Canine Epilepsy is a growing problem amongst many breeds of dogs, including St.
Bernards.Canine Epilepsy does not have to mean a death sentence. Many dogs
with epilepsy go on to live relatively normal lives.
Epilepsy is a symptom of an underlying neurological dysfunction occurring
within the brain. Toxic substances, metabolic or electrolyte abnormalities
or imbalances cause an uncoordinated firing of the neurons located within
the section of the brain known as the cerebrum. These episodes of uncoordinated
firing manifest themselves in the form of convulsions or seizures in which the
dog may experience mild tremors to severe thrashing movements.
Epilepsy may occur secondary to many diseases such as distemper, brain
tumors, liver or heart failure, diabetes, or as a result of exposure to toxic
substances or trauma. However, “true” epilepsy as that which occurs in
hereditary syndromes within certain breeds. As such, from a clinical standpoint,
in cases of true epilepsy, only the symptoms can be treated.
Furthermore, true epilepsy does not usually present itself, until the dog is
around 2 years or older.
Epilepsy has been found to occur in related individuals. Therefore the
assumption is made that it is a genetically inherited disease!. Currently,
there is no method for screening potential carriers of the disorder, however,
breeders seeking to produce physically sound puppies should not breed dogs
known to be afflicted with true epilepsy.