Features of stimulus-specific seizures in dogs with reflex epilepsy: 43 cases (2000–2014)

Linda Shell Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Ross University, Basseterre, St Kitts, West Indies.
Veterinary Information Network, 777 W Covell Blvd, Davis, CA 95616.

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Rachel Scariano Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Ross University, Basseterre, St Kitts, West Indies.

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Mark Rishniw Veterinary Information Network, 777 W Covell Blvd, Davis, CA 95616.

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 BVSc, PhD

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe the occurrence and management of reflex epilepsy (ie, seizure activity triggered by exposure to specific locations or situations) in dogs.

DESIGN Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS 43 client-owned dogs.

PROCEDURES Discussions by veterinarians participating in the Veterinary Information Network online community for the years 2000 through 2014 were reviewed to identify dogs with a diagnosis of reflex epilepsy and seizure activity in response to stimuli. History, signalment (including age at onset), the specific stimulus or stimuli that provoked seizures, treatments, and any concurrent neurologic diagnoses were recorded.

RESULTS A variety of breeds were affected. Median age at onset was 5 years (range, 3 months to 11 years). Reflex seizures were reported as being repeatedly triggered by visits to a veterinary clinic (35/43 dogs), grooming facility (24/43 dogs), or boarding facility (13/43 dogs) and, less commonly, by other situations (eg, pet store or car ride). Over half of the dogs (24/43) had multiple triggers. Eight (19%) dogs had seizures at other times that were not induced by location or a specific situation. A variety of sedatives and maintenance antiepileptic drugs administered to affected dogs failed to prevent the stimulus-specific seizure activity.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results of the present study suggested that seizures provoked by specific situations or locations occur in dogs with reflex epilepsy and that common triggers were visits to veterinary and grooming facilities. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the characteristics of reflex epilepsy in dogs and to determine the most effective means to manage these patients.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To describe the occurrence and management of reflex epilepsy (ie, seizure activity triggered by exposure to specific locations or situations) in dogs.

DESIGN Retrospective case series.

ANIMALS 43 client-owned dogs.

PROCEDURES Discussions by veterinarians participating in the Veterinary Information Network online community for the years 2000 through 2014 were reviewed to identify dogs with a diagnosis of reflex epilepsy and seizure activity in response to stimuli. History, signalment (including age at onset), the specific stimulus or stimuli that provoked seizures, treatments, and any concurrent neurologic diagnoses were recorded.

RESULTS A variety of breeds were affected. Median age at onset was 5 years (range, 3 months to 11 years). Reflex seizures were reported as being repeatedly triggered by visits to a veterinary clinic (35/43 dogs), grooming facility (24/43 dogs), or boarding facility (13/43 dogs) and, less commonly, by other situations (eg, pet store or car ride). Over half of the dogs (24/43) had multiple triggers. Eight (19%) dogs had seizures at other times that were not induced by location or a specific situation. A variety of sedatives and maintenance antiepileptic drugs administered to affected dogs failed to prevent the stimulus-specific seizure activity.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results of the present study suggested that seizures provoked by specific situations or locations occur in dogs with reflex epilepsy and that common triggers were visits to veterinary and grooming facilities. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the characteristics of reflex epilepsy in dogs and to determine the most effective means to manage these patients.

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