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The Impact of Idiopathic Epilepsy on Dog Owners

Fabio Stabile, DVM, MRCVS, PhD, and Luisa De Risio DVM, MRCVS, PhD, Dip ECVN

Idiopathic epilepsy, also referred to as primary epilepsy, is a common cause of epileptic seizure activity in dogs [1], and the most common chronic neurological condition in this species [2–4]. The term refers to recurrent epileptic seizures with no underlying cause other than a strongly suspected or confirmed genetic or familial basis. A genetic component for idiopathic epilepsy has been identified in several canine breeds (

  • Table 1
); however, the molecular basis of the condition remains unknown [5–21]. In the absence of a genetic test, the diagnosis is currently based on the dog’s age at epileptic seizure onset (between 6 months and 6 years); normal interictal behaviour, physical examination, and neurological examination; and exclusion of metabolic, toxic, or structural cerebral disorders by means of diagnostic investigations (e.g. haematology and serum biochemistry, magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] of the brain, and cerebrospinal fluid [CSF] analysis) [2,4].

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