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Understanding your dog’s epilepsy

Epilepsy can be broadly categorised into two types: primary (or idiopathic) and secondary (or symptomatic).

Most dogs that are diagnosed with epilepsy have primary epilepsy, where no underlying cause for the seizures is found. These dogs will be healthy and completely normal in all other respects.

Unfortunately, there is no single test that can determine if your dog has primary epilepsy. Instead, your vet will make a diagnosis by listening to your description of what happens during your dog’s seizures, examining your dog thoroughly and performing a series of blood tests to rule out secondary epilepsy (where there will be an underlying cause). It is normal for dogs with primary epilepsy to have normal test results. In some cases, your vet might suggest that your dog sees a specialist to have a brain scan (or MRI).

Primary epilepsy can affect any dog, but is more common in young (1-5 years), purebred dogs2, such as:

dog types


2. Monteiro R et al. J Small Anim Pract 2012; 53: 526–530.

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