Idiopathic epilepsy is a “diagnosis of exclusion” – there is no test at this time that says “yes, this dog has epilepsy”. A dog experiencing repeated seizures, with no identifiable underlying cause (tests run to exclude things that can cause a seizure), is diagnosed as an idiopathic epileptic. Most people don’t run every test known to veterinary medicine, as that’s quite expensive and probably not productive in terms of changing the treatment plan, but there are basic tests that rule out major things.

A dog experiencing repeated seizures over time is called an epileptic – but could be primary (idiopathic) or secondary epilepsy (caused by something, such as a tumor, etc).

When we see idiopathic epilepsy in dogs in their prime – 1-5yrs – when they should be healthy and have no problems, tests show no underlying cause, it is generally assumed they have inherited “something” that is allowing them to seize.

Article by Liz Hansen – Animal Molecular Genetics Laboratory University of Missouri – College of Veterinary Medicine

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