There is no test to confirm the diagnosis of epilepsy. The selection of appropriate diagnostic tests is important in ruling out underlying causes of seizures. Routine haematological and biochemical screening is usually performed to rule out metabolic causes eg electrolyte abnormalities, hypoglycaemia and hepatic disease (pre- and post-prandial bile salts). Hypothyroidism may occur in association with epilepsy and although it is not an accepted cause of seizure activity, its presence may make seizure control more difficult. Testing of Total T4, Free T4 and endogenous TSH, may be appropriate. A full database should also include routine urinalysis. Serological testing for infectious causes of seizure includes Toxoplasma (IgM and IgG) and Neospora serology.
If the history suggests focal seizures there may be an increased likelihood of detecting cerebral pathology and examination of CSF may be appropriate. CSF analysis should include protein quantification, cell count, differential nucleated cell count, Distemper virus antibody titre, coronavirus antibody titre. Where possible PCR for Distemper, Toxoplasmosis, and Neosporosis should also be performed. Access to electroencephalography (EEG) is not commonly available and is rarely helpful in seizuring dogs.
Image: Sample of CSF from a dog with CNS lymphoma - courtesy of Laurent Garosi, Davies Veterinary Specialists.
Brauer C, Jambroszyk M, Tipold A (2011) Metabolic and toxic causes of canine seizure disorders: A retrospective study of 96 cases. 187(2):272-5. Epub 2009 Nov 25. - PubMed -
Gonçalves R, Anderson TJ, Innocent G, Penderis J (2010) Effect of seizures on cerebrospinal fluid analysis in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. Vet Rec. 166(16):497-8. - PubMed -
Patterson EE, Mickelson JR, Da Y, Roberts MC, McVey AS, O'Brien DP, Johnson GS, Armstrong PJ (2003) Clinical characteristics and inheritance of idiopathic epilepsy in Vizslas. JVIM 17(3), 319-25. - PubMed -
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