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Acta Vet Scand. 2008 Dec 22;50:51. doi: 10.1186/1751-0147-50-51.

Prevalence and characteristics of epilepsy in the Belgian shepherd variants Groenendael and Tervueren born in Denmark 1995-2004.

Author information

1
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Dyrlaegevej 16, DK-1870 Frb. C, Denmark. mbe@life.ku.dk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The Belgian shepherd Groenendael and Tervueren is believed to be at higher risk of developing epilepsy than dogs of the common population. This epidemiological study was designed to estimate the prevalence of epilepsy in the Danish population of Groenendael and Tervueren born between 1995 and 2004. Furthermore, it was the intention to describe the clinical manifestation (seizure types and phenomenology) of epilepsy and to identify risk factors for euthanasia once the dog was diagnosed as having epilepsy.

METHODS:

All owners of Groenendael and Tervueren dogs born between January 1995 and December 2004 and registered in the Danish Kennel Club (1,248 dogs) were contacted and asked to answer a mailed questionnaire concerning epilepsy. Positive responders were subsequently validated in a follow-up interview conducted by telephone using a standardized questionnaire. Owners were questioned about age at first seizure, seizure frequency, seizure duration, a detailed description of seizure phenomenology, post-ictal signs and if a veterinarian had diagnosed the dog with epilepsy.

RESULTS:

Prevalence of epilepsy was estimated at 9.5%. Mean age of epilepsy debut was 3.3 years (range 0.5-8.0 years). There was an almost equal number of Groenendael (25) and Tervueren (24). The distribution of females and males was 31 and 18 respectively. Twenty-five per cent experienced focal seizures, 53% experienced focal seizures with secondary generalization and 18% experienced primary generalized seizures. In four percent seizures were unclassifiable. The most commonly reported focal seizure phenomenology included ataxia, crawling, swaying, fearful behavior, salivation, excessive attention seeking and disorientation. In 16% of the cases, epilepsy led to euthanasia. Intact dogs with epilepsy had a significantly increased risk of being euthanized because of epilepsy compared to neutered dogs with epilepsy. In 22% of the cases the owners reported that anxiety/hyperactivity/stress could act as a seizure provoking factor.

CONCLUSION:

A high prevalence of epilepsy appears to be present in the Danish Groenendael and Tervueren population. The relatively late debut age of epilepsy in this breed contributes greatly to the increased prevalence of epileptic individuals, because dogs developing epilepsy late in life are used for breeding unintended.

PMID:
19102738
PMCID:
PMC2633289
DOI:
10.1186/1751-0147-50-51
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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