Vol. 8 No. 3 (2022)

A preliminary study on behavioral aspects in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy

Eleonora AMADEI
Independent researcher

Published 2023-10-06


  • behavioral comorbidities; cognitive bias; dog behavior; idiopathic epilepsy


Idiopathic epilepsy is considered the most common chronic neurological disease in dogs, and there is an increasing awareness regarding the behavioral impact of this disease on canine patients. This work aims at showing the potential differences in the behavioral profile and affective state of epileptic and not epileptic dogs, through the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire (CBARQ) and the judgement bias test (JBT). Thirty dogs were involved: 15 with Idiopathic epilepsy (IE), 10 under treatment with phenobarbital, five not treated; 15 controls. For each dog, the owner completed the CBARQ. Twenty-seven dogs underwent training for the JBT. All data were statistically analyzed. Dogs with IE got a strong tendency for higher scores for excitability (U=70.0; median: 2.3 versus 1.8; p=0.077) and attention-seeking behaviors (U=66.0; median: 2.7 versus 2.2; p=0.053). Moreover, epileptic dogs were less likely to pass the training phase (58.3% versus 86.7%; X2=2.8; p=0.093), but those who passed it completed the JBT similarly to non-epileptic dogs (U=33.0; p=0.618). Although further studies are needed, epileptic dogs in this study showed differences in excitability, anxiety, and trainability compared to control dogs, suggesting a trend for behavioral aspects to be better explored. Being able to recognize and manage them could have a positive impact on the welfare of these animals.