A review of treatment options for behavioural manifestations of clinical anxiety as a comorbidity in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy

Publication date 23rd August 2018
Authors F Watson, Clare Rusbridge, RMA Packer, RA Casey, S Heath, HA Volk


Psychiatric comorbidities affect a large percentage of people with epilepsy and have a detrimental impact on their quality of life. Recently, behavioural comorbidities, with similar characteristics to human psychiatric diseases, have been identified in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. In particular, behaviours motivated by the fear-anxiety emotional system have been found to be associated with the occurrence of idiopathic epilepsy in both dogs receiving anti-epileptic drugs, and drug-naïve dogs. There has been little research into the relationship between epilepsy and behavioural signs, and even less into potential treatment protocols. The following article will review available literature from human medicine to describe the current state of knowledge about the bi-directional relationship between anxiety and epilepsy, draw parallels from reported anxiogenic and anxiolytic properties of anti-epileptic drugs and attempt to provide pharmaceutical and behavioural guidance for veterinary patients with epilepsy and comorbid anxiety.