Do Australian Shepherds Have a Tendency for Seizures?

by Naomi Millburn
    Dogs with epilepsy often are prescribed antiepileptic medicines.

    Dogs with epilepsy often are prescribed antiepileptic medicines.

    Dean Golja/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Before you embrace an Australian shepherd into your life with wide open arms, make a strong effort to learn the dog's breed background. While it's important to know that these mid-sized canines are extremely lively and have high exercise requirements, it's also important to gain knowledge about health problems that are common for them -- think seizures.

    Epilepsy describes a brain condition that is characterized by abrupt seizures. The specific triggers of seizures are uncertain in cases of idiopathic epilepsy. Some breeds are particularly vulnerable to idiopathic epilepsy, and therefore seizures. Australian shepherds are one example of a dog breed that is genetically prone to idiopathic epilepsy and seizures, according to D. Caroline Coile, the author of "Australian Shepherds." Although epilepsy and seizures are indeed prevalent in Australian shepherds, the hereditary foundation for it isn't yet understood. Screening examinations for Australian shepherds and seizure problems do not yet exist.

    If you own an Australian shepherd, it's vital to always be attentive to any possible hints of seizures in your pooch. If your pet is on the verge of experiencing a seizure, he might seem scared and disoriented. He might behave in an unusually withdrawn manner. On the other hand, he might actively try to get your acknowledgement. When the seizure actually starts, his body might take on an unusually rigid look. He might collapse to the ground. He might seem feeble. He might shiver or drool excessively. He might even pass stools and urinate. The typical duration for seizures in canines is usually anywhere between half a minute and 90 seconds. Seek immediate veterinarian attention for any dog that displays signs of a seizure.

    Management of seizures is thought to be particularly hard for dogs of certain breeds, such as Australian shepherds, according to veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks of VeterinaryPartner.com. Veterinarians often advise these dogs to continue using seizure medications on a permanent basis. Apart from Australian shepherds, these breeds include golden retrievers, German shepherds, Saint Bernards and Siberian huskies. If your Australian shepherd has idiopathic epilepsy, your veterinarian can establish a suitable management plan for him, focusing on his well-being, comfort and overall health.

    While seizures are a big issue for many Australian shepherds, dogs of this breed also are vulnerable to a variety of other health ailments. Hereditary eye troubles, for example, frequently appear in them. Nasal solar dermatitis, canine hip dysplasia and Pelger-Huët anomaly are all common conditions for dogs of the breed. Note that Australian shepherds, however, tend to be healthy and robust animals. With good care from their owners, they frequently live for anywhere between 14 and 16 years.

    Photo Credits

    • Dean Golja/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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