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16-04-2013 | Veterinary medicine | Article

Canine epilepsy related to breed, gender


Free abstract

medwireNews: Epilepsy of unknown origin (EUO) is more likely in male compared with female dogs, but is no more likely among purebred dogs than their crossbred counterparts, report researchers.

The results reveal that EUO is more common among German shepherd dogs and border terrier breeds than among crossbreeds, however.

Lianne Kearsley-Fleet (The University of Manchester, UK) and colleagues also observed an association between West Highland white terriers and a reduced risk for EUO, which is a "previously unreported finding," they remark in Veterinary Record.

"This retrospective study identifies EUO as an important disorder among dogs with a clinically relevant prevalence of 0.62 per cent," they write.

A total of 680,322 distinct observations from 92 UK veterinary practices formed the basis of the analysis, including 48% female dogs, 53% neutered dogs, and 20% crossbreeds.

The most common dog purebreeds were the labrador retriever (10%), Staffordshire bull terrier (8%), and Parsons (Jack) Russell terrier (7%). A total of 539 cases of EUO occurred during the January 2010 through April 2011 study period.

Almost all dogs with EUO (88%) received long-term antiepileptic medication, with phenobarbitone being the most commonly prescribed drug.

In multivariate analysis, the researchers found no association between the dogs' neuter status and EUO However, among specific breeds, the German shepherd was a significant 1.90 times more likely than crossbred dogs to have experienced EUO while the border terrier was a significant 2.70 times more likely.

Male dogs were 1.72 times more likely than their female counterparts to experience EUO, a finding previously recorded in other research, note Kearsley-Fleet et al.

The West Highland white terrier was 77% less likely to experience EUO compared with crossbred dogs, and animals aged between 3 and 6 years were 42% less likely to experience EUO than those aged 10 years and older.

Epilepsy has been suggested to be the most common chronic neurologic condition in dogs; however "the exact prevalence" in the general dog population remains unknown, say the authors.

"A cohort of longer duration is needed to assess incident cases and progression of the disease," they conclude.

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Sarah Guy, medwireNews Reporter