The management of canine and feline epilepsy can be extremely frustrating and upsetting for both owners and veterinary surgeons. This is partly due to the limited treatment options currently available and is compounded by the relatively superficial understanding of the pathophysiological basis of canine and feline epilepsy.
In order to improve treatment for epileptic dogs and cats, and to focus our research on the pathophysiology and treatment of epilepsy, we started an Epilepsy Clinic at The Royal Veterinary College's Queen Mother Hospital for Animals in 2005. Consultations are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Before attending our clinic, owners are invited to fill in an Epilepsy questionnaire (designed by Holger Volk and Nadia Shihab) that helps us categorise the seizure/epilepsy type, and will be entered in our purpose-built data-base to build on our understanding of canine and feline epilepsy.
Investigation and treatment of your pet’s epilepsy will be discussed with you, and planned depending on you and your pet’s needs. In most patients with recurrent epileptic seizures, the investigation is as follows:
A history, full clinical and neurological examination is carried out in the consultation, which allows the clinician to find out a great deal about your pet’s general health and the functioning of his/her nervous system.
Blood tests, radiographs, EEG and other tests if appropriate, are discussed with you.
A brain (magnetic resonance imaging – MRI) scan is organised if required, along with a spinal fluid tap. These tests are performed under anaesthesia and are organised the same week as your consultation, usually the next day. Most pets need to stay in the hospital for one night.
Owners with epileptic dogs resistant to treatment are offered the advanced treatment options that are currently available. We store DNA from all dogs entered on the database. These samples are used in collaborative studies on the molecular basis of canine epilepsies.
We welcome all patients with recurrent seizure disorders to our clinic, and owners will be offered the opportunity to enter studies and drug trials if appropriate. Consultations are slightly longer, since we recognise that time is needed for the owner to discuss their concerns about caring for a pet with epilepsy.
We now offer digital electro-encephalography for dogs, cats and horses. The EEG clinic is run in consultation with a team of human neurophysiologists. An EEG examination can be performed without sedation in co-operative pets but may require mild sedative medication in more active dogs and cats. Small needles, similar to acupuncture needles are placed under the skin.
Why is EEG useful? EEG is one of the few diagnostic tests that can tell us anything about the function of the cerebral cortex itself, the part of the brain that is malfunctioning in epilepsy. The specific uses of EEG are as follows: