Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome - DOGS WITH EPILEPSY

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Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome


Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS), also known as Spike's Disease, is a hereditary canine disease with similarities to canine epilepsy, and is often associated with Border Terriers. CECS is a recently recognized problem which is theorised as being a metabolic, neurological or muscle disorder, but the cause has not yet been identified.

In 1996, Joke Miedema, a Dutch Border Terrier owner, acquired a puppy named Roughmoor Blue Spike (known as Spike). About a year later, the dog began exhibiting strange symptoms, starting with apparent absentness and occasional staggering. In 2000, Spike began exhibiting more severe symptoms including cramping and epileptic-like fits; tests performed at Utrecht University in 2002 determined that the dog did not have epilepsy.

In 1997, German veterinarian and Border Terrier breeder Diana Plange began receiving calls from people who owned dogs bred by Plange, reporting epileptic-like symptoms. Plange examined more than 100 Border Terriers, eventually determining that the condition was probably hereditary. Other researchers began to be involved, and several lines of Border Terriers originating in the UK and America were suspected as carriers.

By the end of 2001, Spike was having 2–3 epileptoid episodes per week. Owners of cramping dogs began to connect via Internet groups, including a support group started by Miedema; the condition came to be known as "Spike's Disease. In the spring of 2003, Diana Plange gave the condition the descriptive name Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome.

Breed lines of suspected carriers began to be documented; the first identifiable sufferer was dated to 1974


As of 2008, the mode of inheritance has not been determined.

Symptoms include:

cramping (often followed by exaggerated stretching)
unusually slow or methodical walking
borborygmus and/or intestinal cramping
muscle contractions

Dogs typically remain alert and responsive during episodes that can last from a few seconds to several minutes. In some dogs, one or two episodes are seen followed by long-term or permanent remission. In others, episodes may be frequent or progressive in frequency and duration.


There is currently no known cure for CECS, but some owners have had success with drug and diet therapies.

Diazepam and Clorazepate Dipotassium have been used successfully to alleviate cramping in some cases, but have also failed to help in other cases. Scopolamine (Buscopan) rectal suppositories or injections and Gaviscon have been used to alleviate intestinal symptoms.

Some owners have had varying levels of success with dietary changes. In most cases, a gluten-free and/or raw diet is recommended, while some recommend avoiding dairy, eggs, soy, beef, corn, rice, and artificial flavours and colours. Other owners report success with commercial hypoallergenic formula feeds.


Research is currently being conducted to discover the genetic basis of CECS; to develop a diagnostic test or tests; and to find cures or treatments. Studies are underway at the University of Utrecht, and at the University of Missouri’s Canine Epilepsy Network.


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