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Epilepsy Project

Breeds under study for this project:
Belgian Tervuren, Belgian Sheepdog, English Mastiff, Giant Schnauzer, Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle

Please Note:
The buccal swab kit and/or blood sample you submit is for participation in a research study only.
This research does NOT test to verify if your dog does or does not have the disease.
All sample submissions are kept confidential and results for individual dogs will NOT be made available.


What is Epilepsy?

A condition involving recurrent seizures, which are convulsions caused by abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain. Seizures may last from seconds to minutes, and may include jerking of the limbs, anxiety, salivating, vocalizing, and loss of bodily functions (urinating/defecating).   Epilepsy can be caused by metabolic disorders, infectious diseases, brain injury, toxins, or brain tumors. In dogs, idiopathic (or inherited) epilepsy refers to a genetic seizure condition of unknown cause.  Since a dog with idiopathic epilepsy shows no recognizable abnormalities, it is assumed to be an inherited condition in most breeds and has been demonstrated to be heritable in some breeds.  Treatment of seizures is usually two-fold which includes treatment of the underlying problem (infection, tumor, injury) and reducing or eliminating the seizure episodes with anticonvulsant medication. The FAQs link will answer many of your questions regarding the study.  We appreciate your support and interest in the study.

For detailed information about canine epilepsy and seizures, please visit the following link to Understanding Your Pet’s Epilepsy from Dr. Dennis O’Brien at the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine.

Genotype Data

If your dog has genotype data in the form of a zip file (tfam/tped files) and you would be willing to send the data to our study, please email the file to jmbelanger@ucdavis.edu Please include a health questionnaire with each dog’s data file submission.  Owners who submit genotyping data are encouraged to submit a DNA sample from their dog(s) so that we may have a DNA sample in our laboratory for more in depth genotyping analysis.

A Note Regarding Submission of Blood Samples

  • Although we continue to collect DNA from buccal swab samples, newer research technologies prefer DNA extracted from blood samples. Thus, we are seeking blood samples from affected and unaffected dogs. Affected dogs with veterinary diagnosis can be submitted from dogs of any age. We also need samples from dogs over the age of 7 years (the older, the better) who are free from the disease under study.
  • There is no fee for participating in this study although the owner bears the cost of blood collection and shipping of the sample to the laboratory. Some veterinarians may collect and ship samples at no charge for research purposes – please check with your veterinarian. 
  • In the event that your dog’s DNA from the blood sample is used directly in the development of a commercially available diagnostic test developed by this laboratory, the results of the test for that dog will be provided at no cost upon your written request following the availability of that commercial test.
  • Please note UC Davis Campus Holidays and Closures when sending a blood sample.
All disease information referenced from:
UC Davis Book of Dogs
A Complete Medical Reference Guide for Dogs and Puppies
by the Faculty and Staff, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis ;
edited by Mordecai Siegal, consulting editor, Jeffrey E. Barlough. 1st ed. New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 1995.