OBJECTIVES: To identify and treat a range of abnormal behavior, including tail chasing, unprovoked aggression, and extreme irrational fear, in Bull Terriers and to correlate the behavioral signs with electroencephalogram (EEG) or anatomic evidence of abnormal brain geometry or deafness.
DESIGN: Prospective clinical study.
ANIMALS: 8 affected and 5 unaffected (control) Bull Terriers.
PROCEDURE: All dogs were examined neurologically, including use of EEG, brainstem auditory-evoked response, and computed tomography or postmortem examination of the brain. In addition, plasma concentrations of zinc, copper, and iron, and the activity of zinc- and copper-dependent enzymes (alkaline phosphatase and ceruplasmin oxidase) were measured in affected and control dogs.
RESULTS: An abnormal EEG was found in 7 of 7 affected dogs and in none of the control dogs subjected to this examination. Seven of 8 affected dogs and 2 of 3 controls had various degrees of hydrocephalus. Metal ion and enzyme concentrations were not different between affected and control dogs. Treatment with phenobarbital was effective in 5 of 7 dogs.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Bull Terriers with compulsive tail chasing and extreme affective disorders should be regarded as neurologically disturbed, with partial seizures perhaps underlying their behavior. Treatment with anti-convulsants is a logical first step in treatment.
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