Beagles And Epilepsy
There are some dog breeds among which epilepsy is more prevalent than in the general population.
- Belgian Shepherds
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Miniature Schnauzers
But the breed most likely to suffer from the affliction is the Beagle. It is estimated that 2-5 out of every 100 beagles will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives.
Why this should be so, is not clearly understood. In 2022, a study was published on the clinical symptoms of twenty-eight beagles with Lafora disease, which is a rare genetic disorder that causes epilepsy. The conclusion was that Lafora disease is relatively common in beagles, with a prevalence of 2.5% in the study population.
The most common clinical signs of Lafora disease in beagles are
- Myoclonus (a type of movement disorder that is characterized by sudden, involuntary muscle twitches. It can affect any muscle in the body, but most commonly the legs and muzzle).
- Ataxia (a type of movement disorder that is characterized by loss of balance and coordination).
It is caused by Lafora bodies, which are abnormal protein deposits in the brain that can damage nerve cells and disrupt normal brain functions.
Early diagnosis of Lafora disease is important for providing optimal care for affected dogs because it is a progressive disease, with a mean survival time of 2.5 years after the onset of clinical signs.
The study’s authors also recommend that beagles with epilepsy undergo genetic testing for Lafora disease, as this can help to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other causes of epilepsy.
Signs of Epilepsy
If you have a beagle, it is important to be aware of the signs of epilepsy so that you can seek veterinary attention if your dog experiences a seizure.
Here are some of the signs of epilepsy in dogs:
- Loss of consciousness
- Muscle twitching or jerking
- Foaming at the mouth
- Urinating or defecating involuntarily
- R paddling – a rhythmic, paddling motion of the hind legs
If you see your dog experiencing any of these signs, it is important to stay calm and keep your dog safe. Clear away any objects that could injure your dog during the seizure. Do not try to hold your dog down or put anything in their mouth. Once the seizure has passed, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The most common treatment is anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), also known as anticonvulsants. AEDs work by changing the electrical activity in the brain to prevent seizures. There are many different types of AEDs available, and your veterinarian will work with you to find the one that is most effective and has the fewest side effects for your dog.
Other treatments for epilepsy in dogs include:
Diet: Start a special diet that is high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat.
Surgery: Surgery may be an option for dogs with epilepsy that is not well-controlled with AEDs.
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS): A device that helps control seizures is implanted.
Other actions to help manage your dog’s epilepsy
Keep a seizure diary. This will help you to track the frequency and severity of your dog’s seizures, and it can help your veterinarian to adjust your dog’s treatment plan as needed.
Identify and avoid your dog’s triggers. Some dogs with epilepsy have specific triggers that can cause them to have seizures. Common triggers include stress, excitement, and fatigue. If you can identify your dog’s triggers, you can try to avoid them to help reduce the frequency and severity of their seizures.
Be prepared for seizures. If your dog has a seizure, stay calm and try to keep them safe. Clear away any objects that could injure your dog during the seizure. Do not try to hold your dog down or put anything in their mouth. Once the seizure has passed, contact your veterinarian immediately.
With proper treatment, most dogs with epilepsy can live longer and happier lives.