from the berner-l

Flysnap seems to be relatively common in our breed, there were 66 dogs reported in the Health Survey as suffering from this, more than the number of cases of bloat (44), cruciate ligament tears (55), entropion (48), cateracts (36), malignant histiocytosis (45), mast cell tumors (44), or lymphoma/sarcoma (31), just to put it in some perspective.

My first Berner suffered from this, and in his case I'm quite sure that they were psycho-motor seizures. He would sit up and start snapping at something in the air, as though at a fly just above his head, or as though something had landed on the top of his head. The behavior would continue for up to 20 or 30 seconds, and we could usually get his attention with a loud noise and get him to stop. He had a very mild case of it. The behavior would generally occur only in the evening when he was tired. In his nearly 5 years of life, he probably did this less than 40 times. Some dogs will do it for up to an hour or more, and cannot be distracted from it. So it can be a very distressing problem.

From the experiences shared with this List, it would seem that this flysnapping is considered normally to be a psycho-motor seizure. But, we have had people treat their dog for ear mites and had the flysnapping stop. One person's dog had a tumor in the ear, once it was removed, the flysnapping stopped. Some people feel that it is a behavioral issue caused perhaps by stress or boredom, and have had some success with behavior modification techniques. Only a couple of cases have been linked to food allergies of some kind.

BERNER-L Digest 51

Date: Thu, 20 Jul 1995 09:11:23 EDT From: (MS LOUISE J WETZEL) To: Subject: Old dogs and their health Message-ID:

-- [ From: Louise Wetzel * EMC.Ver #2.10P ] --

Hi all. I just wanted to let you know how the old dog, Chelsea did at the Chiropractors last week. Dr. Lesser watched Chelsea limp along and re-adjusted her back, neck and rear end. I think it is helping her. She seems a little more comfortable getting around and has less trouble getting up and down the stairs. I know this certianly isn't going to cure her arthritis, but whatever I can do to make her more comfortable I will try. Chelsea will be nine years old in November and you wouldn't know it to look at her face, she still looks like a younger dog and has a bright eager expression. But just watch her walk and you will see just how old she really is.

Have many of you had problems with tumors? Chelsea has had four mast cell tumors taken off her in the last 4 years. Ones on her hip, stomach, elbow ( the one with the FCP) and of course the one which lost her tail. She also has had numerous cysts taken off while taking off the tumors. One of the worst times was when she had her tail amputated. It is amazing just how much these dogs rely on their tails for balance. Not only did the wound get infected, but she was so miserable without her tail. It took her quite awhile to get used to moving around without stumbling or banging into things.

Chelsea also has these little episodes where she is biting imaginary bugs on her feet. She will lay there and snap at the air or keep looking at her feet as though she has bugs on them. I know we don't have a flea or bug problem, as none of the other three dogs ever exhibit this behavior. These episodes don't last longer than a couple of days and then she forgets about the bugs. Some people have told me that it is like tiny little seizures that she is having. Anyone else have experience with this bizarre behavior?

Hope all your old dogs are doing well and we can bring them out at the next specialty to be in the "Old Dogs" parade, if the location suits us!

Louise Wetzel in NYC


BERNER-L Digest 52

Date: Thu, 20 Jul 1995 14:46:53 -0400 From: (Marjorie E. Reho) To: Subject: Re: Old dogs and their health Message-ID:

Hi all. I just wanted to let you know how the old dog,... Chelsea will be nine years old in November

Glad to hear Chelsea had positive results from her chiropractic visit. Did you read the article in the current Alpenhorn regarding trying to wish our old dogs to be younger by raising the age limits for Veterans class? We debated this issue on the floor of the National Specialty down in Atlanta and the "wishers" lost, but clearly haven't stopped. Louise makes an excellent point that at 9, Chelsea is clearly old in body, though not in spirit (way to go, Chelsea!)

Have many of you had problems with tumors? Chelsea has had four mast cell tumors taken off her in the last 4 years.

Guess we crossed e-mail. Unfortunately, I've learned a lot about tumors.

Chelsea also has these little episodes where she is biting imaginary bugs on her feet. Anyone else have experience with this bizarre behavior?

This behavior even has a name: "Fly snapping syndrome", and it has been identified as a mild form of epilepsy. What brings it on, I'm not sure anyone knows. Why it disappears for days or weeks at a time, I haven't seen any answers there either. Apparantly if bad enough, standard seizure-preventative drugs can be used, but I know little about the drug end. It is genetic, from what I've read and seen, and can be tied in with more accute forms of epilepsy in a litter.

Margie Reho and the Dallybeck crew in Virginia


BERNER-L Digest 315

Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 10:30:12 -0400 From: To: Subject: Re: intro/fly catching syndrome Message-ID:

Good morning fellow Berner lovers,

May I introduce myself?? My name is Avery. My two berners Charlotte (2/1/2), a Tallpines dog, and Jiggs (first birthday last week) a Thistlebrook dog, are presently snoozing coolly deep in the Maine dirt beneath my back porch.

I am pleased to be a new subscriber to this list and look forward to meeting and discussing any and all Berner topics.

As a first question, I wonder if anyone has read Bev Burney's recent note about "fly catching syndrome" in the newest Bernergaard and has anything to say about this remedy -- (Ivomec cattle wormer 2cc deep into the ear canal) or Bev, if you are online -- . My 2/1/2 yr old does have this syndrome I think... At present its not severe but, I'm worried about it as all I've read is that it is neurological and seizure related. Unfortunately, my vet isn't particularly helpful - he's not really Berner savvy (but that's a whole different topic).

Any thoughts, references advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Sincerely, Avery Larned AvLarned@AOL.COM


Date: Tue, 21 May 1996 11:51:57 -0500 (CDT) From: (susan ablon) To: Subject: Re: intro/fly catching syndrome Message-ID:

True fly snap syndrome is a psycho motor seizure that varies in severity to mildly annoying to down right frightening. The dog responds to a varity of unseen sensory stimuli including taste sight feel and hearing. I have a dog with this syndrome and have seen him snap at unseen bugs smack his lips at nonexistent goodies jump up and look for the mystery hand that appears to have goosed him and start barking at nothing in the window. Over all his behavior is not severe and so I do not treat it. There are dogs that continuously have reactions to nothing and these dogs very well may need treatment with anti seizure meds. Diagnosis is usually made by description of symptoms.

I read the article about Ivormectin but can not speak to the effectiveness of it in the ear canal to rid this condition as I always thought it to be neurological in nature. If anyone has actually done this with a dog with confirmed fly snap and it has worked please share your experiences with me. Susan Ablon Tx


BERNER-L Digest 316

Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 09:42:47 -0500 (CDT) From: "Mary Ann E. Sontag" To: Subject: Biting Flies Message-ID:

I am also interested in learning more about the biting flies thing. how does one know the difference between a dog that is biting at floating dust particles (or whatever else is in the air) or has this syndrome? Is it genetic? If it is neurological in nature, how can ear mite medicine work? Does its presence preclude a dog from a breeding program? Finally, does it have an official name so I can do a literature search on it?

Thanks, in advance, for info.

I also want to respond to the post about the difficulties of obtaining a puppy. I am sorry about the unfortunate experience but have heard of that happening to other people. I tell people that in order to get a puppy you almost have to promise your first born (since mine is now a teenager I am willing to send her off in exchange for a nice fuzzy puppy -- just kidding, I think). It is a fine line between being a discriminating breeder and being exclusive and snotty. Glad I don't have to do it!!

Now that I have two berners I rarely get people who think they are mixed breeds but when I had just one it was a frequent event. My favorite was a man who asked me "is that a cross between a St. bernard and a beagle?" Now just think about that for a moment!!

Mary-Ann Sontag Emma and Darcy -- a matched set


Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 15:17:02 -0400 From: To: Subject: Re: Fly Biting Message-ID:

My male, Hannibal, did the fly biting on numerous occasions, we didn't really think too much about it at the time. He usually did it in summer, and since he got flea-bite dermatitis we just thought he was having some sort of sesitive reaction to something. However, he did have a grand-mal seizure, just once, and the vet could find no probable cause, it was just before he ate dinner, in summer, after moderate exercise, so we figured maybe his electrolytes were out of whack. So maybe there is a neurologic cause for some fly-biting behavior.

Pat Long, Vesta & Maggie, (Sam & Luther) Cooler in Philadelphia PA


Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 15:49:23 -0400 From: To: Subject: Psychomotor Seizures Message-ID:

It is my understanding that "fly biting or snapping" syndrome is a psychomotor seizure. Just because a dog snaps in the air does not mean he has fly snapping syndrome. Dogs do go after flys that are bothering them and some are pretty hard to see. If your dog is snapping at the air and there isn't anything around, then there is a possiblity. Most of the dogs I have seen have mild periodic cases but I know of one dog that is on phenobarbital to control the seizures. I have seen closely related dogs with the problem so I would be suspecious of a possible genetic basis. Epileptic seizures have been determined to be inherited in some breeds. I really haven't come across studies one way or the other for psychomotor seizure.

From Handbook of Veterinary Neurology, by Oliver and Lorenz, "Psychomotor seizures(partial seizures wit complex symptomatology, behavioral seizures, emotional disorders) are paroxysmal episodes of abnormal behavior. Examples include hysteria, rage autonomic reactions(such as salivations), and hallucinations(such as "fly biting")."

Sincerely, Eden Jonas Black Forest, CO


Date: Wed, 22 May 1996 23:02:21 -0400 From: To: Subject: Fly snap syndrome Message-ID:

I would love to know more about "FLy Snap SYndrome". Caymus has it very occasionally,it seems when he is stressed! For instance,last summer our house was under construction and the heat wave was so bad,I thought it best for all three dogs to come to Nantucket for the month with us,even though our house is small,and so is the yard,but we had AC.Two boys wanted to come visit,so I struck a deal.pick up the two dogs, our car,and drive three hours to a small airport,where a friend will be waiting in his plane.20minutes later,I was standing on the runway,and saw this plane coming at me with the side windows open and Caymus hanging out one window and MOOMOO out the other.It was a pretty funny sight!The two boys looked like the man in the shaggy dog movie when he was growing hair. To make a very long story short,Caymus was snapping at all kinds of things for about a day afterward,and on several other nerveracking occasions,he has done it again. WHat do the doctors say is the cause of this?I thought it was only my crazy dog?Is it a dangerous situation?I would be grateful to hear from anyone.MOO MOO,of course,took it all in stride.Caymus has flown several times before,on small planes,right behind me in the last row,he has his wings! Tailwags, Daisy and the Mooseman(I hate flies,real or not)


BERNER-L Digest 319

Date: Sat, 25 May 1996 10:29:08 -0700 From: (Melissa Bartlett) To: Subject: Re: Psychomotor Seizures Message-ID:

Eden's point is well taken. Sometimes dogs 'flysnap' because of seizures, sometimes because of real flies and sometimes because of noises that sound like flies to them. This latter is the case when dogs have ear mites which are so deep they are difficult to find. Thats why the Ivermectin works in those cases. It kills the mites, stops the mite-y noises and the dog doesn't try to flysnap.

I've also heard about one dog on a medication which sometimes causes humans to see 'spots' in front of their eyes. The dog apparent saw spots too and reacted with fly-snap behavior.

yrs melissa bartlett


BERNER-L Digest 320

Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 20:50:13 -0700 From: (cathy burlile ) To: Subject: Re: intro/fly catching syndrome Message-ID:

Hi Avery,

I have personally seen this in one dog; had two puppies I placed manifest this and saw my male do it once.

The scenarios for the above-mentioned dogs are: The one dog that I personally saw had an ear infection that was treated and the fly-snapping resolved. Anytime after though that she heard a "real" fly/bee/buzz, she'd jump up and tuck her tail and try to move away from the critter.

Both puppies that exhibited fly-snapping were ultimately diagnosed with very low grade yeast ear infections. One of these puppies, it took months for me and the owner to convince the vet to do a culture/sensitivity for the ears. He was convinced that she should be taken to a neuro vet and a workup completed. Both of these dogs never exhibited this behavior since.

My male exhibited a fly-snapping behavior after he was given a "load dose" of Primor for an infection he had. He was given the load dose at the vet's. Upon returning home, he started acting like someone that would be "tripping" and we returned to the vet. He was given something for this and I've never seen it again.

There have been two other Berners that I have known of that were also diagnosed with "ear problems." When these were cleared up, so was the fly-snapping.

I do believe there are some Berners that actually have a neurological problem (psychomotor seizures) that cause this behavior. My theory on the ear problems "causing" Berners to exhibit this behavior has to do with my own experience with inner ear infections. I think that certain ear infections can cause a "ringing" in the ear. You can't tell a dog that he's really not hearing a fly, bee, buzz and that it's just his ear infection. It must drive them crazy!

As for Bev Burney's treatment, I've never tried it so I can't comment one way or another. Ivomec is used for a multitude of parasites including heartworms and mange mites. Check with your vet and ask him to do a culture of their ears if the problem persists.

Tailwags, Cathy Burlile, Memories BMDs Ashland City, TN


BERNER-L Digest 323

Date: 29 May 96 04:04:25 EDT From: "LAUREL S. CAIN" To: BERNER-L Subject: Fly Snapping and Comic Relief Message-ID:

Okay, everyone--how do you think it might feel to be surrounded by a group of high level veterinary neurologists who are laughing directly at you over the question you just asked.....oh well, it's not like I haven't been worthy of a giggle or two before....

Needless to say, by posing the question at our annual Internal Medicine meeting s over whether Fly snapping behavior syndrome was brought on by a "deep seated ea r mite" or not and what the general consensus of these specialists was on the thought of instilling Ivermectin in the ear canal, I instantly became a source of amusement.

I'll try to explain why--TRUE fly-snapping behavior is a psychomotor seizure--a seizure arising from the temporal (limbic) lobe of the brain, where the manifestation of the seizure is abnormal activity--a psychosis. Quoting from Current Vet. Therapy VIII--"Dogs and cats sometimes do not have a sense of what is real and what is not or what is reasonable and what is not. Some animals seem to see things that are not there or respond to stimuli that do not exist. This psychosis appears at a few weeks to a few years of age, sometimes, but not often, triggered by an actual event. The "fly catching" syndrome is a good example. Sufferers spend most of their lives staring intently into the middle distance and frequently reaching forward with their head to snap their jaws closed as if there were some flying organism there to be consumed."

The diagnosis is made based on the above symptoms and ruling out all other problems, such as ear infections, ear mites, etc, based on clinical tests. Treatment often mimics other seizure problem by requiring anticonvulsants or hormonal therapy to blunt this abnormal behavior.

Ivermectin is a drug used commonly in large animal species, and off-label in small animal species to kill parasites. The standard dosage is 300 mcg/kg give n by subcutaneous injection in small animals--this translates to roughly 0.01cc per lb. Ivermectin works by increasing the release and binding capacity of a neurotransmitter chemical named GABA in the central nervous system. This is an inhibitory NT (neurotransmitter), which results in neurological depression by reducing information flow at nerve junctions, and this drug can be given this way to treat parasite-infested mammals, as it has poor access to the central nervous system of the mammal, but penetrates easily into the parasite's--paralyzing and killing it.

Essentially, this product is a neurotoxin. It is used with extreme toxin in Collies and collie-crosses, as they seem to experience more rapid and easy penetration of this drug into their brain--via the blood stream. Clinical sign s of toxicity include dilated pupils, depression, tremors, ataxia (imbalance), stupor, vomiting, drooling, coma and death.

Putting this drug down deep in the ear canal, is basically asking to get high levels of the drug in the CNS, as this would definitely improve penetration through the middle and inner ear. Additionally, it is not likely that the people using this drug would be using the tiny doses referred to above, to plac e in the ear--rather larger doses to try to kill their dog's "purported mite". Treatment of the ivermectin-induced toxicity is basically supportive--a few medications may be useful in treating the overdose.

I guess I would never put my dogs at risk, by using a known neuro toxin to wor k as a preventative or treatment in their ears. Just way too close to the CNS.

Soooo, the doctors all laughed--thank God I don't mind it too much. But, one neuro specialist did recover adequately for me to verity what was so amusing. He did state that if the BMDCA or local club desires to subsidize it, he'd be willing to do a study (only joking, mind you!!!).

Hopefully this sheds some light on the Fly Snapping Controversy and Ivermectin,

Laurel S. Cain, Dogidoc


BERNER-L Digest 325

Date: Fri, 31 May 1996 08:28 -0500 (EST) From: susan_vanocker@Merck.Com (Susan Vanocker) To: "'Berner-L'" Subject: Fly Catching Message-ID:

The discussion on flycatching has been very interesting. Thank you Laura for posing the question at your annual Internal Medicine meeting. (Having attended annual technical-type seminars, I imagine the comic relief was somewhat welcome from the participants.) There are two types of seizures I have seen, one actually is fly catching, and the second is as if Jess's tongue is stuck in a licking action - both kind of weird to see. Jess started having these seizures when she was about 1 y.o. I started tracking when she would have these fly catching episodes - it was either late in the evening, before bed when she was tired -or- when she was stressed. (When I took her to the vet and she actually started catching flies in front of the vet.) We did not put her on any medication, because the frequency of the seizures is low and she is not in danger during these episodes. Laura, your description on staring " intently in the middle distance" is exactly right. As she has gotten older, I have noticed a slight increase in frequency, but they never last for more than 5 - 10 seconds and usually just late in the evening before bed and we call her name which helps to bring her out of it. Sincerely, Sue Van Ocker Doylestown, PA


BERNER-L Digest 357

Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 11:03:58 -0400 From: (Barbara Grasso) To: Subject: Re: fly snap syndrome Message-ID:

Acupuncture has worked for your type of situation. If you need a vet that is certified in acupuncture go to the web. -

I went away for two days and returned home to find Caymus with what I thought was a hot spot on the top of his paw, which he is licking constantly.We went directly to the vet who said it isn't a hot spotbut more a nervous situation like a himan biting his nails.We have pills for prednesone and i think an antibiotic,and aspray but he is still licking even using a sock and an ace bandage.He seems to have a mild case a Fly Snapping,could anyone who knows about fly snap e-mail me ASAP as I have in my notes that it is a "Psyco Motor Seizure" what is the remedy?Is it connected to his ears as he is shaking his head alot? Thanks Daisy and theMooseman(Those flies are driving me crazy Mom)

Barbara Grasso & The DeGrasso Kids Berners & Rotts, Virginia, USA Every Day Is A New Beginning!


BERNER-L Digest 358

Date: 04 Jul 96 06:42:48 EDT From: "LAUREL S. CAIN" To: BERNER-L Subject: Leg licking and Fly snapping Message-ID:

Re:>>I went away for two days and returned home to find Caymus with what I thought was a hot spot on the top of his paw, which he is licking constantly.We went directly to the vet who said it isn't a hot spotbut more a nervous situation like a himan biting his nails.We have pills for prednesone and i think an antibiotic,and aspray but he is still licking even using a sock and an ace bandage.He seems to have a mild case a Fly Snapping,could anyone who knows about fly snap e-mail me ASAP as I have in my notes that it is a "Psyco Motor Seizure" what is the remedy?Is it connected to his ears as he is shaking his head alot? Thanks Sorry, I got carried away!! . I asked a question on fly snapping of some esteemed colleagues about a month ago and got laughed at.... Anyhow, the lesion you describe on the leg along with your veterinarian's comments indicate that this is probably an acral lick granuloma. This is a nonhealing wound caused by excessive selflicking an area on the extremities. I t is considered a vice, as you mentioned, and may or may not have had an initiating injury at the site which started the licking in the first place. It is commonly held that these lesions and the licking behavior may be associated with boredom and inadequate stimulation--many cases have improved with variable forms of injectable or topical therapy, increased exercise and mental stimulation, physical barriers to licking, or antianxiety or other behavioral modification drugs--or a combination of the above.

I'm not sure how your fly-snapping question fits in because I wasn't sure if yo u thought that this licking behavior was fly-snapping or if your dog was actually doing this. As you mentioned, this illness is indeed a psychomotor seizure, an d is best handled by anticonvulsant forms of therapy--with variable success. Tru e fly-snapping behavior is not associated with deep parasites or infection in the ears, however it does make sense that if deep infection or parasitism did occur in the external otic canals, the irritation and odd noises would stimulate some strange behavior in the affected dog.

Hope this is of some help.

Laurel S. Cain, DVM


BERNER-L Digest 394

Date: Sat, 10 Aug 1996 18:38:38, -0500 From: (MR BRUCE MACEWAN) To: Subject: Fly Snapping Syndrome & Vitamine C Message-ID:

I'm sure it was mentioned and I missed it, but how much vitamine C is appropriate during times of stress and what is the best form. Also, I posted before to see if anyone could tell me the digest numbers for the discussion of fly snapping as I missed it. Haven't had a reply. If anyone remembers, please advise. My boy 'Bjorn' has had this behavior on and off since I've had him. He's two years old and we got him at 8 months. He will have several episodes causing me concern, and then he won't do it again for several weeks or months. I am wondering if it is allergy related as it seems to occurr when polin is in the air. I have heard of the 'misfiring of the brain' as an explaination with phenobarb and the treatement. But he is not at a point that I would give a stronge medication like that, and my vet agrees. Anyway any input would be appreciated.

Thank you, Diane, 'Bjorn' and must not forget my Golden Girl, Spring.


BERNER-L Digest 447

Date: Wed, 02 Oct 1996 13:54 -0500 (EST) From: susan_vanocker@Merck.Com (Susan Vanocker) To: "'Berner-L'" Subject: Fly Snapping - Treatment options Message-ID:

Dear Berner-L'ers A few months ago we posted some discussion on "Fly snapping syndrome"a.k.a. pyschomotor seizures. I remember a few responses said that they have seen this behavior in their BMD. I was wondering if anyone has treated (either phenobarbitol (?) or holistically or other) their berner for this syndrome. If so, what was the severity and frequency of the "fly snapping" before and after treatment. What were the side effects of the treatment, if any? Thanks in advance!

Sue Van Ocker (& Jessie & Phoebe) Doylestown, PA (


BERNER-L Digest 448

Date: Wed, 02 Oct 1996 11:37:42 -0300 From: Das Bunger Haus To: Subject: fly snap Message-ID:

Date: Wed, 02 Oct 1996 11:21:41 -0300 To: From: Das Bunger Haus Subject: fly snap

To Sue, My 7 yr old female has the 'fly snap' syndrome--she started doing this about 3 yrs ago. I spoke to my vet about it, but he didn't seem overly concerned about treating it with medication, so I never have. I noticed that when she's having an episode, she became totally oblivious to everything else, so I started going over to her and distracting her--sort of "interrupting" the episode. This has been beneficial I think--her episode are much shorter in duration, and I don't think she does it as frequently. It may just be coincidental, but I think this has helped.

I also wanted to concur with Jane about involving Oprah in the puppy mill problem. I work in a book store, and Oprah is a mega-force in the book industry, and I'm sure anything else she is passionate about. I think she is a dog owner--she may be very sympathetic to this.

Cheers, Moyra(Manlius, N.Y.)

------------------------------ BERNER-L Digest 567

Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 09:30:43 -0500 (EST) From: To: Subject: Hello from Tracy & Gingus - medical problems ("air biting") Message-ID:>

Hello!!! I'm Tracy Crawford and I have a 3 year old Bernese named Gingus. He's a wonderful dog, but not always in the best of health. I started searching the internet for help in avoiding our third specialist in three years, and found this wonderful resource. Gingus has what appears to be called "fly biting." My research (& vet) indicate this is known as a particular subcategory of seizures known as "Complex Partial Seizures." I was wondering if anyone on the mailing list has had personal experience with this type of seizures and could provide me with more info. I'm not sure whose dog was "air biting" but there are two websites where I found some info. (I think I've done the web search...) HTTP:/ html which actually has a video clip and Gingus has also had orthopedic problems, Cosequin which did wonders, surgery that turned out to be exploratory and a daily dose of Ascriptin for a year, wh ich cleared up his mystery limp. He also has severe allergy's. I've been reading the mailing list for a week, and I must admit it's nice to hear that the majority of Bernese are pretty healthy. Gingus also eats just about everything - the baby's sock, birdseed, paper... When we moved, we found the vet then the pediatrician. I would love to hear from anyone about the seizures, but please send it to my email - With a lovely two year old, Kaylynn, I only manage to check my mail every couple of days and 5 or 6 of the digests takes a lot of work. I'd hate to miss something. Thanks.

Tracy :>


Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 11:35:47 -0500 (EST) From: To:, Subject: Re: biting the air Message-ID:>

My berners boyfriend started to bite the air this past summer. He was taken to the vet several times, first thought, "phantom flies", but no suggestions. His behavior continued on a bizarre trend, quickly turning to check his rear quarters, running unexpectedly from room to room, aggitated crying; things all out of character with this dog.

Finally blood work done and it was determined that his thyroid was low. Since having been put on a regulator medicine, no more biting the air or other odd behaviors. It's worth checking.


BERNER-L Digest 569

Date: Thu, 23 Jan 1997 19:32:44 -0500 From: Delma Smith To: Cc: Subject: Re: Other Reasons for Fly Snapping Message-ID:>

Hi there fellow L-ers, Having made a New Years resolution to finish my novel, I'm going to be unsubscribing to the list for the next month or two. I'll check to archives now and then to keep up with what's going on. Re:fly snapping. A few years ago, our bitch Dazzle did a LOT of fly snapping, whirling around to fend off whatever demon was attacking from the rear. She would act terrified, runing through the house to find a dark corner where she could hide. All this time she was being treated for a chronic ear fungus that held on for months and months. One day my vet said he thought he saw a piece of cotton in her ear canal. That didn't surprise me since I had cleaned her ears the day before and wiped them out with cotton ball. When he retrieved the "cotton", it turned out to be a tumor. The next day, he put her under and removed two other suspicious growths. To make a long story short, she had a squamous cell carcinoma of the horizontal ear canal. She underwent a total ablation of the ear canal. It left her with a slight variation in her ear set but took care of the problem.(It didn't prevent her from placing in the group a few months later) It's been almost three years since her surgery. The only time she snaps now is when she is snapping at the real horseflys who love to torment her. So don't just accept the "seizure" scenario. There may be other reasons for your dog's bizarre behavior. I'm sure you really wanted to hear that. Love the list. Keep it up... Delma Smith


BERNER-L Digest 573

Date: Tue, 28 Jan 1997 15:59:06 -0500 (EST) From: To: Subject: "Fly biting" (snapping, catching) Summary of info. Message-ID:>

I'd like to thank everybody for their help relating information about "Fly Catching". Especially Pat Long!! She is trying to organize all of the digests and sent me all the information ever seen in Berner-L about this subject. I was amazed and impressed. I've compiled about all the information I've seen about this subject below. Most is from the newsgroup, some from the web, and some from my vet. The information below may not be completely accurate, but it's what I found. If anyone has any contradictions or additional info please let me know. I also have a list of several possible additional reference sources. Please respond to my my Email Thanks.

Tracy Crawford

Fly Catching

Who knows about "Fly Catching" -Neurologists -Dog owners. There seems to be a lot of Bernese owners who've had some experience. From what I've seen and heard most general practice veterinarians have had almost no experience with "Fly Catching."

Is it really a Seizure? - The Bernese seem to exhibit "fly catching" behavior somewhat frequently. It is also attributed to several condition (mostly ear) that are not listed as a cause for seizures that I've found. Most descriptions do not show other symptoms common to seizures, increased frequency or duration. Since "fly catching" seems to be an unusual seizure in general it could be a condition that needs more medical research. Is it really seizures??? -Is the dog seeing something real, but too small? or have something stuck in their mouth? You'll have to use your own judgment based on frequency. -Some dogs exhibit "fly-snapping" behavior when they have ear mites that are so deep in the ear that detection is difficult or low grade yeast infections.

Type & Symptoms of "true" Seizure -Complex Partial Seizures. Also termed psyhomotor seizures, these animals may show "fly-biting" behavior patterns, become aggressive without provocation, howl incessantly, become restless or exhibit a variety of motor disturbances. (Michael Podell, MSC, DVM) -Suffers spend most of their lives staring intently into the middle distance and frequently reaching forward with their head to snap their jaws closed as if there were some flying organism there to be consumed. (Laurel S. Cain) -People with complex partial seizures experience distortions of thought, perception or emotion (usually fear), sometimes with unusual visual, olfactory, auditory, and gustatory sensations. If dogs experience the same things, it may explain the lip-smacking, chewing, fly biting, aggression, vocalization, hysterical running, cowering or hiding in otherwise normal animals. Vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distress, salivation, blindness, unusual thirst or appetite, and flank biting are other signs. There is an obvious lack of awareness though usually not lack of consciousness. Abnormal behaviors may last minutes or hours and can be followed by a generalized seizure. Complex partial seizures are usually associated with secondary epilepsy. (Tittle)

Duration -a few seconds to an hour or more (Gingus. I'm still trying to decide if this is true seizures.) -Some dogs it seems to be almost continuous for a couple of days then disappears.

Progression to General Seizures - a few dogs have had one grand mal seizure, that could easily be attributed to an electrolyte or blood sugar imbalance. - I've heard of no cases where the fly catching seizures in Bernese get progressively worse or indications that it can lead to other symptoms traditionally associated with seizures. (See Type & Symptoms.) According to seizure literature, it is quite likely that the area of the brain effected can expand as it effects nearby neurons.

Cause - Primarily unknown. Some seizures are classified as "idiopathic" - meaning we don't know the reason. - The fly snapping activity may be caused by ear infections. Particularly yeast, even low grade. This would probably not be true seizure activity. - squamous cell carcinoma of the horizontal ear canal (in other words a tumor)

- Seems to be triggered by stress in some dogs. - I heard several times about thyroid problems triggering "fly catching (this may be included in the following list...) -Seizures in general can be cause by a variety of extracranial medical conditions - Hypoglycemia, liver disease, Hpocalcemia, renal disease, Hypoxia, Hyperkalemia, Hypomagnesemia, Hyperlipoproteinemia, Intestinal Parasitism, Allergy (food induces hypersensitivity) Heat stroke.

Genetic -Maybe. More acute forms of epilepsy are genetic. A couple of the dogs that I heard of are distantly related to my dog.

Treatment Options - According to general seizure literature drugs have variable success with "fly-catching." According to several dog owners, Phenobarbital is used to control seizure when they are severe. There are side effects and animals develop tolerance levels to Phenobarbital. -Distraction, talking, and petting the dog seems to help in mild cases. - Ivormectin- If it is ear mites or parasites deep in the ear. There was a lot of discussion about this, but there is no evidence of it being tried. Note: This is a "neurotoxin" and is an extreme toxin in some other breeds (Collies.) Laurel Cain (I believe she's a neurologist from the post on Berner-L) does not recommend putting this deep into the ear due to the proximity to the Central Nervous System. -Acupuncture ( )

Web sites with general seizure info. There are videos of dogs having seizures here. (also shown at


BERNER-L Digest 895

Subject: Fwd: Fly-snapping [biting] Syndrome Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 22:04:07 -0400 (EDT) From:

I have a berner boy who is 6 years old. In June he started snapping the air like he was trying to get a fly but no fly in site. My vet put him on phenobarb as we were thinking this behavior may be indicative if focal-motor seizures. I saw very little improvement. I weaned him of phenobarb and started benedryl 50mg twice a day. The improvement has been monumental. He has rare snapping events. Can anybody tell me about this phoenomenom? Also his liver enzymes went sky high, he lost 12 lbs. and had some vomiting. This happened in August. He recovered but my vet couldn"t tell me why this happened. I would love to hear from anybody who can shed some light on these 2 events. I love to hear about berners and would welcome any E-Mail. thanks-Jan from Kansas


Subject: Re: Fly-snapping [biting] Syndrome Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 22:00:05 -0000 From: "Ruth Reynolds"

Sounds to me like your young fellow has experienced a health crisis from which he may recover without intervention. That is has not been diagnosed, does not diminish its presence.

I am fascinated by this "phenomenon" in Berners and would like to relate briefly a story to which I can add a multitude of details privately if any one is specifically interested.

A Berner I produced and sold began experiencing fly snapping about a month after her spay. The day of the spay the animal was anesthetized three times (told to the owner by the veternarian) due to emergencies interrupting the "about to begin" surgery. We will never know whether this played a part in the enslaught of fly snapping in this dog. Did this cause a crisis in this dog's constitution? I think it significant enough to note but not to jump to a conclusion. The fly snapping increased in volume over time until the animal was snapping 20 hours per day. The owner's new vet had tried massive doses of phenobarbitol which did not affect the dog at all....didn't even make her drowsy. The vet was just about at wits end and euthanasia was on everyone's mind when I convinced the owner to send the dog to me. She did.

Upon arrival in Florida, the fly snapping had diminished to multiple episodes throughout the day but not a constant behavior. She slept in our bedroom at night and within a week of her arrival we were all sleeping through the night.

Using crude and simple behavior modification techniques (primarily ignoring the behavior) and working the dog daily, requiring more of her than have ever been required, the incidences of fly snapping were reduced to half within a week, 20 percent within a month and at the end of 8 months with us, the dog snapped only once in the last month in our presence. I worked with the dog daily on obedience drills as she was incredibly rude when she came back to us. She was balky, sulky when worked, and generally either very cooperative or totally uncooperative.

After 8 months of rehab, I returned the dog to her home in the northeast and stayed with the family for 2 days to work with them in understanding how they had actually reinforced this behavior in their dog. This dog had also been the victim of abuse in an obedience class, labeled a "difficult" dog, and had been allowed too much freedom, not enought jobs, and developed very little self discipline and self restraint prior to her return to us. Needless, perhaps to say, she acquired these things in our care. When returned, the family's 5 year old child walked her on a leash for the first time.

The dog remains with the same family 5.5 years later at age 7. She experiences daily fly snapping episodes which last a few seconds and occur several (2-3) times per day.

Based on this experience I feel that some dogs' fly snapping is stress induced. In some cases the behavior is inadvertently encourage by owners who are frightened by it and placate their dogs midst episodes and often at other times too. In the cases of several dogs I've subsequently worked with, the dogs had little stimulation...were practically home bound and were very bright animals.

I encourage those whose dogs experience fly snapping to rack your brain to figure out what is different in the dog's life....what has changed in your life that when perceived by your dog causes undue stress. Things to consider are change of residence, job, individuals in household,work schedule, loss of a family member, or acute or chronic illness in the dog or its humans. In the cases I've worked with re: fly snapping, usually the behavior is precipitated by a major life change in the owner or dog's life. Sometimes knowing what that stress is avails us of an opportunity to address aleviating it.

Also, I would suggest you start working your dog daily in obedience or agility drills or tracking....anything to occupy and stimulate an intelligent mind which may be going to waste...or may be occupying itself in other irritating ways.

I will gratuitously review cases of fly snapping dogs and offer management suggestions. I make no claims or promises...only offer hope for relief where previously there may have been none.

Ruth Reynolds Canine Behavioral Services


Subject: Re: Fwd: Fly-snapping [biting] Syndrome Date: Fri, 26 Sep 1997 22:41:06 -0500 (CDT) From: (susan ablon)

I have owned one dog that exhibited fly snap behavior. The problem originated when he was about 5yr. and progressed with age. I never felt that it was so severe that it required medication especially something as strong as phenobarb. This dog would at night all of a sudden begin to snap at something. Usually a reality check (like calling his name) would interupt the behavior and he would stop. As it progressed he exhibited other psycho motor "hallucinations" lip smacking as if he had just had something tasty, jumping up and looking under himself as if he had been bitten by a bug and barking at the door as if someone were there. He did these things periodically and never all at once. Fly-snap in its true sense is a form of epilepsy limited to psycho motor responses. It is usually diagnosed by the report of the owner. It can become debilitating if it becomes so severe that the dog is unable to be reality focused and allows the hallucinations to hamper his life style. That your dog responded to Benadryl makes one wonder if the problems were truly fly snap or possibly an inner ear problem. Some of the other list members have said that their dogs who seemed to have fly snap quit the behavior when ear infections were cleared up.

Susan Ablon Gweebarra Bernese Balch Springs, Tx USA


BERNER-L Digest 1072

Subject: Fly-Snap Date: Sat, 24 Jan 1998 21:41:13 -0500 From: Pat Long & Paul Dangel To:

I treated myself to several vet books from W B Saunders, one of which is "Immune-Associated Diseases and Nondermatologic Allergy." As I was just scanning quickly through, I came across this case history.

"A Bernese mountain dog was presented to the author for dermatologic examination. The owner described him as being quite vicious on many occasions. Fly-chasing activity was repeatedly reported every time the dog was examined. The patient was seen often while under treatment for a recurrent staphylococcal pyoderma. "An integral part of my treatment of staphylococcal pyodermas is to attempt to eliminate the possibility of food allergy as an underlying cause. This consists of feeding a diet of boiled lamb and rice prepared in distilled water in glass cooking vessels. "Within days of the dietary change, the dog ceased to 'chase flies.' Because the dog did not show a significant dermal improvement with the dietary change, the owner returned the dog to a commercial dog-food diet and the so-called fly-chasing activity returned."

From "Seizures and Other Neurologic Manifestations of Allergy" by James R. Collins, DVM, Houston TX The Veterinary Clinics of North America, Small Animal Practice, W B Saunders, July 1994

I found this interesting, since we have discussed fly-snap on many occasions. Most of the time it seems to be psycho-motor seizure activity, but some people have had success with treating ear problems and having the fly-snap go away. Other people have been able to reduce the length of the fly-snap episodes with behavioral modification techniques. I had never thought to associate seizures with food allergies. Just another possibility.

Pat Long, Vesta & Maggie, (Sam & Luther) Philadelphia PA


BERNER-L Digest 1168

Subject: flycatching behaviour Date: Sat, 28 Mar 98 10:13:07 UT From: "Leslie Farhangi" To: "Bernese Mailing List"


Basel, my almost 6 year old berner, has fly-biting seizures. Two vets in two countries (US and UK) agree that this is a form of epilepsy and Basel is on phenobarbitol.

Others on the list have written about the behavioural aspect of flybiting, but in my opinion, sometimes flybiting has a physical cause and is not behavioural. It sounds like your dog isn't doing it as frequently as Basel would if he didn't get his medicine. If he has many seizures, Basel also gets anxious. But if your dog doesn't have many, and isn't anxious, then I would not concentrate on the medical side and would look at the behavioural side.

Leslie Farhangi & Basel London


Subject: Radio Fence and Fly Snapping Date: Sat, 28 Mar 1998 19:26:22 EST From: Dazyr To:

I said I wasn't going to get into the IF topic again! But as someone has mentioned Radio Fence,I think it might be of some interest to hear what happened to me. I have the Invisible Fence brand fence at home and also at our summer place. My dogs have had the collars for years and 2 of them are the older type which can use different size batteries. My neighbor in the summer decided to get an IF and bought a Radio Fence on sale somewhere while on vacation. Now,our properties are small intown lots which is where then problem started! Hers was the same frequency as mine, and they cancelled each other out! She called and they said there was nothing they could do. So I called my dealer in Connecticut, and they said if she could find a used one, or buy a new one,I could bring it to them and they would change the frequency at no cost! Mine couldn't be changed because of the two older collars. She packed up her Radio Fence,as they have no installers or on sight training,and got a refund and did find a used IF sysytem and I took to Connecitcut got it changed and everyone is happy! This is one reason why Invisible Fence brand is more money,but in this instance you can see why it's worth it! One of my berners fly snaps when he has an ear infection or something is hurting him. It's kind of like bitting your nails. I know that there are other things that cause fly snapping, but in my dog,it's always the ears! Tailwags, Daisy,the Gooseman, and Sweet Max


BERNER-L Digest 1445

Subject: Other Reasons for Fly-Snapping Date: Sat, 05 Sep 1998 20:09:28 +0000 From: Delma Smith To: References: 1

I have to agree with Ruth..I know of at least ONE case where acute fly-snapping was NOT seizure related. Our Dazzle spent hours gazing up and stalking invisible flys. And HOURS is not an exaggeration. She had a chronic ear infection that required frequent vet visits. One day the vet saw what appeared to be a piece of cotton deep in her ear (I frequently wiped out her ears with a cotton balls). He reached in with forceps and we were both shocked when he pulled out a piece of a tumor.The next day he removed three small growths in her ear canal. She continued to "snap flys" and a couple of months later she had the whole ear canal removed and the ear sewn shut. The dx was basel cell carcinoma with squamous differentiation (msp). The fly-snapping stopped almost immedietly. That was three years ago and she will be seven in a couple of months. The vets said she was probably hearing sloshing,crackling,humming noises due to the fluid buildup in her ear. Anyway the cessessation of "fly snapping" was so dramatic, it was obvious that it was connected with the growths in her ear. I've always been grateful that my vet didn't dismiss the syndrome as "seizure-related" and instead kept looking for other answers. Delma Smith in Pittsburg, KS where the grass is burned up and looks terrible BUT I don't have to mow anymore. YES!


BERNER-L Digest 1487

Subject: fly snapping Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 09:06:38 -0500 From: Tina Slanc Organization: COOPER POWER SYSTEMS To:

Hi all,

I've read the archived posts regarding fly snapping but would like to know what's the first line of action in determining the cause. Our 4 1/2 year old berner, Ginger, has shown this behavior in the past 2-3 weeks. She is otherwise a healthy berner with no health problem (except the occassional attack of the gulps). I've read some of the causes may be food allergies or an ear infection of some kind. Should I make an appointment with the vet right away or try something on my own. She does seem to scratch her ears often, especially when she has been on her back for a while (while playing or the mandatory belly rubs).

Any help would be appreciated.

Tina S. and Ginger


Subject: Fly Snap Syndrome Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 11:58:57 EDT From: To:

I've heard of fly snap syndrome for many years, but never a definitive solution. The other day I call a call from an owner of one of my pups (now 18 months) who had been demonstrating the syndrome for about a month, and really upsetting the owners. X-rays at the vet's showed a misalignment in the jaw, similar to TMJ in humans. They're consulting an orthodontist specialist now for corrective surgery. He was snapping at the air and exhibiting fear because he was trying to get his jaw back in place, evidentally. Anyone hear this as a cause for fly snap syndrome? Jane McGovern


BERNER-L Digest 1648 Subject: Fly snap Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 10:04:11 EST From: To:

I had recently posted a request for a home for a young male with fly snap syndrome and I thank all who responded. Humphrey has been placed. I did receive information from one member on a holistic vet that she consulted with who has had success treating fly snap and contributed the problem to a reaction to the rabies vaccine. Humphrey had received the rabies vaccine in June and shortly after had begun the fly snapping. The vet is Larry A. Bernstein, VMD (FL) and he has a web page at He has other Berner clients whose names I recognized. Dr. Bernstein sent me some homeopathic remedies and I treated him as I withdrew the potassium bromide that he had been on. While at my home I saw only an occasional "snap" and before he left I was seeing no symptoms. It's a treatment that I would consider worth trying for someone with this problem. Jane McGovern


BERNER-L Digest 1808

Subject: Fly Snap Syndrome Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 14:32:04 -0500 From: "David Moore" To: "Berner-L List"

Well, I just couldn,t let this go by. Diesel, my 4 year old berner had surgery several weeks ago for a hematoma on his ear. Three days later, there was obvious infection and we went back to the vets. He was put on Primor 1200mg. This is a broad spectrum antibiotic. According to the instructions, I have gave him 2 pills the first day , and he was to have one pill a day for 2 weeks. After the first dose, that night, he started the fly snap syndrome. When I took him back to the vets to have the stitches taken out I mentioned it to the vet. His answer was that if this was his only symptom, don't worry about it. Well, two days later we left for Tucson, with Diesel in the care of my son. With only one dose left, he had a full blown reaction. His whole face swelled up, he had a temperature of 104, the lymph nodes in his neck were the size of a fist, and he was so stiff he could hardly move. After another trip to the vets and blood tests that showed all this to be a reaction to the Primor. One day after being off the Primor he was almost 100 percent better, and I have not seen any sign of fly snap syndrome. Today , Diesel is again having surger y on the same ear on the same sight for another hematoma. Why, neither I nor the vets know. But I can tell you one thing, he will NEVER be on Primor again. Just thought I should pass this along in case this ever happens to any of your dogs.

Carolyn Moore, Bristol, Tn. and Berners, Paisley, Freyja, Leo, Diesel and Betty


BERNER-L Digest 1932

From: "Bruce Macewan" To: "Berner List" Subject: potasium bromide Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 20:53:15 -0400

My boy Bjorn has fly snapping syndrome and has been on phenobarb for about two years. I switched him to potasium bromide about 2 1/2 months ago and have found it to be much better.

On the pheno, he was on a low dose, but continued to have some problems. With the potasium bromide there are supposed to be less side effects with the liver, and he rarely has any fly snapping behavior. I even cut the dose recommended by the vet in 2/3 because he was initially too drowsey and the lower dose is working well. We have been on 750, twice a day for two monts now, instead of the recommened 750, three times a day.

Potasium bromide is used for other kinds of epilepsy as well.

Any other experiences with PB out there?

Diane, Else the Wonder dog, and Bjorn


BERNER-L Digest 2622

Subject: Fly Catching Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 10:36:02 -0400 From: "David" To: "Berner List"

Our 3 year old Berner male has had fly catching seizures for about a year now. They showed up just after our son ( first child in house) was born. I can't blame him, as my wife and I were pretty tense those first few months as well.

It is not an ear infection but seems to be a true seizure. His (dog that is) mother had the same seizures for a little while at this same age. But her's were not as bad.

We have put him in Phenobarbital as it seems to work, but I am not happy about this due to possible side effects on his liver (none yet as tests show) later in life.

Has anyone had a similar experience with their Berner (ours is male and fixed). The seizures don't bother him too much besides the staring into space and occasional snapping into the air. When he spends time with a number of other dogs he does this much less or not at all. Seems to be worse at night when he has nothing keeping his attention.


David and Opus (he is the son of one of Kate Elders Dogs and Bev B. (NY Bev) if that helps)-Please reply to me by email as I don't get to check the Berner-L daily.


BERNER-L Digest 3409

Subject: Fly snapping Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 10:09:06 EDT From: To:

My berner Caymus, was a fly snapper. It took a while to figure out why, but for him, it was his ears. He was prone to infections, and when he got one, he would fly snap. He also would lick his paws, until he almost licked the fur off. He also could have been doing it when something hurt him, inside, but as dogs can't tell us, I'm not sure about that. Tailwags, Daisy and sweet Max


Subject: RE: fly snapping Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2001 13:16:32 -0400 From: "Rose Tierney" To: "Elaine Diedrich" CC:

Hi Elaine, I am currently treating a young bitch for pseudynomous infection in one ear. This has been a particularly stubborn infection as this type of bacteria is very aggressive causing severe ulceration in the ear canal and rupturing of the ear drum. This young girl became very head shy, and also aggressive towards her dog companions. Pseudynomous becomes antibiotic resistant at warp speed so treatment has been varied and intensive. If your friend's Rottie is displaying fearful behaviour it might be a good idea for her to be anaethestised and her ears flushed and examined closely for eardrum compromise. Sometimes an inner ear infection causes the drum to arch outwards and actually has to be surgically broken to drain. As she has a history of ear infections I would definately be having a close examination and submitting cultures for analysis. I am happy to say that my girl is on the mend and with that her self confidence is improving and she is happy and playful again.


This is a dog I would try feeding home prepared meals using organic sourced products. I would be considering if additives in the production of the food may be triggering these episodes or whether the actual meat or fish products contained are varied and not too much cast off from the carcasses that we humans do not consume ie the unmentionable bits, guts and heads. Have you kept an account of times of feeding and when these episodes occur, do you use a lot of cleaning chemicals in your home, any plug in or spray air fresheners. I knew a lady whose Sheltie used to seizure when she used Lysol spray, she only made the connection with the second time she sprayed and after that the spray was tossed in the garbage.

I'm currently looking at the liver cleanse diet, even though Max's blood tests came back normal. Our vet ran them when preparing to start the bromide, but I've received some suggestions that it may be beneficial anyways regardless of his liver status.

I dont use much cleaning products in the house. There is occasional pledge on the wood furniture, Clorox wipes and most other cleaning stuff used in the kitchen and bathrooms (that are babygated off due to our 2 year old son), and lots and lots of vacuuming and swiffering. I usually dont use air fresheners because I dont like breathing them in myself :P

Right now we feed Taste of the Wild, which is a grain-free kibble, on the recommendation of a canine nutritionist, due to grain sensitivities with our other berner Charlie. The protein content for the high prairie version is 32%, but we've also tried the fish and potato version when Max first started this, which is 25% protein.

The ingredients,if anyone is curious to see whats in it, are here:

I didnt want to cut and paste as it makes this post even longer LOL But if you have suggestions on other diets, I'd love to see them!

unfortunately, there doesnt seem to be any rhyme or reason to Max's flysnapping. I try to feed on an even schedule, between 7-8, both morning and evening. He'll snap any time of day or night. There are days where I can hear him in the dark when I'm trying to fall asleep, and there are times where he doesnt. He can actually wake up from a nap because of it. Some days are worse than others, even though our daily schedule hasnt changed at all, but we've never skipped a day.

Thank you everyone, for sharing your experiences with this, it really does help us in looking for ways to treat this, and to look outside the box on causes.

I'm not convinced about the theories behind "liver cleansing" though "liver support" is perhaps a better term to use. The idea of witholding nutrition for a period of time ie 24hours is more inclined to rest the intestines for conditions where diarrhea is a problem but as for cleansing the liver this organ is designed for steady processing of nutrition and it may well be that with his condition especially if epilepsy is suspected and drugs to be administered on a regular schedule that his dietary needs should be scheduled accordingly. Any plans you have for using supplements and/or fasting should be discussed with your vet and any sources for supplements should be closely examined for quality of ingredients.Bottom line don't do anything without discussing with your vet who knows your dog's case history, you can always ask for a referal to an internist if your vet's treatment plan is not working or you want a second opinion.