Published: 21 Sep 2018 | Last Updated: 21 Sep 2018 10:56:37

Seizures are considered common events in dogs. However, reliable information on seizure occurrence in UK dogs has been limited until now. Seizures in dogs are sudden, short lasting and transient events but, to date, most studies have focused on the sub-set of cases classified as epileptic. This new study explored seizures in general, rather than relying on semi-arbitrary classification into various subsets, to offer novel and arguably more clinically pertinent insights into this condition in dogs.

This latest VetCompass™ study has revealed the prevalence and risk factors for seizure occurrence. Certain breeds are at increased risk of seizure occurrence. Other risk factors such as sex, age and bodyweight were also identified. These results can help practitioners, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers and pharmacovigilance agencies by providing a representative evidence-base that can be generalized to the wider dog population.

Erlen A, Potschka H, Volk HA, Sauter-Louis C, O'Neill DG: Seizure occurrence in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK: prevalence and risk factors. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 2018,0(0).  

The full paper is freely available Open Access at

The study identified 3731 seizure cases from a population of 451,822 VetCompass™ dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK during 2013. The key findings include:  

  • The overall 1-year period prevalence for having at least one seizure was 0.82%.
  • Breeds with increased odds of seizure compared with Labrador Retrievers included the Pug, Basset Hound, Dogue de Bordeaux, Boxer and Beagle.
  • Breeds with reduced odds of seizure compared with Labrador Retrievers included the Shih-tzu, West Highland white terrier, English springer spaniel and Cocker spaniel.
  • Dogs aged 3.0 to ≤ 6.0 years had 2.13 times the odds for seizures compared with dogs aged between 0.5 to ≤ 3.0 years.
  • Dogs younger than 0.5 years had reduced odds for seizures.
  • There was a trend towards increasing odds of seizure occurrence with increasing age.
  • Males, regardless of neuter status, had higher odds for seizures compared with entire females.
  • Purebred dogs had 1.28 times the odds for seizures compared with crossbred dogs.
  • The “Toy” Kennel Club Breed group showed the highest odds of 1.68 for seizure occurrence compared with “Breeds not Kennel Club recognised”.
  • Dogs with an adult (> 18 months) bodyweight ≥ 40.00 kg had 1.24 times the odds for seizures compared with dogs < 10.00 kg.

RVC VetCompass™ researcher and co-author Dr Dan O’Neill said: ‘This study shows the beauty and the power of Big Data to take our knowledge base on companion animal health to levels that were previously only a dream. These results can greatly assist veterinarians, owners and breeders to improve the welfare of our dogs.’

You may also be interested in:

Top of page