Definition of Narcolepsy
Dogs are infamous for their napping habits. However, sometimes they develop abnormal daytime sleepiness, which is called narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is caused by some disorder of the mechanisms that control sleep – especially the state of deep sleep, also known as rapid eye movements or REM. It probably is genetic in origin. The sleep-wake cycle is disrupted in dogs with narcolepsy, causing tiredness, lethargy, abrupt daytime sleep during normal waking hours and temporary muscle paralysis, collapse or unconsciousness. Most affected dogs recover spontaneously and have no detectable ongoing medical abnormalities, although occasionally some sort of underlying brain disease is found. In most cases, narcolepsy is not life-threatening, nor is it painful. Dogs with this condition don’t even appear to know that they have it, and they typically live a full, normal, high-quality life.
Narcolepsy in dogs is thought to have a genetic component. The signs noticed by most owners are the sudden loss of muscle tone and control, called cataplexy. Most affected dogs have no medically detectable central nervous system abnormalities, although rarely some sort of underlying brain disease is found. An inherited form of the disease has been identified in a family of Doberman Pinschers. The gene thought to be responsible for their hereditary disorder involves an
Dogs are infamous for their frequent napping habits. While naps are quite normal for domestic dogs, sometimes excessive daytime sleepiness is caused by a medical condition called narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a syndrome in which the sleep-wake cycle is disrupted, causing tiredness, lethargy and brief periods of muscle paralysis or unconsciousness.Dogs suffering from narcolepsy periodically (and abruptly) fall into a state of deep sleep during normal waking hours. They often become partially or completely immobilized, and
There is no one simple test that can be performed to rule out or confirm a diagnosis of narcolepsy in companion dogs. The veterinarian must rule out a number of other disorders, including primary organic brain disease and other conditions that can cause sleepiness, spasms or seizures such as epilepsy, myasthenia gravis, diabetes and assorted metabolic abnormalities. An initial general database is almost always obtained when a dog comes to the veterinary clinic with a
Treatment is generally only considered if a dog has repeated attacks that interfere with its safety or lifestyle. Narcoleptic episodes themselves do not harm a dog’s health. However, they can occur at inopportune times. Narcoleptic dogs that cannot be regularly supervised may be placed on management therapies.The current medical protocol for dogs with narcolepsy is oral administration of tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs block cellular uptake of certain neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, and are quite effective at