Retrospective multicenter evaluation of the "fly-catching syndrome" in 24 dogs: EEG, BAER, MRI, CSF findings and response to antiepileptic and antidepressant treatment

Epilepsy Behav. 2015 Dec:53:184-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2015.10.013. Epub 2015 Nov 13.


The fly-catching syndrome (FCS) is a rare canine condition of sudden, occasional, or constant episodes of biting the air. It may be accompanied by jumping, licking, and swallowing. The etiology of FCS is unknown and controversial. Various explanations for its occurrence have included epileptoid disorders such as visual cortex epileptiform disturbances and simple and complex partial seizures as well as compulsive disorders, hallucinatory behavior, and stereotypy. A retrospective multicenter analysis of 24 dogs with clinical symptoms of FCS is presented. Clinical signs at the time of presentation, the mean age at onset of the disease, the response to treatment, and the clinical outcome were recorded and analyzed in all patients. All dogs underwent clinical, neurological, and otoscopic examinations. Complete blood cell counts (CBCs) and serum chemistry panels were obtained from each dog. Diagnostic testing included MRI and EEG examinations in 21 cases, BAER in 19 cases, and CSF analysis in 20 cases. The EEG revealed spike activity in 8 (38%) of the 21 cases, 7 of which had activity in the occipital lobes. The brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) revealed three cases of bilateral deafness. The MRI revealed six cases of Chiari malformation (CM), one case of syringohydromyelia (SM), and one case of a falx cerebri meningioma. The dogs were divided into groups according to their treatment protocol. Group A included dogs treated with phenobarbital (PB), and group B consisted of dogs treated with fluoxetine (FLX). Thirty-six percent of the dogs in group A responded to PB, while 100% of the dogs in group B responded to FLX. The results suggest that FCS is more responsive to FLX than PB. However, the etiology of this behavior remains unclear in most cases.

Keywords: Behavioral disturbance; Canine; Central nervous system; Fly-catching syndrome; Obsessive–compulsive disorder; Seizures.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Dog Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dog Diseases / physiopathology
  • Dogs
  • Electroencephalography / drug effects
  • Electroencephalography / methods*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory, Brain Stem / physiology*
  • Female
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Occipital Lobe / physiopathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syndrome


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antidepressive Agents