The first known history of epilepsy dates back to Babylonian times when it was believed that people with epileptic fits were possessed by gods or evil spirits. In fact the word epilepsy is derived from a Greek word "epilepsia" which means to take hold of or to seize. The Greeks believed seizures were caused by demons, and regarded them as a supernatural phenomenon. In the 19th century, as neurology emerged as a new discipline, distinct from psychiatry, the concept of epilepsy as a brain disorder became more widely accepted, especially in Europe and North America.
sometimes called a seizure disorder, is a chronic medical condition produced by temporary changes in the electrical function of the brain, causing recurrent seizures which affect awareness, movement, or sensation. "Recurrent" is a key word because a dog who has an isolated seizure does NOT have epilepsy. Also note that epilepsy is not a disease but rather a neurological disorder that affects the brain and shows itself in the form of seizures.
Epilepsy is not a life threatening condition and most dogs will live a normal life in spite of occasional seizures. It is believed that dogs are like humans in that they do not feel any pain during a seizure.
It is estimated that 9% of the human population will have a seizure at some point in their lives, however, only about 1% of the population has epilepsy. In dogs, some studies estimate that 4% of all dogs have epilepsy, however, in some breeds of dogs the prevalence is as high at 14%.
Although many advances have been made in the study of epilepsy, the cause of this disorder is still not completely understood. Studies of various breeds, highly suggest that some forms of epilepsy are hereditary. Breeds that may have a genetic cause of epilepsy include Beagles, Belgian Tervuren, Keeshound, Dachshund, British Alsatian, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Saint Bernard, Siberian Husky, Visla and Collie. Other breeds are known to have a predisposition to idiopathic epilepsy including Alaskan Malamute, Boxer, Cocker Spaniel, German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Poodle, Shetland Sheepdog, Springer Spaniel, Welsh Corgi and Wirehaired Fox Terrier however a genetic cause has not been investigated.
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Last Updated August 2009