Border Collie Epilepsy Info

Stay up to date on research. By: Matlock-Photo/Flickr.

Canine epilepsy is an overwhelming problem and is prevalent in border collies. The incidence in this breed is significantly higher than the average dog.

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder. It is usually inherited in nature, which is why responsible breeders will eliminate all known carriers from their program. Dogs known to be epileptic or to have been the parent of a dog with epilepsy should no longer be used for breeding.

It is imperative that epileptic dogs be spayed or neutered to prevent accidental breeding, which would continue to increase the occurrence of the disease in the breed.

What Happens When a Dog Has a Seizure?

Border collie seizures can be a scary thing for those who have never witnessed one. The muscles in the dog’s jowls often tighten, causing a grimacing appearance.

The dog loses complete control and falls over, helplessly. The legs straighten out and become tense and rigid.

Your puppy’s head will twist and be flung back to where it nearly touches its spine. The jaws might begin to open and close, biting at the air, and saliva can drip from the mouth. The paws might start to move as if the dog was running. The head could possibly start making a jerking motion.

Then… the seizure stops as quickly as it began. The body relaxes again, and your pet begins to regain consciousness. That sweet companion that you love will look at you as if to say, “What are you staring at?”

There are two types of epilepsy:

  • Primary: The first seizure is usually reported between 6 months and 5 years of age. This is usually an inherited trait.
  • Secondary: The diagnosis of seizures when the veterinarian can determine a specific reason for the seizures, such as brain lesions, tumors or low blood sugar.


Phenobarbital is the most widely used medication. It’s important that liver enzymes be checked quarterly for all dogs on phenobarbital, as the medication metabolizes in the liver. There are some new studies being done with gabapentin, which is being used now for humans with great results.

book-cover-smallest1Does your dog have epilepsy? Tell us about it in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love Pets Adviser’s email newsletter. It’s free to sign up, and you’ll be among the first to get alerts about major pet food recalls. New subscribers also get instant access to our 40-page ebook — which has “secrets every cat and dog lover should know.” Learn more here.

From Around the Web



Pet Health QuizGot what it takes to give your pet a long, healthy life?

Take Pets Adviser's popular 4-minute pet health quiz now!