The Clinical and Serological Effect of a Gluten-Free Diet in Border Terriers with Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome

J Vet Intern Med. Nov-Dec 2015;29(6):1564-8. doi: 10.1111/jvim.13643. Epub 2015 Oct 25.


Background: Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome (CECS) is a paroxysmal movement disorder of Border Terriers (BTs). These dogs might respond to a gluten-free diet.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to examine the clinical and serological effect of a gluten-free diet in BTs with CECS.

Animals: Six client-owned BTs with clinically confirmed CECS.

Methods: Dogs were prospectively recruited that had at least a 6-month history of CECS based on the observed phenomenology (using video) and had exhibited at least 2 separate episodes on different days. Dogs were tested for anti-transglutaminase 2 (TG2 IgA) and anti-gliadin (AGA IgG) antibodies in the serum at presentation, and 3, 6, and 9 months after the introduction of a gluten-free diet. Duodenal biopsies were performed in 1 dog.

Results: Serum TG2 IgA titers were increased in 6/6 BTs (P = .006) and AGA IgG titers were increased in 5/6 BTs at presentation compared to those of controls (P = .018). After 9 months, there was clinical and serological improvement in all BTs with CECS strictly adhering to a gluten-free diet (5/5). One dog had persistently increased antibody titers. This dog scavenged horse manure. On the strict introduction of a gluten-free diet this dog also had an improved clinical and serological response. The diet-associated improvement was reversible in 2 dogs on completion of the study, both of which suffered a relapse of CECS on the re-introduction of gluten.

Conclusions: Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome in BTs is a gluten-sensitive movement disorder triggered and perpetuated by gluten and thus responsive to a gluten-free diet.

Keywords: Dyskinesia; Gluten hypersensitivity; Movement disorder; Neurology; Paroxysmal nonkinesigenic dyskinesia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Diet, Gluten-Free / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / blood
  • Dog Diseases / diet therapy*
  • Dog Diseases / genetics
  • Dogs
  • Dyskinesias / blood
  • Dyskinesias / diet therapy
  • Dyskinesias / genetics
  • Dyskinesias / veterinary*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease