Epilepsy: The Mystery Twitch – A Case Study of a Flat-Coated Retriever

Question

Hi! My flat-coated retriever dog, Max, has a strange twitch sometimes and I don't know what's causing it. He just stops and starts twitching like he's having a seizure. Could it really be epilepsy and if so, how can we treat it?"

Veterinary answer

"Hi! Based on your description, it sounds like Max may indeed be having epileptic seizures. Epilepsy is not uncommon in flat-coated retrievers and is often genetically inherited.

The disease often appears between 1-3 years of age and the causes of seizures are often difficult to identify.

The epileptic seizures focus on abnormal synchronous electrical activity of the brain's nerve cells. This activity causes the characteristic twitching and seizures you see in Max. Other symptoms include disorientation, chewing movements, drooling and collapsing.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for epilepsy, but the condition is treatable!

Treatment usually involves drugs that reduce electrical activity in the brain, such as phenobarbital and levetiracetam.

It is important that these drugs are given strictly as directed by your vet, and regular laboratory tests are needed to monitor your dog's condition!

Max may appear to be a perfectly normal dog between seizures, but bear in mind that seizures are stressful and taxing on the body.

It is important to provide an environment that is calm and stress-free.

Treating epilepsy requires a long-term commitment, but with the right treatment Max should be able to live a normal, happy life. If you suspect epilepsy, it is important to see a vet as soon as possible.

Diagnosing epilepsy usually requires a neurological examination and blood tests to rule out other possible causes.

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Epilepsy is not an easy thing to deal with, but the combination of your dogs' love and patience and your veterinary expertise can help Max continue to live a happy and healthy life."