Siezures In Your Dog

Dogs can develop seizures just like humans do. They can also have a variety of types of seizures, from minor focal twitching to full scale grand mal type seizures. Causes for seizures can vary greatly as can the treatment needed for each type of seizure.

If you think your pet is having a seizure, you should contact your veterinarian to find out what needs to be done. A pet that was healthy just before the activity may not need to be brought in right away, but you should discuss this with your veterinarian and make the decision together. The worst part about a seizure is the helplessness that most people feel. Make sure your pet is protected from surrounding furniture or items that could harm him/her if it fell. Do not try to hold the pet or console it, and do not try to put anything in its mouth. Any of these actions could potentially cause you to get bit or injure the pet.

Seizures tend to have 3 stages. The pre-ictal stage can be very short and missed by most people or can be a few hours long and still very subtle. The active stage is the actual seizure activity. These activities can range from one particular muscle group twitching (such as an eye lid, lip, one leg, etc.) to full body involved grand mal seizure where the dog loses consciousness, bladder and bowel control. This stage can last a few seconds to several minutes. The post-ictal stage can last a few minutes to several hours. This can be where the pet is conscious but a little disoriented. Some pets can bite out of confusion or frustration, so approach your pet with caution until you know how they will respond. 

Once you and your veterinarian have determined that your pet needs to have some work done to determine the cause, you may wonder why there is such a list of tests. Some causes can include toxins, exposures to certain chemicals, low blood sugar, stress, parasites, encephalitis, tumors and epilepsy. Blood work, x-rays and a fecal would be a start. A referral for a brain scan or spinal tap is possible also.

Treatment for epilepsy generally starts with 1 or 2 types of anti-seizure medicines. Phenobarbital and/or potassium bromide are what we usually start with and each has a different set of side affects. Blood tests after initiating these medications are indicated until a therapeutic level is reached and seizures are under control. These medications are not a cure; they just help to control the frequency of the seizures. There are many dogs that can live a relatively normal life span that have epilepsy.

So if you think your pet is having seizures, contact your veterinarian. A great help would be if you can video tape the actual seizure activity. Seizures can be a mystery, but they can be dealt with in most cases.