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Companion Animal Practice
Seizures: intracranial or extracranial disease?
  1. Kate Chandler

    Kate Chandler graduated from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in 1995. She holds the European diploma in veterinary neurology and a PhD for studies on GABA receptor function in status epilepticus. She is currently a lecturer in neurology and neurosurgery at the RVC. She also runs a canine EEG clinic as part of the College's epilepsy clinic.

  2. Holger Volk

    Holger Volk graduated from Hanover Veterinary School, Germany, in 2001. He holds a PhD for studies on the underlying mechanisms of pharmacoresistant epilepsy. He subsequently completed an internship and residency in neurology and neurosurgery at the RVC. He is currently a lecturer in neurology and neurosurgery at the RVC.


EPILEPSY, or the propensity to have recurrent seizures, is the most common chronic neurological disorder in dogs, with an estimated prevalence of between 0·5 and 5·7 per cent. There are numerous primary intracranial diseases and extracranial (eg, metabolic or toxic) conditions that cause recurrent seizures, although idiopathic epilepsy is the most common in dogs. Metabolic and toxic disorders are much less frequent causes of seizures. This article discusses the importance of a methodical diagnostic work-up in successfully reaching a definitive diagnosis in patients with recurrent seizures. At first glance, there may be little clinical information to differentiate between intracranial and extracranial causes of seizures but, with careful history taking, examination and a systematic approach to diagnosis, the underlying aetiology can usually be identified.

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