Long-term outcome of dogs with epilepsy is poorly documented. This study investigated survival and prognosis in client-owned dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (n = 78) or with epilepsy with a known intracranial cause (n = 24). Selected risk factors that may influence survival time and duration were investigated. The study was retrospective and hospital-based and included follow-up questionnaires given to owners via telephone. Questions were asked about the dog’s epilepsy and treatment status, whether the patient was still alive, and, when applicable, cause of death.
Results indicated that dogs with idiopathic epilepsy had a median life span of 9.2 years, close to that reported for dogs in general, compared with 5.8 years for dogs with known intracranial disease. Neutered male dogs with idiopathic epilepsy had a significantly shorter life span than did intact males; it was hypothesized that testosterone may possess anticonvulsant properties. Dogs with epilepsy secondary to inflammatory disease had longer survival times than dogs with epilepsy caused by neoplasia, malformation, or hemorrhagic stroke.
Therapy with 2 anti-epileptic drugs did not negatively impact survival time. Death/euthanasia related to epilepsy occurred in 52% of dogs, many with histories of cluster seizures and/or status epilepticus. Data from this study may influence how clinicians advise owners about prognosis in epileptic dogs, although certain breed profiles with specific epilepsy phenotypes may not have been represented.