Neuromuscular

This is a Neuromuscular condition.

Episodic Falling Syndrome

What is Episodic Falling Syndrome?

Best characterized in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, this disease causes episodes of spastic muscle contraction in response to stress, excitement, or exercise; fortunately these can be managed with medications and close monitoring. After a trigger, affected dogs experience a sudden stiffening of all four limbs, arched back, and exaggerated "deer-stalking" gait, and loss of balance. EFS is caused by deficiency of a protein called brevican, which has a role in controlling the speed and rate at which specific neurons in the brain and spinal cord fire. Loss of brevican leads to abnormal bursts of neuronal activity, leading to the downstream effect of spastic muscle contraction. Affected dogs usually recover within an hour of an episode, though the stiff limbs and gait may persist for several hours. However, they may overheat during an episode due to the uncontrollable muscle contractions, which could be life threatening.

What are the signs & symptoms that develop in affected dogs?

After a trigger, affected dogs experience a sudden stiffening of all four limbs, arched back, and exaggerated "deer-stalking" gait, and loss of balance. Some owners believe they are witnessing a seizure, though no loss of consciousness occurs.

When do signs and symptoms develop?

Signs first appear in puppies.

How do vets diagnose this condition?

Genetic testing, blood work, neurological tests, and clinical signs can be used to diagnose this condition.

How is this condition treated?

Affected dogs usually recover within an hour of an episode, though the stiff limbs and gait may persist for several hours. However, they may overheat during an episode due to the uncontrollable muscle contractions, which could be life threatening. Medications are available to help control symptoms.

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