Epilepsy in a Poodle

Early diagnosis can lead to successful long-term management of your poodle's epilepsy.
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Witnessing your poodle having a seizure can be downright scary. Understanding the symptoms, causes and treatment can help ease your fears if your poodle is diagnosed with epilepsy. Poodles can live long-term with epilepsy, as several medications and treatments can reduce the frequency of seizures.


Seizure symptoms differ from one poodle to another. Sometimes seizures involve behavior such as acting frantic, staggering, whining, shaking, nervousness or hiding. A seizure typically lasts about one to three minutes. Afterward your poodle may appear awake but not fully responsive; he may be disoriented until he fully comes out of the seizure. If your poodle is experiencing any of these symptoms, take him to the vet or a canine neurologist for a physical.

Definition and Causes

Epilepsy is defined as a condition where your dog has multiple seizures. Poodles mostly experience idiopathic epilepsy, which means the cause is unknown. The Poodle Epilepsy Project study found that standard poodles might have a genetic predisposition to epilepsy if both parents pass a recessive gene to their puppies. Other factors such as brain damage, disease or a tumor may cause epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy can affect all poodle breeds: toy, miniature and standard.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Epilepsy is not an easy condition to diagnosis. It is often diagnosed only after other conditions are ruled out. If your poodle is having seizures, take note of when they occur and their length and frequency, as well as of your poodle’s behavior before and after.

Tests such as electroencephalogramy, magnetic resonance imaging, CT brain scans, spinal taps, urine testing and blood testing may confirm diagnosis. Anticonvulsant medication is often effective in controlling epilepsy. Other treatment possibilities include surgery and dietary changes.

Poodle Epilepsy Studies

Several nationwide studies focus on poodle epilepsy. The Poodle Club of America administers a health survey that collects information about all poodle breeds and guides funding. The PCA has contributed to funding of the Poodle Epilepsy Project, a Florida State University study that focuses on idiopathic epilepsy in all types of poodles. If you are interested in having your poodle participate, you can provide researchers with information on your poodle’s pedigree and health. A DNA sample may be required. Call 850-644-6272 or email [email protected] to participate in the Poodle Epilepsy Project.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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