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Survey into Episodic fits in Border Terriers (aka Spikes Disease, Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome, CECS etc)

Professor Steve Dean BvetMed, DVR, MRCVS, who is the Breed Health Co-ordinator for all 7 UK Border Terrier clubs, has asked that the clubs draw attention to a survey being undertaken by a group of veterinary neurologists (Dr. K. Marioni-Henry, Dr. Holger Volk and Dr. Clare Rusbridge) working variously in academia and private practice in the UK, who have launched the survey as an aid to a study into the characterisation of epileptoid episodes in Border Terriers.


Professor Dean has been discussing this over the last few months with Holger Volk and Katia Marioni (the former is based at the Royal Vet College) and has met with them, helping them with a questionnaire which is now available on the link below.

The ambition of the neurologists is to try to determine if there is any true pattern to the various reported symptoms and thus establish if this is a specific condition or alternatively a collection of cases with vague symptoms. This has always been necessary because the gathering of cases on previous websites has resulted in a somewhat confusing collection of symptoms and has not proved scientifically meaningful to the neurologists.

As you will see, the belief is that this is a neurological condition and it has for some time been suspected that CECS was a form of seizure and not simply a cramping of muscles etc. It is Professor Dean's view that we should support this study as, unlike some other schemes, this might reveal some scientifically valid information so that we are enabled as a breed to go to the next step if indeed there is a next step. It is therefore suggested that we give this project official support from the clubs and on the various Border Terrier websites and that we encourage people to fill in the questionnaire on facebook. This project, it is believed, provides the breed with professional support on this issue - something we have long needed.

The veterinary neurologists write regarding their questionnaire, which is an aid to a study into the characterisation of epileptoid episodes in Border Terriers:-

"We are a group of veterinary neurologists working in academia and private practice in the UK and are interested in learning more about some episodic fits that seem to affect Border Terriers. In the past this condition has been called Spike's disease and most recently the term Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome (CECS) has been proposed in an attempt to describe this type of fits. The fits associated with CECS are usually characterized by episodic tremors or muscle spasms affecting part or the whole of the body, with staggering and inability to stand. The episodes may differ considerably in presentation, therefore, we ask you to complete the following survey if your dog has any type of episodic fits. Our overall objective is to enhance understanding of this condition to improve the outcome of clinical treatments. These fits appear to be benign and have been reported by owners of Border terriers in Europe and North America; however, there are NO scientific studies on this condition and we are concerned that this may lead to disinformation and mistreatment."

Box 12

You will see a box on the questionnaire that will allow Professor Dean separate confidential access to the data as it comes in and The Southern Border Terrier Club asks that anyone who completes the questionnaire ticks "YES" to question 12 which asks:-

"Are you willing that the information provided within this questionnaire will be accessible for the UK Border Terrier Clubs' Health representative as part of the UK Border Terrier Health Survey?"

Ongoing Survey into overall Breed Health

As discussed above, Professor Dean has been conducting a Breed Health Survey for many years, which is fully supported by The Southern Border Terrier Club and indeed all 7 UK Border Terrier clubs. The information gathered from this new survey by the neurologists will be confidential and Professor Dean will be the only one with whom the data will be shared, if you tick yes to box 12.

Professor Dean gives the Border Terrier Clubs an update each year into the overall health of Border Terriers and his yearly Health report can be found in Border Terrier Club's Year Book; this year's report will shortly be included on our website.

The seven Border Terrier Clubs' health survey questionnaire can be found above or can be emailed to you by our Secretary - please contact her at

Another vet (Laurent Garosi) is planning to gather information and has already started doing so with some veterinary surgeons. This particular information gathering does not yet have the support of the Southern Border Terrier Club, until we have, through our Breed Health Co-ordinator, had a chance to understand exactly what Laurent Garosi is doing we are asked to recommend holding off giving this survey any data and retract any permission that may already have been given to veterinary surgeons to supply information.

Back to the Breed Health Page

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