FSSA Late Onset Seizure Disorder Data Collection

FSSA Submission to Seizure Database Form

Some time ago, in the FSSA newsletter, several Field Spaniel breeders and owners wrote about their experience with dogs they have owned, that developed what can best be described as late onset seizure disorder. As a breeder, and owner of several of these lovely dogs, I can honestly say that in 1998, when I first became involved with this breed, I had never heard of this being an issue in the breed. I believe that part of the reason for this back then, was there was less ease of communication, as well as fear of blame and repercussion to kennels. Hopefully, like evolving communication, we as breeders and owners have also evolved. If we truly love this breed, we have to be willing to openly give information to try to find an answer to some of our health issues. Only a few years ago, when an ancestor of my line developed seizures, many vets felt that a dog that developed seizures after the age of six was likely not related to a genetic component. As time went by, and more data was collected, views began to change. Some studies have called this type of seizure “cryptogenic” or not necessarily genetic and caused by some other reason. Many are simply labeled idiopathic, or no known cause. Another view is possibly a condition called low threshold disorder. We really don't know, and this is something we need to know. This is a problem that can hide in any line for generations. No one is to blame. How can blame be placed for something that is not understood? We as breeders have progressed over the years. Many, if not most of us OFA X-ray our dogs for hip and elbow dysplasia. We check for thyroid, cardiac and eye conditions. Does breeding only OFA hip passing dogs guarantee puppies with passing hips? The answer is no, it does not. We hedge our bets and hope to improve our odds. When dealing with late onset seizures, we are blind. Many of us study pedigrees and try to breed to dogs we “think” may be clear or free of this issue, but in truth, we are guessing. If this problem reared its ugly head by the age of 4, it would be easy. Simply don't breed affected dogs. However, it's not easy. Our breed doesn't develop this until long after we breed at the age of 7 to 10 years or older. By this time our dogs can be grandparents. After having dealt with this with three of my own dogs, I know how important collecting information is on this issue. Eventually, with data, we may be able to combine with other affected breeds to study this, and maybe, just maybe isolate a cause, whether it be genetic, low threshold, or some other reason. If there is no beginning, there will never be an end. I implore all breeders and owners to participate, and complete the form here. Email a scanned copy, or snail mail it to either Sally Stebbins or myself. Help us to help our breed.

With Utmost Sincerity,
Patricia Williams
FSSA Health Committee