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Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome in the Norwich terrier dog breed
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Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome in the Norwich terrier dog breed

Dogs
Health & Safety

The Norwich terrier is a UK native dog breed that originates right here in Britain, but that is much rarer today than it was historically, with only a small number of dogs of the breed owned in the UK. The Kennel Club recognises the Norwich terrier on their list of vulnerable native dog breeds, which reflects the very real risk that the breed might die out entirely in future years if efforts are not made to increase the breed’s stock numbers.

If you are looking to buy a terrier as a pet, it is always a good idea to check out some of the rarer and less well-known breeds when narrowing down your choices, as well as some of the most popular and widely-owned terrier type dogs too. Norwich terriers have a lot to recommend them as pets and companions, including their intelligence, ease of training, fun, outgoing natures and energetic enthusiasm for life.

However, managing and handling terriers will certainly keep any owner on their toes, so you need to be sure about what you are getting in to before you commit to a purchase. Researching the temperament of any dog you are thinking of buying is vital, but it is also important to look at other factors too – such a how healthy dogs of the breed you are thinking about tend to be.

Norwich terriers tend to be fairly long lived, with an average lifespan of around 12-16 years when properly cared for. However, there are a small number of hereditary health issues that can affect dogs of the breed that potential Norwich terrier buyers should be aware of, and one of these is canine epileptoid cramping syndrome.

In this article we will look at canine epileptoid cramping syndrome in the Norwich terrier in more detail, examining its effects, symptoms and causes. Read on to learn more.

What is canine epileptoid cramping syndrome?

Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome is also sometimes known as Spike’s disease, and this leads to a range of symptoms in affected dogs that can vary from problems moving and walking normally to involuntary muscle contractions in the neck, back and abdomen, which results in abnormal movements and rigidity of the limbs.

Attacks of this type tend to be episodic and can vary in length from just a few seconds in duration up to around thirty minutes or even longer, and which may cause the dog in question pain.

However, unlike epilepsy in dogs, a dog with canine epileptoid cramping syndrome won’t black out, fit, or lose consciousness during an attack, and will remain conscious of what is going on around them and may still respond to stimulus.

Why are Norwich terriers at risk of developing canine epileptoid cramping syndrome?

Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome is a hereditary health condition, which means that in order for a dog to be affected by it, they need to inherit a predisposition for it from their parents. We aren’t exactly sure of the genetic problem or gene mutation that causes canine epileptoid cramping syndrome to develop in the first place, but the mode of heredity is thought to be autosomal recessive and to have become somewhat disseminated across the UK’s remaining stock of Norwich terrier dogs.

Generally, dogs are aged between around two and six years old when they first begin to show symptoms of the condition, although cases have also been recorded well outside of these norms, as early as just a few months old and as late as ten years old. Males and females are equally likely to be affected, and canine epileptoid cramping syndrome can also be found within some Border terrier breed lines too.

What are the symptoms of canine epileptoid cramping syndrome?

Your vet will need to examine your dog and run some tests to make a formal diagnosis of canine epileptoid cramping syndrome, but some of the symptoms of the condition that you may see in your own dog and that warrant further investigation include:

  • Muscle cramps, which tend to be worst in the back legs and can even cause the dog’s tail to curl.
  • Muscle tremors or trembling, which can make it hard for the dog to walk.
  • Discomfort and general restlessness, which may cause the dog to stretch their legs a lot.
  • In some cases, affected dogs might not be able to stand up during an attack.
  • Noisy digestive sounds.
  • Hypersalivation, or licking the lips a lot.
  • Notably, dogs undergoing an attack do not lose consciousness.

Can canine epileptoid cramping syndrome be treated or cured?

Managing canine epileptoid cramping syndrome on an ongoing basis is something that needs to be tailored to match the requirements of each affected dog, and that may involve some amount of trial and error.

Medications to relax the muscles and ease the pain of cramps may be used during attacks, and interestingly, dietary changes to a sensitivity or low-allergen food has also been found to greatly reduce symptoms in some dogs too, as well as to slow down the frequency of attacks.

Ultimately, there is no cure for canine epileptoid cramping syndrome, although it can generally be kept under control. Affected dogs should not be bred from, due to the hereditary nature of the condition.

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