in mapping experiments. For family groups that have been mapped, if there are potential areas of interest on specific chromosomes, those areas are being further examined. Although a few genes have been discovered in a few breeds for specific rare diseases that include seizures as one of many symptoms of the disease, at present there are no genes identified for “classic” epilepsy in any breed. The tools available for genetic studies are better than they have ever been, and research is ongoing wherever it appears that progress is possible. Samples from potentially useful families of any breed are still needed, and we encourage owners to participate by sending samples from epilepsy-affected dogs and their normal close relatives
|Breed||Total Number||Affected Total||Affected %|
|German Shepherd Dog||31||16||52%|
|Poodle - Miniature||25||11||44%|
|Jack Russell Terrier||28||11||39%|
|Bulldog (English Bulldog)||10||3||30%|
|Cocker Spaniel (American)||133||38||29%|
|Chesapeake Bay Retriever||87||24||28%|
|Alaskan (Racing) Husky||11||3||27%|
|Poodle - Standard||232||63||27%|
|Fox Terrier (Wire)||15||4||27%|
|German Shorthaired Pointer||63||16||25%|
|Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen||78||19||24%|
|Bernese Mountain Dog||19||4||21%|
|Curly Coated Retriever||75||12||16%|
|Irish Water Spaniel||310||41||13%|
|Chinook & Chinook cross||304||39||13%|
|English Springer Spaniel||921||99||11%|
|Welsh Springer Spaniel||243||25||10%|
|American Water Spaniel||266||27||10%|
Genetic Tests Available for Dogs
The following genetic tests are currently available:
- Degenerative Myelopathy for Boxer, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, German Shepherd Dog, Wire Fox Terrier,Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and Poodle.
- Episodic Falling Syndrome and “Dry curly coat syndrome” for Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Hemophilia A / Factor 8 for Havanese and Havana Silk Dog
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy 1 & 2 for Golden Retrievers
- Primary Open Angle Glaucoma for Beagles
For more information on these tests, please contact VetGen.com.