Dog ‘fly biting’: A symptom of digestive disorder or seizures?


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Dog fly-biting or fly-snapping is a canine condition wherein a dog appears to be snapping or biting at flies that are not there. It is one of the most common compulsive behaviors that a dog displays, and it is normally quite sporadic or infrequent. The dog is capable of hurting itself if it continues to display these symptoms over a long period of time.

How does it come to be?

The behavior is usually very sudden, and it is normally hard to diagnose how it comes to be. Fly-biting can be caused be genetics, epilepsy, eye problems, or digestive disorders. Most vets typically label the syndrome as an idiopathic disorder as in the cause of the syndrome is unknown. There is rising belief that the disease is a type of complex partial seizure. It could be a result of hallucinations caused by epilepsy, but it is incredibly difficult to be conclusive as we cannot receive direct answers from dogs.Ideally, the best way to be certain about the cause is to record brain waves with an EEG during a fly-biting episode. This will allow a vet to determine if there certain abnormalities in the dog's brain waves that is leading to fly-biting. However, even the most well-trained dogs are unlikely to react well to electrodes stuck to their heads. Sedation is often required, but it is known to reduce the likeliness of a dog engaging in fly-biting.

Do digestive disorders lead to fly-biting?

As of now, there is very little evidence that points to any sort of digestive disorder being the cause of fly-biting. There is more conclusive evidence that points to hereditary factors and eye problems as being possible causes of this syndrome. Researchers at the University of Montreal Veterinary Teaching Hospital have found that gastrointestinal disease could be a possible cause of fly-snapping, and it could lead to abnormal movements in your furry friend. More research is needed in this avenue to determine the role digestive problems could play in this syndrome

Partial seizures are usually the best bet

Most vets will tell you that partial seizures are likely to be the cause of fly-biting in your dog and will prescribe medicine for the same. Based on the how the canine responds to medication, your vet will be able to determine if you are dealing with epilepsy or something else. If the dog is experiencing grand-mal type seizures, it is safe to assume that is suffering from epilepsy.The response to medication approach is the best way to deal with this condition. Most vets will start of with a basic dose of anti-epileptic medicine. If the episodes are sporadic, determining the effect of the treatment can be harder and the best you can do in this case is continual monitoring of your dog to determine how you can proceed.

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