Spikes Disease

Canine Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS)

This disease can be mis-diagnosed as Epilepsy or EFS.

Lilly is an 8 years old black and tan CKCS. We saw her first cramping fit in January 2016. Not knowing what we were witnessing, we called the vet, who like us, thought it may be an Epileptic Fit or Episodic Falling Syndrome.

Fortunately we had taken a video and showed this to our neurologist (Dr. Clare Rusbridge) who diagnosed Lilly with Spikes Disease. This is also very common in Border Terriers.

On advice, we removed all gluten from Lilly’s diet. Lilly has always been very highly strung and slightly nervous and because of this we give her Valerian/Skullcap to help keep her calm.

She suffered a cluster of attacks within a few days approximately one year later.  Just prior to this we had stopped giving her the Valerian/Skullcap (we ran out!). Whether this was a coincidence we don’t know but since re-starting, and ensuring she maintains a gluten free diet, she has not had any more episodes.

Spikes Disease manifests itself in the form of involuntary muscular spasms ranging from a wobbly gait, arching back, over stretching or involuntary movements of one or more limbs..  Seizures can occur which can last anything between seconds and a few minutes. Severe episodes can last more than an hour, during which your dog will not lose consciousness.

Symptoms can be:

  • Cramping (often followed by exaggerated stretching)
  • Staggering
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Unusually slow or methodical walking
  • Intestinal cramping/ spasms based on hearing gurgling
  • Muscle contractions

Affected dogs may experience pain during the episodes.

Triggers can be:

  • Excitement
  • Stress
  • Gluten

A cure has not been discovered, but once your dog is diagnosed with Spike’s Disease, there are treatments to help you manage this condition, which should help to reduce the frequency of seizures.

To alleviate a seizure, it is likely that your vet/neurologist may prescribe diazepan to alleviate the cramps and buscopam to help the painful intestinal spasms.

  • To obtain a correct diagnosis, video an episode to show your vet or neurologist

In the long term it has been proven that you can manage the symptoms of Spike’s Disease with a gluten-free diet. Like other ailments our dogs may suffer with, they can be extremely stoic. Some dogs will go about their daily business, no matter how much pain they may be suffering.

This link relates to Border Terriers, the information is useful:
Canine Epileptoid Cramping