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Understanding your dog’s epilepsy

Epilepsy can be broadly categorised into two types: primary (or idiopathic) and secondary (or symptomatic).

Most dogs that are diagnosed with epilepsy have primary epilepsy, where no underlying cause for the seizures is found. These dogs will be healthy and completely normal in all other respects.

Unfortunately, there is no single test that can determine if your dog has primary epilepsy. Instead, your vet will make a diagnosis by listening to your description of what happens during your dog’s seizures, examining your dog thoroughly and performing a series of blood tests to rule out secondary epilepsy (where there will be an underlying cause). It is normal for dogs with primary epilepsy to have normal test results. In some cases, your vet might suggest that your dog sees a specialist to have a brain scan (or MRI).

Primary epilepsy can affect any dog, but is more common in young (1-5 years), purebred dogs2, such as:


2. Monteiro R et al. J Small Anim Pract 2012; 53: 526–530.

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This site is provided as an information service for veterinary professionals and the owners of dogs with epilepsy. Any questions about your dog should be directed to your veterinary practice.

The information contained in this website are intended to be used for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be general or specific medical advice. Please seek professional medical advice in respect to your particular situation prior to any use.