Video: Partial Seizure in a Pug?

Sometimes vets are presented with unusual neurologic cases. Brain function in a animal is no less complex than ours but without verbal input from the patient diagnosis of diseases can be a little more tricky. Here’s a Pug owner’s home video of their pet’s complaint, and the ensuing email correspondence between vet and neuro specialist.



Pet Owner’s account

Gus has been doing this “fit” type thing for a long time now. Usually he is on the ground and it looks like he is playing a game. An episode lasts for about 2 minutes. He looks at his back legs in bewilderment.

He had a bad fall as a pup and sort of “fitted” then. I took him straight to vet but nothing showed up? Any ideas what I should do?

Vet’s Response

If its been happening for many years without progression its probably benign, and my guess is a partial focal seizure. I’ll forward the video to a neurologist in sydney.

Here’s a textbook description……..

Simple partial seizures occur without impairment of consciousness, and may emerge as focal motor, sensory, somatosensory, autonomic, and/or psychic phenomena (Schwartz-Porsche,1994). They occur infrequently in cats and dogs, and should they occur, motor signs usually predominate (twitching of individual muscle groups, tonus or clonus of an extremity, or turning of the head). Child and LeCouteur, 2003.

Will get back to ya…..

Neurologist’s interpretation

Dear Matt
Please excuse my delay in getting this too you. There are 3  or 4 possible explanations:

1. Partial seizure disorder-seems most likely as dog seems “bewildered” and  the same set of movements are seen each time and dog is normal in between. A long History makes an underlying progressive disorder unlikely.

2. Possible sleep disorder if occurs only when dog is drifting off to sleep -like hypneic jerks or possibly restless leg syndrome in people.

3. A movement disorder -dyskinesia. Poorly characterised in animals but scottie cramp and falling syndrome in CKCS are 2 examples.

4. A stereotypic behaviour or compulsive disorder (like fly catching or tail chasing)

All are difficult to duistinguish at times (would require and EEG which we dont have) during an episode.  Treatment trial with anticonvulsant may be helpful if episodes are frequent (more than 1 a month).

Hope this helps,

Georgina Child, BVSc, Diplomate ACVIM
Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH),  North Ryde, Sydney.

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3 Responses to “Video: Partial Seizure in a Pug?”

  1. Lesa Corrine says:

    Thank you Matt….very informative….do these little patients go on to have brain scans?

  2. matt says:

    They can do, Lesa, although such investigation is expensive, and if the seizure focus is small, like a scar from a fall many years earlier, it amy not even be visible with such imaging.

    Investigation is more important if the disease is progressive: seizures becoming more intense or more frequent.

    Georgina’s comment:
    The only other comment that I would make is that yes MRI is useful in dtermining whether there is an underlying structural abnormality – pugs do have a reasonable incidence of brain malformations.

  3. Lea says:

    This happens to my dog! She also suffers from a real seizure 1-2 times every 2-3 months. More so when going into heat. Vet diagnosed her with epilepsy but seizures aren’t frequent enough to medicate. Her mother and sister have them to. What we call her “restless leg syndrome” may or may not be connected to the seizures and the damage it may be having on her brain long term. What do u think?

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