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Behavioral Changes in Dogs With Idiopathic Epilepsy Compared to Other Medical Populations

By Hilary Levitin, Devon Wallis Hague, Kelly C. Ballantyne, Laura E. Selmic

Category Journal Articles

Anxiety related behaviors have been reported in humans diagnosed with idiopathic
epilepsy (IE) and such traits may be altered depending on seizure phase. The purpose
of this study was to determine the presence and severity of anxiety related behaviors in
dogs with IE compared to other medical populations, and to determine if behavioral
changes were associated with seizure control. In this retrospective cross-sectional
study, the owners of 102 dogs presenting for wellness examination (37), epilepsy (38),
and intervertebral disc disease (27) were surveyed utilizing a questionnaire developed
based on the shortened Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire
(mini-CBARQ), previously validated for its ability to analyze canine behavior. Veterinarians
of participating dogs completed a questionnaire to verify diagnoses. Dogs with IE and
IVDD had a higher likelihood of being fearful/anxious when approached by an unfamiliar
dog compared to the wellness group. Dogs with IE receiving polytherapy had decreased
excitement before a walk (P = 0.0007) or car trip (P = 0.027), increased fear/anxiety
when groomed (P = 0.0197), and increased shaking, shivering, or trembling when left
alone (P = 0.0004) compared to dogs receiving monotherapy. Polytherapy dogs had
increased agitation when their owner/others showed affection toward other people/dogs
during preictal (Pperson = 0.005, Panimal = 0.0083), postictal (Pperson = 0.001,
Panimal = 0.0068), and interictal (Pperson = 0.0083, Panimal = 0.02) period compared
to monotherapy dogs. Seizure frequency and severity was not correlated with anxiety
related behavior in dogs with IE. While seizure phase was associated with behavior
changes in 38% (14/37) of our epileptic population, one specific seizure phase was
not more likely to produce behavior changes than another. Behavioral changes noted
in dogs with IE raises further questions about how this disease affects QoL. Research
was presented in abstract form at the ACVIM Forum, Denver, CO, USA, June 2016.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 6
Pages 7
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2019.00396
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Anxiety
  5. Dogs
  6. Epilepsy
  7. Fear
  8. Mammals
  9. open access
  10. Pets and companion animals
  11. Seizures
  1. open access