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Fly biting seizures.

Species: Dog
Breed: Newfoundlander
Age: 2-5 years
At night with the lights on, Misha snaps at the air as if she's catching flies. There are no flies in the room! I checked her eyes for foreign objects and cleaned out her mouth too in case she was actually trying to spit something out. She does this until I close the lights and then she goes to sleep. What do you think is going on?

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

It is possible that your dog has something called "fly biting seizures". This is a type of seizure that makes the dog look like it is snapping at flies. I found a youtube video to demonstrate. (Just ignore the audio on it though):

Fly biting is a type of epilepsy that only affects the temporal lobe of the brain. Many dogs with this problem can be treated with anti-seizure medication such as phenobarbital.

There is another possibility. I once had a schnauzer patient who looked like he had fly biting seizures but he did not respond to medication. Then, one day after he was groomed, the behavior went away. We think that he kept seeing his eyebrows and thought they were a fly buzzing around his head. Once the eyebrows were trimmed, he was cured! That's not likely the case with a newfie dog though.

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.