Idiopathic Epilepsy

Poodles are prone to idiopathic epilepsy, a disease that can be distressing for both dog and owner. If your poodle suffers from seizures, you'll want to take him to a veterinarian for a complete neurological work-up to try to find a cause for the seizures (like a metabolic disorder, tumor, trauma to the head, infectious disease affecting the central nervous system, or poisoning). If no cause is found, the diagnosis will be idiopathic epilepsy (epilepsy of no known cause).

While the exact mode of inheritance isn't known, researchers are working on identifying the genetic component of epilepsy in poodles. Be sure to let your breeder know about your poodle's epilepsy. This will help her with breeding decisions.

Treatment for epilepsy usually involves giving the dog a lifetime treatment of either phenobarbitol or potassium bromide. Since these drugs can have long-term side effects, veterinarians don't rush to start dogs on either one. They first monitor to make sure seizures are regular and severe enough to warrant treatment.


If your poodle has a seizure that lasts longer than 5-10 minutes, or has three or more seizures in a single day, seek veterinary assistance immediately. This condition can be life-threatening.

Acupuncture can sometimes help control seizures. If it works with your epileptic poodle, you can take it a step further and have gold beads implanted in your poodle at acupuncture points, to provide a sort of permanent acupuncture. Some owners of epileptic dogs have had success controlling seizures with gold bead implants, rather than drugs. Dr. Terry Durkes, DVM, of Marion, Indiana, is the pioneer in this field.


Dr. Barbara Licht of the Florida State University is doing research into idiopathic epilepsy in poodles. She welcomes contact from owners of poodles who have had seizures or are diagnosed with epilepsy. Contact her for advice on testing and treatment options and to learn how to participate in her research.

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