Canine Epilepsy & Cognitive Impairment

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pug dog playing chess

Hello everyone, CEO Olivia here. I have a confession to make. I’m not always obedient & sometimes I may appear to be ignoring my HuMom.

The Royal Veterinary College of London may have an explanation. They have conducted several studies on the connection between cognitive function & epilepsy in canines. It seems that dogs with epilepsy may find it harder to obey commands, are slower to learn new tricks, have spatial memory deficits & are easily distracted.

In one study, when measured against non epileptics, dogs with epilepsy found it harder to obey a sit or stay command, were slower to learn new tricks, were more easily distracted by interesting sights, sounds or smells, & were less likely to pay attention to their human. Anti-epileptic drugs were found to worsen behavior, particularly potassium bromide & zonisamide, along with the use of multiple drugs simultaneously.

In another study, dogs with epilepsy more commonly failed to recognize familiar people, had difficulty finding food dropped on the floor, & paced or wandered without direction or purpose ( speaking personally, my meds make me pace a lot). Within the group of dogs with epilepsy, those with a history of cluster seizures or a high seizure frequency were most likely to show these signs, which may reflect progressive brain damage.

In the most recent study, dogs with epilepsy were found to show reduced performance in a spatial memory task. While most control dogs were able to immediately find a food reward in a room after a short period of ‘forgetting time’, dogs with epilepsy spent longer searching for the reward. These results are published in Veterinary Record today.  

The researchers, following the conclusion of these studies, recommend using reward-based methods when training a dog with epilepsy, & engage in brain-boosting training activities to improve their cognitive abilities.

My HuMom has always looked for ways to keep my brain sharp. I’m pretty smart & we want to keep it that way. That’s why I have puzzle games & sometimes I do a routine for a treat. She also feels all training should be reward based which is wooftastic for me. Besides, adverse training methods, such as using bark-activated collars, prong collars or verbal punishment are not effective & do more harm than good.

In closing, if you have a good dog who lives with canine epilepsy, just remember, he or she may be a bit slower & less focused than other dogs. You will need more patience, understanding & treats. Emphasis on the treats. BOL!

CEO Olivia

3 thoughts on “Canine Epilepsy & Cognitive Impairment

  1. Fascinating info! In Elsa’s case, if there’s a squirrel around, it’s next to impossible to get her to focus on anything else. She even ignored a treat held under her nose yesterday when we saw one standing in the street watching us. And she LOVES her treats! She just stood still as a statute. 😇

    Liked by 1 person

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